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National Democratic Convention Requires Gay and Lesbian Delegates

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News Release by the Gay & Lesbian American Caucus, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE. Posted 1998-JAN-13

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The Democratic National Committee's bodies governing the delegate selection rules for the 2000 National Democratic Convention -- the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee & DNC Executive Committee -- voted unanimously in a meeting this weekend to include the first-ever language requiring state parties to specifically include Gay & Lesbian representation as part of the delegate selection process for the 2000 Convention.

"Gay and Lesbian Democrats and our community have taken a significant step forward," said Jean O'Leary of California, Chair of the DNC Gay & Lesbian American Caucus and member of the DNC Executive Committee, the governing body of the DNC. "These new rules will likely increase the number of openly Gay and Lesbian delegates to the 2000 Convention and mark the first time that a major National Party organization has included Gays and Lesbians as a priority for selecting delegates to a National Party Convention."

"These new rules reflect what we have done for the Democratic Party and this Administration over the years as well as how critical our community's support will be for a Democratic Presidential victory in 2000," said Jeff Soref, Vice Chair of the DNC Gay & Lesbian American Caucus and At-Large DNC Member from New York.

The DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee voted unanimously in favor of an amendment to the sections of the 1996 delegate selection rules governing outreach and inclusion of groups traditionally active but underrepresented in the Democratic Party. The amendment, submitted by California DNC member Garry Shay, requires state parties to develop and submit to the DNC outreach plans for delegate selection that include those "historically underrepresented" in the Democratic Party because of "race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or disability." The new rules also require state parties to give "priority of consideration" to these underrepresented groups in a state's delegate selection process "in order to assist in the achievement of full participation by these groups."

"This is another example of the Democratic Party's commitment to equal opportunity and the full inclusion of Lesbians and Gay men in the affairs of the Party at the local, state and national level," said Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Garry Shay, who submitted the amendment to the Rules & Bylaws Committee of the DNC. "While the Republican National Committee spent the weekend debating whom to exclude from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party is building on its record of inclusion and participation," Shay continued.

Shay credited passage of the new language contained in his amendment to the work done by DNC Members Jeff Soref, Jean O'Leary and California State Assemblywoman Carole Migden and Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Executive Director Brian Bond. Shay also noted DNC Chairman Steve Grossman's support for the amendment and the strong support of former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and current At-Large DNC Member Harold Ickes, who spoke on behalf of the amendment at the Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting. The amendment was approved along with other changes to the delegate selection rules later in the weekend by the DNC's Executive Committee, the governing body of the DNC. The DNC will vote once more on the entire package of 2000 Convention delegate selection rules at a meeting of the full DNC in May.

    Of the 4,925 delegates and alternates to the 1996 National Democratic Convention in Chicago, at least 146 were openly Gay or Lesbian. The site for the 2000 Convention has not yet been selected, but a Site
Advisory Committee
was recently appointed by DNC Co-Chairs Steve Grossman and Governor Roy Romer (D-Colorado) to review bids from over 20 cities for the 2000 Convention. The Site Advisory Committee includes three openly gay men: Terry Bean of Oregon, Andrew Reyes of North Carolina and Andy Tobias of New York.

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Gay & Lesbian American Caucus, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, News Release. Posted 1998-JAN-13.

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