The 2016 Democratic National Convention LGBT Platform

| May 23, 2016
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As the 2016 Presidential Primary season turns into the home stretch and we start looking ahead to the formal National Conventions, a few things have become very clear,

Donald Trump has crushed a diverse field of weak, lying, unenergetic, sleepy, sloppy eating and ugly transphobic and homophobic candidates in a highly undemocratic process that has made him the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party (RNC), he will not show his tax returns and has kept his pecuniary investment in his campaign as a “loan,” meaning he can get anyone who hits the “donate” button on his website to put those thirty something million dollars back in his personal pocket. Smart?

Trump’s campaign operation has now settled into a conventional campaign mode bringing in the RNC establishment and many of the “real” billionaire big bucks Republican donors who are going all in on keeping their interests in the forefront at the expense of the other 99+%. Sands casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, despite his pro-Zionist fervor has decided to invest in Trump and his ticket to the tune of 100 million which has the potential to save him billions in taxes.

So much for Donald Trump not being beholden to giant corporate interests.

So what do we expect from a Trump dominated political policy platform coming out of the Republican National Convention this July in Cleveland, Ohio. Well, first of all, there is no LGBT Caucus, or any one representing any of the letters of the Lesbian, gay Bisexual or transgender community or demographics. Trump has already flip-flopped on Republican mega millionaire Cait Jenner’s ability to use public bathrooms to match her gender and supporting the right of North Carolina to legislate and enforce HB2.

Indeed the RNC has as a matter of formal policy encouraged and endorsed hateful laws such as North Carolina’s HB2.

So what can we expect from the Democrats and their candidates?

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) selects their candidate at their nominating Convention in Philadelphia, PA this July 25-28. Among the estimated 4,785 voting delegates plus alternates and 561 Standing Committee members we do expect a very diverse reflection of the Democratic electorate including 500 or more LGBT official participants engaged in the LGBT Caucus that will meet twice at the Convention. Two weeks ago the DNC Executive committee was given a walk thru of the facilities and I’m pleased to report that our Caucus room will accommodate over 1000 people as compared to 2012 when about 200 people were turned away since the room could only accommodate 500.

As of May 21, 2016 it is also clear the former Secretary Hillary Clinton will be the nominees of the Democratic Party. Since the DNC by its clear and uniforms rules mandating that any candidate getting at least 15% of the vote of any congressional district will get an appropriate apportioned % of the delegates to reflect that vote, unlike the RNC which allows states to have winner take all delegates and disallows the representation of a significant percentage of their voters at their convention. Some states do have a 20% rule.

Although the math is with Hillary, Senator Sanders is expected to be well represented, Already outspoken Sanders advocate and surrogate Former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner was picked by Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (DWS) for the Credentials Committee.

The DNC has been a vehicle of change for Transgender Americans

At the 2004 convention the Kerry campaign refused to include a transgender non-discrimination plank in the platform. Only four years later in 2008 the Obama and Clinton members of the platform committee worked together to include transgender Americans and our rights in the platform. By 2009, the DNC amended their Charter and By-Laws to include “gender identity” as a category of non discrimination and inclusion within the party infrastructure and affairs, the Gay and Lesbian Caucus was renamed as the LGBT Americans Caucus to reflect that inclusion, and it first transgender member was confirmed by the membership. In 2011, The DNC’s Executive Committee had it first trans person elected to that governing body. In 2013 the first transperson was elected from their home state as a DNC member and was later unanimously elected to be vice chair of the LGBT Caucus.

It is also very clear that the Platform will be strongly LGBT inclusive. Although the majority of the 187 members of the Platform committee have not yet been chosen or elected, we can gain clear insight from the 25 National At-Large people nominated by the Chair (DWS) and confirmed by the Executive Committee. Platform Co-chair Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy has proven to be a champion of LGBT and transgender rights and is acknowledged as one of the LGBT communities “Greatest allies”!

Remarkably 6 of the 25 At Large members are LGBT including retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva who actively supports ending the ban on open transgender military service, SEIU union leader and trans employment rights advocate Mary Kay Henry as well as national trans policy advocate Mara Keisling of National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).

We know that both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders openly and actively support full LGBT Equality and the Federal Equality Act which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit, public accommodations, jury service, and federally funded programs. We expect explicit support for the Equality Act to be articulated in the Platform. Senator Sanders is a Co-sponsor and Sec Clinton stated at a C-span town hall meeting last fall, “We have to pass the Equality Act, which is currently pending in Congress,” … “That will be my highest priority.”

We expect a plank to support open military service for qualified transgender Americans to be articulated. Personally, I’ve maintained for several years that this will be done before President Obama leaves office! June is Pride month and the timing seems right for an announcement from DOD Sec. Ash Carter.

Several States have already banned “Conversion Therapy” . Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Senators Murray, Schumer and Franken have introduced legislation known as the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act. If passed, the law would classify conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice that would be illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act. The law would also ban all advertising that claims the therapy can successfully change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is not unreasonable to expect this to be reflected in the Platform.

Secretary Clinton was very clear about her support for an inclusive ENDA back in 2008 and had a superb proactive record when she was Secretary of State. We expect a strong platform.

The platform should include a Federal Anti Bullying Bill such as the one that Senate Republicans killed last year.

The DNC has made it a regular practice to reach out to the public , to the grassroots to find out what Democrats would like to see in their Convention Platform …. What would you like to see? Will you show up and talk when they come to your area?

Todd “Tif” Fernandez an attorney and LGBT activist has already e-mailed me his preliminary thoughts here :

“Civil Rights and Ending Discrimination Based on Sex, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity:

The United States acknowledges the vast harm that discrimination based on status causes to any oppressed minority, and affirms the duty and role of the federal government to outlaw and eradicate such discrimination. Toward this, we commit to enacting The 2015 Equality Act to outlaw discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity on an equal basis under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and related laws, in employment, credit, housing, all federally funded programs, public accommodations, public facilities, education, and jury duty, and to ensuring that all federal budgets include nondiscrimination protections on these grounds. We further commit to protecting marriage equality for same-gender people, as the law of the land and as a constitutional right, and to outlawing psychological treatment of minors designed to change their sexual identity or orientation.

Beyond legal reforms, we commit to a public education campaign on the dignity of all people, including LGBT Americans, to ending bullying in schools, to including the contributions of LGBT Americans and their struggle in our educational histories, and to addressing with adequate funding programs [the] need to heal the health and mental welfare of individuals who have suffered under systemic discrimination in this country. The United States Constitution, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and various international resolutions to which we are party, require this action as fundamental to our duty to protect the life, liberty, safety and dignity of all peoples, including LGBT Americans, and this duty is absolute.”

What do you think? What would you like to see in the Democratic Platform regarding inclusive LGBT rights?

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Category: Transgender Community News, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

“Babs” is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee, Deputy Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of NJ. For the current campaign she serves on the Executive Committee of Trans United 4 Obama. She has served as Vice Chair of the DNC Eastern Caucus, President of NJ Stonewall Democrats, Co-Chair of National Stonewall Democrats Federal PAC Board, Vice-Chair of Garden State Equality, Executive Board member of National Stonewall Democrats as Chair of the DNC Relations Committee and a member of the NJ Civil Unions Review Commission.

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