February 28, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
12 LGBT candidates seek Obama delegate seats

Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, is one of 12 LGBT candidates among the 92 competing for 14 delegate spots to the National Democratic Convention. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Twelve LGBT candidates are running to become delegates to the Democratic National Convention in D.C.’s Democratic presidential caucus, which is set to take place Saturday, March 3, at the University of the District of Columbia.

The 12 LGBT candidates are among a total of 92 candidates competing at the caucus for just 14 delegate positions and one alternate delegate post. They are pledged to support President Barack Obama, who is running unopposed for the 2012 Democratic Party nomination.

Among the LGBT candidates are Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; Jeffrey Richardson, former Stein Club president and director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; former Stein Club president and D.C. Council staffer David Meadows, and transgender activist and Stein Club treasurer Alexandra Beninda.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) initially submitted his name as a delegate candidate but this week withdrew from the race.

“Just like in past years, the people who win are the ones who can turn out the most supporters to vote for them,” said Bill O’Field, executive director of the D.C. Democratic Party, which is organizing the caucus.

D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has said he is arranging for buses to bring senior citizens and other Ward 8 voters to the caucus to support his candidacy for delegate.

O’Field said the caucus is scheduled to take place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday. He said any D.C. resident who is a registered Democrat is eligible to vote in the caucus, which is to take place at the UDC Auditorium, Building 46 East, near Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street, N.W.

According to O’Field, participants can vote any time during the three-hour caucus and don’t have to stay for candidate speeches.

Gay Democratic activists throughout the country, led by the National Stonewall Democrats, are pushing to elect as many out LGBT people as possible as delegates to the Democratic Convention. The convention takes place the week of Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Among other things, LGBT Democrats want the convention’s platform committee to approve a plank in support of legal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Under D.C. Democratic Party rules, the city is divided into two voting districts for the purpose of selecting delegates to the convention: Voting District 1 includes Wards 1, 2, 6 and 8; and Voting District 2, which includes Wards 3, 4, 5 and 7.

The LGBT candidates running in Voting District 1 include Lateefah Williams, Adam Bink, Kevin Scott Carroll, Gregory Cendana, Jonathan Degner, David Meadows, Alexander Padro and Jeffrey Richardson.

The LGBT contenders running in Voting District 2 include Alexandra Beninda, Aadit Dubale, Philip Skillman and Sterling Washington.

O’Field said D.C. Democrats who cannot attend the caucus on Saturday may cast their vote for delegate candidates at the D.C. Democratic Party office on Thursday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The office is located at 1050 17th St., N.W., Suite 1000. O’Field said voters wishing to do this should call him first to make an appointment at 202-714-3368 or contact him by email at dcdemocraticparty@gmail.com.

LGBT activists planning to attend a memorial interment ceremony for the late gay leader Frank Kameny, which is scheduled to take place on the same day as the caucus, expressed an interest in voting at the party office rather than risk arriving at the caucus too late to vote.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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