September 6, 2012 at 11:42 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
DNC 2012: D.C. LGBT delegates campaign for statehood

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With President Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s support for LGBT equality, including same-sex marriage rights, considered strong, D.C.’s LGBT delegates to the Democratic National Convention have joined city officials in lobbying their fellow delegates on the issue of voting rights and statehood for the District.

“We’re talking to delegates from every state, telling them how important it is that we obtain full voting representation for the people in the District of Columbia,” said Bill O’Field, the gay executive director of the D.C. Democratic Party.

O’Field and D.C. gay alternate delegate David Meadows, while waiting on line Wednesday to enter Charlotte’s Time-Warner Arena, where the convention is being held, said the city’s four gay and lesbian delegates and one alternate delegate – Meadows – have taken up the cause of D.C. voting rights.

City officials have long argued that the city should have two senators and one House member based on its population, with full voting rights in Congress.

Currently, the city’s sole representative in Congress is D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who is barred from voting on bills and resolutions on the floor of the House of Representatives, where she is assigned.

Meadows and the city’s four gay and lesbian delegates stood beside Mayor Vincent Gray, Norton, and four City Council members at the convention Wednesday night as Gray announced that all of the city’s delegates cast their vote for Barack Obama’s nomination for a second term as president.

Similar to the speeches of governors or party chairs for most other states, Gray used the convention’s roll call voting ceremony – which formally nominates a candidate for president – to deliver a separate message of interest to the state, territory or D.C.  In this case, Gray called for D.C. voting rights in Congress.

Among the others standing beside Gray were lesbian Democratic activist Lateefah Williams, gay labor activist Gregory Cendana, director of the mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs Jeffrey Richardson, and gay Democratic National Committee member Earl Fowlkes. All four are D.C. delegates to the convention.

The four, along with Meadows, were expected to attend the second meeting of the convention’s LGBT Caucus on Thursday prior to the convening of the final day of the convention.

Williams, who serves as president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, D.C.’s largest local LGBT political group, has said D.C. voting representation in Congress would help efforts to pass LGBT rights bills now pending in Congress because two senators and one voting representative in the House from D.C. would be certain to vote in favor of LGBT supportive bills and amendments.


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

  • Norton is so disrespected by her own party that they refused to let her speak at the Democratic nominating convention in North Carolina. In the early years of her service as a Delegate, the 74 year old, 11 term incumbent used to submit a Bill giving DC residents equal status with Americans in Guam and Puerto Rico, who also have no Senators and only Delegates to Congress, but because of this do not pay federal income taxes. Norton dropped that Bill around 1996. I guess a Democrat just could not pass by taxing people, even when you don’t let them vote. If Norton weren’t a blindered partisan she might try to embarass these tea partiers she speaks about by getting them to exempt DC residents from taxation if they cannot vote (the tea partiers are supposed to like the Boston Tea Party after all). She might even point out to them that having the federal government refuse to recognize gay marriages DC and other states consider valid is a violation of the 10th Amendment and the rights reserved to the states. But as a Federalista who believes in expanding Federal and Executive power, Norton can’t and won’t imagine or make those arguments. Thus her party managed not to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act when it help all 3 branches of government in 2009 and 2010. She is out of juice and must go!

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