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.