December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am EDT | by Lateefah Williams
Open letter from Stein Club president to membership

Since the Stein Club Executive Board elections on Dec. 3, there has been an unprecedented amount of energy surrounding our organization. Both longtime and new members have been very passionate about the election process, and that is a good thing.  Some of this passion has resulted in several members challenging the election results due to the “special membership” status of some new members.

While I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful for the support of these longtime members and I believe that it is important to investigate potential election irregularities, I am also concerned about the future of the club. It is imperative that the Stein Club move forward into the future as a unified organization, so that we may continue to focus on effectively advocating for the District’s LGBT community. To that end, I am removing myself from consideration as the 2013 Stein Club president. While the decision to hold the Special Meeting and to possibly invalidate the election results is, and always has been, a different matter than my candidacy, I want to state my intentions unequivocally, so that it’s clear that any decision that is made by the membership at the Special Meeting should be made independent of me.

At the time of the Executive Board vote to call the Special Meeting, I recused myself as an interested party. However, now that I do not plan to seek the Stein Club presidency regardless of the meeting’s outcome, I want to address our members’ concerns directly. The Executive Board is trying its very best to be fair and responsive in addressing member challenges, while ensuring that anyone who may be impacted is allowed due process. It is a difficult matter, as contested elections and challenges have not been contemplated by the Stein Club in the past, so the bylaws offer no guidance for appropriate procedure.

The bylaws are also ambiguous concerning the amount of notice that must be given for a Special Meeting. The Executive Board read the bylaws to say that there is no particular notice requirement if notice is given by mail or email, but that there is a two (2) weeks notice requirement if notice is given at the previous General Body Meeting. This was, presumably, designed to ensure that there is reasonable time given between meetings. Admittedly, the provision is ambiguous and I can understand why some may read it as requiring two weeks notice in all cases. However, the Executive Board consulted with some of the former executive officers who were in office during the 2001 bylaw revisions and they confirmed that the two weeks provision was only intended to apply when notice is given at the prior General Body Meeting. Thus, the Executive Board decided to give one week notice in an attempt to provide reasonable notice, yet not to have the meeting in the week after Christmas when participation may be more limited. It was always the Executive Board’s objective to conduct this process in accordance with the bylaws and in the spirit of their intention.

While the Special Meeting will still occur to allow members the opportunity to voice their official election challenges and, if so decided by the membership, to establish a new election process, it is my desire that after hearing from all concerned parties, that, regardless of the outcome, this meeting will also serve as the initial step in the healing process of unifying the organization.  Let’s come together on Dec. 19 with the intention of truly listening to the concerns that some members are raising and then trying to find a way to move forward together. Particularly now, at this time of national tragedy, let us rise above for the good of social justice.

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