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DNC names gay operative as nat’l political director

Alvillar served briefly as interim LGBT liaison for the White House

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Raul Alvillar, White House, Barack Obama, Obama Administration, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Raul Alvillar was named national political director for the DNC. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

Raul Alvillar was named national political director for the DNC. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

The Democratic National Committee announced on Wednesday that it has selected a gay political operative as its national political director just ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Raul Alvillar, who has worked in the White House for Vice President Joseph Biden, was named to the position by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

In a statement, Wasserman Schultz said Alvillar brings to the DNC more than a decade of experience on campaigns — both in the private sector and in government.

“His work on everything from legislative outreach to campaigns and LGBT advocacy will be an asset to Democrats at every level,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Together, with the rest of the team at the DNC, we’ll be able to support the President’s legislative agenda and elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2014 and beyond.”

News of the appointment was made shortly after the DNC winter meeting over the weekend in which Wasserman Schultz announced plans for a lesbian leadership council to boost the leadership role of lesbians within the party.

Alvillar said in the same statement reaching out to state parties and DNC members would be a priority for him during his tenure.

“I am excited to join the DNC and get to work electing and reelecting Democrats across the country,” Alvillar said. “I look forward to working with our state parties and DNC members to make certain we are providing them the tools they need to ensure that the Democratic Party thrives at all levels.”

Among the roles that Alvillar held before his appointment to DNC is serving as interim LGBT liaison at the White House in 2011 after former liaison Brian Bond departed, but before present-day liaison Gautam Raghavan came on board.

Alvillar also served as a senior adviser to Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Shaun Donovan and associate director at the Office of Public Engagement for the White House Office of the Vice President. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Alvillar was western political director for Obama and assisted with LGBT outreach and LGBT super delegates at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

According to a bio provided by the DNC, Alvillar was deputy national political director for John Kerry’s Keeping America’s Promise PAC and political director and regional field director for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chair of the House Democratic Caucus, heaped praise upon Alvillar following news of his appointment.

“Raul is a strong ally for Democrats everywhere and I’m proud to call him a friend,” Becerra said. “At a time when the stakes could not be higher for working families in America, I am confident that Raul brings the experience and dedication to promote the President’s agenda and propel Democrats to victory in November.”

Alvillar joins the DNC at a challenging time for the Democratic Party as support for President Obama remains in the 40-percentile range among Americans and political observers say Democrats may lose control of the Senate in the mid-term elections.

Steve Elmendorf, who’s gay and a Democratic lobbyist, called Alvillar “a real star in the Democratic world.”

“He worked for me during the Kerry for President Campaign and showed great skill and political judgment,” Elmendorf said. “The DNC is lucky to have him.”

Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, also had good things to say about the DNC’s latest appointment.

“Raul brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to improving the lives of Americans,” Cole-Schwartz said. “We’re thrilled he’ll be putting his enormous talents to use at the DNC.”

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Rebecca Juro

    March 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Yet another Beltway insider to make excuses for Democrats doing nothing on LGBT rights. We've seen this movie before, and it doesn't end well. If Democrats are finally getting serious about protecting LGBT working families, just hiring this guy doesn't impress me. Real action and leadership on the issues that matter most in our lives (even when it's politically inconvenient for Democrats, which is always) is what will. Until we see that, this is just early election season advertising to rally LGBT voters to a party that continues to fail us on the issues that matter to us most.

  2. Robin A. Quarles

    March 7, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Raul is not just another beltway insider! I know Raul from our days in YDA and he was always and advocate for marginalized groups. As a person of color and a person who is LGBTQ Raul understands better than most what it means to be a united states Citizen within a marginalized group.

    • Rebecca Juro

      March 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

      This particular guy’s resume is irrelevant. He’s not going to be in a position to change anything nor make any difference in the way Democrats have been de-prioritizing the rights of LGBT working families for two generations.

      I stand by what I said above. Nothing to see here, move along, move along…

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Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting

Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote

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Mitch Crane, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane. (Photo courtesy Crane)

Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.

The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website. 

The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022. 

The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.

Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.

Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.

“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.

Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.

The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.

 “The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee. 

In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.

He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

 “I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.

Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.

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MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6

Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker

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Gay journalist Jonathan Capehart will host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area. 

“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.

The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.

According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.

The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”

Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”

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Politics

State Department acknowledges Intersex Awareness Day

Special LGBTQ rights envoy moderated activist roundtable

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State Department (public domain photo)

The State Department on Tuesday acknowledged the annual Intersex Awareness Day.

“We proudly recognize the voices and human rights of intersex people around the world,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement. “The Department of State is committed to promoting and protecting the rights, dignity, and equality of all individuals, including intersex persons.”

Price in his statement said U.S. foreign policy seeks to “pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics, while acknowledging the intersections with disability, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or other status.” Price also acknowledged intersex people “are subject to violence, discrimination, and abuse on the basis of their sex characteristics” and “many intersex persons, including children, experience invasive, unnecessary, and sometimes irreversible medical procedures.” 

“The department supports the empowerment of movements and organizations advancing the human rights of intersex persons and the inclusion of intersex persons in the development of policies that impact their enjoyment of human rights,” he said.

Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad, on Tuesday moderated a virtual panel with intersex activists from around the world.

Intersex Awareness Day commemorates the world’s first-ever intersex protest that took place in Boston on Oct. 26, 1996.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with their sex listed as “X.” The State Department in June announced it would begin to issue gender-neutral passports and documents for American citizens who were born overseas.

The U.S. and more than 50 other countries earlier this month signed a statement that urges the U.N. Human Rights Council to protect the rights of intersex people.

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