May 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
7 gay candidates seek Clinton delegate seats in D.C.
delegate, gay news, Washington Blade

The D.C. Democratic Party caucus is to be held May 21.

At least seven gay men are among the 60 candidates running to become delegates to the Democratic National Convention pledged to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at D.C.’s Democratic presidential caucus on Saturday, May 21.

But a modest to strong showing by Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders in D.C.’s June 14 presidential primary could eliminate most if not all of the gay candidates, who are competing in Saturday’s caucus against 53 other would-be Clinton delegates for just 13 delegate seats.

Under the D.C. Democratic Party’s proportional voting system in presidential primaries, the city’s 13 elected delegates and one elected alternate delegate seats are allocated to competing presidential candidates by the proportion of the vote they receive in the primary.

No known LGBT people are among the 12 candidates running in the May 21 caucus who are pledged to Sanders.

Clinton is considered the strong favorite to win the June 14 D.C. primary. But local political observers say the city’s historically progressive electorate makes it likely that Sanders will receive a significant percentage of the vote.

Among the known gay candidates running for Clinton delegate positions, according to a list released by the D.C. Democratic Party, are gay Democratic activists John Fanning, Richard Lum, David Meadows, Peter Rosenstein and Mark Spengler.

All city residents who are registered Democrats are eligible to vote at the caucus, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 9-10:30 p.m. at the city’s Walter Washington Convention Center. Under Democratic Party rules, city residents can register as a Democrat at the site of the caucus if they bring proof of residency.

Spengler is the former LGBT outreach director at the Democratic National Committee. Rosenstein is a Blade columnist and Fanning is chair of the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Lum served as a member of the Platform Committee at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

Many of the other candidates running for the Clinton delegate seats are longtime community activists with significant name recognition. Party activists have long said that the key to winning delegate seats at the D.C. Democratic Caucus is to be able to bring or attract large numbers of supporters to the caucus.

The Democratic Party has allocated a total of 45 delegates from D.C. to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this summer. Most are automatic or “super” delegate seats assigned to party leaders and elected officials. Seven are selected by the D.C. Democratic State Committee after the caucus.

Under a non-binding affirmative action “goal” established by the D.C. Democratic Party, at least 5 out of the 45-member delegation should be members of the LGBT community. In past presidential election years, the party has appointed LGBT people as delegates to meet that goal.

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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