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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-10-06 01:02 PM
Original message
NJ Dem State Convention: LGBTI caucus
(from a yahoo list)

Hi, everyone, from Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. Allow me to fill you in on what happened this weekend at the Democratic state convention.

Each Friday at the convention, different constituencies have different Caucus meetings. This year, three organizations, Garden State Equality, New Jersey Stonewell Democrats and the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, produced the LGBTI Caucus. We decided to do something different -- to present an entertainer at the end of our Caucus meeting. We had an open bar and hired a Cher impersonator. Last year's LGBTI Caucus attracted 8 people. This year's attracted more than 100.

Our friends from the predominantly straight Progressive Caucus would have attended without the bells and whistles, no doubt, and we love them for it. But many other party leaders in the room wouldn't have otherwise; they said so. And we got a chance to talk to them about our issues. In a Caucus that began at 6:00 pm, "Cher" only came on at 6:52 pm. It was hardly as if serious business weren't being done.

But before the event started, Diane Legriede, the executive director of the State Democratic Committee, pointed to "Cher" and said the following:

"We cannot have THAT walking in the hallway."

"You cannot have THAT inside your Caucus."

"The State Committee will not have someone like THAT attending dinner -- THAT cannot come inside the ballroom."

"What if the press sees THAT -- what if they report on THAT in tomorrow's papers?"

Diane delivered these statements as a diatribe in the hallway, ironically, drawing attention to an intolerance that was far more embarrassing than anything around her. She was also completely unself-conscious about referring to a transgender person repeatedly as THAT -- as not even a person -- right next to Barbra Casbar, a member of the transgender community who is a leader in the three organizations sponsoring the Caucus.

I answered: "Diane, it's our caucus and transgender people are part of our community. Diane responded, "It's not your event, it's our event." What a telling statement.

She added, "If THAT's going to be inside the room, we're going to boycott your Caucus."

Senator Loretta Weinberg and her staffer Debbie Francica were outraged on behalf of the LGBTI community. They went to Diane and to Chair Joe Cryan and told it like it was: "We can't believe your reaction. You're acting like Republicans. This is supposed to be a Democratic convention where we embrace diversity, not a Republican convention where we're afraid of it. Transgender people are part of this community and they're entitled to be in that room and they include people like Cher."

Friends, we all know Loretta as one of the state's greatest progressive champions. But as those of us who know her and her staff personally can attest -- and as this event proved -- they're also some of the most personally enlightened people you could ever meet in your lifetime.

Also attending our Caucus were Congressman Frank Pallone, Union County Democratic Chair Charlotte DiFillippo and Senator Bob Menendez's daughter Alicia. They all loved the event. For those of you who don't know Alicia, she is one of the nicest, most politically savvy and most progressive young leaders in the Democratic Party today. She, too, was in disbelief at the State Democratic Committee's reaction. "Your community was the first to endorse my dad and I know everything you've done since. I can't believe this."

Best of all, the entire Progressive Caucus not only joined us at the LGBTI Caucus, but also expressed passionate solidarity with us on our issues and against the State Committee's behavior. Right on site, the executive board of New Jersey for Democracy voted to protest the State Committee's behavior.

We certainly don't blame Diane Legriede's meltdown on Governor Corzine, whose campaigns, Senate staff and gubernatorial Administration have all been more diverse than any we've ever seen in New Jersey. Governor Corzine has appointed an unprecedented number of women, people of color and LGBTI New Jerseyans at the most senior levels of government. He succeeded dramatically in lifting the glass ceiling. God bless him.

(Incidentally, the Democratic State Chair in recent years with the best record on diversity has been Tom Giblin. He took several dramatic and courageous steps, a guy who walks the walk rather than just talks the talk.)

But the State Committee continues to be an uptight, insensitive and LGBTI-uncomfortable mess that does not reflect the Democratic electorate in New Jersey, likely the country's most progressive Democratic electorate in likely the country's most progressive state. At the two previous year's conventions, party officials repeatedly singled out every constituency in their speeches except for the LGBTI community. And they wonder why the LGBTI community wasn't attending the annual Democratic convention in higher numbers -- duh -- in contrast to Garden State Equality's town meetings that have drawn 10,000 people, straight and LGBTI alike, since 2003. That's an average of 400 people per town meeting.

Diane Legriede's young operatives said her hallway diatribe reflected Chairman Joe Cryan's sentiments as well. That's surprising -- we've found Joe to be a progressive, inclusive guy.

We're troubled by the "boycott" of our Caucus when the state committee has no problem with our community's money and volunteers. In the past two years, Garden State Equality has raised nearly $400,000, including more than well over $100,000 for political candidates. Like our state's progressive organizations, we at GSE have triaged droves of volunteers to Democratic candidates. We conceived and implemented a huge GOTV operation in 2005 and are about to unveil one for this fall's campaign.

The message Diane Legriede's diatribe sent was this: We will accept you in the LGBTI community so long as you look and act a certain way.

Well, she and her state committee had better embrace the LGBTI community's diversity right now. Our community is a rich and proud mosaic. We range from those identify with genders different from their birth genders... to those who like to cross-dress... to those like me who wear suits, ties and even yarmulkes. No one has the right to tell us who in our community is acceptable and who is not. We are all acceptable and we all deserve respect.

If a state party leader in a comparably progressive state like California, New York or Massachusetts delived a transphobic, anti-LGBTI diatribe like that which Diane Legriede did in the hallway of this convention, that official might well be fired.

Rumor has it that Joe Cryan is going to call me to apologize. I'll tell you what I'll tell him: Words don't matter; action does. The Democratic State Committee has got to take some very quick moves to diversify the party's leadership and number of elected officials. It goes way beyond the party's lack of LGBTI diversity -- New Jersey's Democratic-dominated legislature ranks 44th nationally in the number of women officeholders. Tragically, there's not a single openly LGBTI member of the state legislature or even on the State Democratic Committee. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, New Jersey had merely one openly LGBTI delegate whereas comparably progressive states each had many.

More than a seat at the table, we want action.

It's time for the state Democratic Party to endorse marriage equality outright. The state Democratic Parties of California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington State, Iowa, New Mexico and Texas have done so. But it's New Jersey that has the strongest poll numbers for marriage equality in America, where two-thirds of all state Democrats favor marriage equality. If our side loses the marriage case, God forbid, the state Democratic Party had best endorse marriage-equality legislation. Garden State Equality and our millions of straight allies across New Jersey will not take no for an answer.

It's time for the state Democratic Party to get the transgender equality bill passed this year -- 70 percent of New Jersey favors the bill whereas only 19 percent oppose it. The Democrats have not even posted the bill in committee, stalling for nearly two years.

Quite simply, it's time for the State Democratic Committee to leave the Jurassic Era. This is New Jersey, an extraordinary state with a rich history of being on the cutting edge of civil rights in America, and we demand no less.
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-10-06 01:29 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'd be one pissed off puppy
Diane Legriede should get ready to start looking for a new job

bigotry on that level should not be accepted
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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-11-06 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
2. Democratic State Conference last Friday night...
Nearly three full days have passed since the Democratic State Committee's disgraceful anti-LGBTI, transphobic behavior at the Democratic State Conference last Friday night -- and still we have not gotten an apology, let alone concrete action to make the party more diverse and LGBTI-responsive. Enough is enough. We at Garden State Equality ask you to sign our petition at, which will go directly to Democratic state chairman Joe Cryan, Democratic state vice-chairwoman Dana Redd, and Democratic state executive director Diane Legreide. /

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me, Steven Goldstein, GSE chair, at .

Thanks so much - and remember, please forward this email to everyone in New Jersey you know.

We want this petition to be big.
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HarukaTheTrophyWife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-11-06 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I'm getting "File Not Found" on that petition link. nt
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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-11-06 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. the comma is the problem
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HarukaTheTrophyWife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-12-06 01:50 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. I signed it. You might want to crosspost this in GD.
More people will see it.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-12-06 11:52 PM
Response to Original message
6. As an older gay man well out of mainstream culture, I have to ask: GLBTI?
WTF is GLBTI. I have the "Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgengerdered" but what is the "I"? I could understand "A" for asexual but I don't get the "I" at all.

Understand, I'm 52 and live in rural Mississippi. Give me a break. Whats that "I" stand for?
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One_Life_To_Give Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Intersex
I believe the I is for Intersex. Sometimes used to refer to those born with ambiguous genitalia. (e.g. Hermaphrodite) But is sometimes used to describeanyone who doesn't completly fit one of the binary genders.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 07:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Thanks! Should have known.....
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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 09:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. Update
September 13, 2006

Dear friends:

We want to report back to you on the positive and productive meeting that was held today among top officials of the Democratic State Committee and leaders of the LGBTI community.

Chairman Joe Cryan and Executive Director Diane Legreide of the DSC met today with Steven Goldstein, Chairman of Garden State Equality; Barbara Casbar, President of New Jersey Stonewall Democrats; Joan Hervey, Deputy Executive Director of Garden State Equality; and Randy Bishop, Executive Vice President of New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and a Democratic Township Committee member in Neptune.

We all agree that the misunderstanding at the caucus meeting in Atlantic City was regrettable. No offense was intended and, as a result of todays meeting, none was taken.

Moving forward to achieve our common goal of equality for all, we identified specific actions that we will take together to enhance communication between the LGBTI community and the State Democratic Party, as well as to build on the growing political and organizational strength of the LGBTI community.

1. As an Assemblyman, Joe Cryan will become a cosponsor of the bill to add the transgender community to the Law Against Discrimination. He will also actively encourage support for the measure among his colleagues in the legislature.

Assemblyman Cryan, a longtime advocate of gender equality and other priority legislative issues of importance to the LGBTI community, said the principles of equal rights, civil rights and fair treatment under the law are core values that should unite all citizens, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Assemblyman Cryan restated his opposition to a state constitutional ban on marriage equality.

2. Chairman Cryan created a new Deputy Vice Chair position on the Democratic State Committee and appointed Denise Brunner, who is transgender. Denise was named to the position at the party conference on Saturday. She had been recommended by LGBTI leaders.

3. Together, we will establish a working group of LGBTI leaders and Democratic State Committee officials that will meet periodically to discuss issues of concern to the LGBTI community as well as to develop concrete plans to increase LGBTI diversity throughout the party.

4. Together, we will work to utilize the talents of the LGBTI caucus, to expand their role in the party and their participation in the political process, including increased representation on county Democratic committees.

We have many challenges before us and many opportunities for real and lasting progress on matters that can have a positive impact on the lives of countless people, now and for generations to come. While these issues, for the most part, directly affect the LGBTI community, they are important to everyone, important to the rich diversity of our communities and important to the values we live by.

The Democratic Party and the LGBTI community have a strong and productive partnership and we have a determined commitment to work together in the months and years ahead to advance our shared goals and priorities.


Joseph Cryan, Chairman, Democratic State Committee

Diane Legreide, Executive Director, Democratic State Committee

Steven Goldstein, Chair of Garden State Equality

Barbara Casbar, President of New Jersey Stonewall Democrats

Joan Hervey, Deputy Executive Director of Garden State Equality

Randy Bishop, a Democratic Township Committee member in Neptune

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Cornus Donating Member (720 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 10:02 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Another update
This is a c&p from another forum where Steven posts:

Friends, I've had one of the most surrealistic moments I've ever had in politics. United Press International reported that the "Cher" impersonator at the Democratic State Conference was actually me, Steven, and that I cried when pulled off stage by the state party. UPI made up the story out of whole cloth, apologizes for it and has already run a corrected -- i.e. completely rewritten -- story.

But in the interim, what resulted were a cell phone full of voice messages, because my cell phone is all over the internet, posing these questions, in all seriousness:

"Are you 70s Cher, 80s Cher or 90s Cher?"

How much do you charge per gig?"

"When will you perform in Canada?"

The answers:

1. I should only be so good looking as Cher from ANY decade. Though I've lost 37 pounds on my current diet - and I'm very hungry - my legs as still nowhere as good as "Cher"s or Cher's.

2. Like hundreds of other hardworking, impassioned progressive activists throughout the state, I don't get paid for my work.

3. My partner Daniel and I would move to Canada - we have family in Toronto - if God forbid we don't win marriage equality in New Jersey. But that is an entirely moot point, because we WILL win marriage equality. It will happen either imminently through the Supreme Court or in the next two legislative sessions by passing a bill.

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rusty charly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. oh, lord...
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HarukaTheTrophyWife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-13-06 11:28 PM
Response to Original message
12. Star Ledger FRONT PAGE Article on this today.
For those of you outside NJ, this is the largest paper in NJ.

He was no Cher, and Democrats were not sunny
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tom Moran
On Politics

She wore a slinky black dress with silver sparkles, just like Cher.

She had curly black hair, too. And canned music so she could sing along with Cher's greatest hits.

But this was not your traditional impersonator. Because underneath it all, this lady was a man.

And that created a ruckus when she arrived at the Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City last week to sing and dance at the meeting of the gay caucus.

"We said listen, this is Atlantic City and it's a pretty irreverent place," says Steve Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, the state's leading gay-rights organization. "So let's have a little fun, and be a little campy."

Goldstein had no idea what was coming.

Party leaders were not about to let the gay caucus fix this image of the Democrats in the mind of the public. Certainly not during an election season.

So as "Cher" walked the hallways at Bally's Hotel and Casino before her performance on Friday evening, the party sent young workers to tear down the posters advertising her show.
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