Denver: Gay Dems meeting early to talk strategy |

Denver: Gay Dems meeting early to talk strategy

Kristen Wyatt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Gay and lesbian Democrats are gathering early to prepare a strategy for next week’s convention, and their marching orders are the same for all states: Make sure other delegates know who you are and what gay voters want this fall.

The Stonewall Democrats started a four-day “boot camp” in Denver Thursday. At the top of their agenda for the convention, which starts Monday, are pushing Democrats to fight proposed gay-marriage bans in three states and passing federal anti-discrimination laws.

With a record 370 lesbian, gay and transgendered delegates to this year’s convention, Stonewall Democrats say they’re primed to drive Democrats’ plans more than ever before. The number of gay delegates is up almost 100 from 2004, and they now make up some 6 percent of all delegates. Only two states ” Nebraska and North Dakota ” won’t send any openly gay delegates.

Stonewall Democrats spokesman John Marble said the No. 1 message of gay delegates should be that a gay-friendly agenda from Democrats will help the party as a whole. The group will argue that joining opposing anti-gay-rights measures on ballots in Arizona, California and Florida will help Democratic fortunes in all races in November.

“We’ve seen where the party has committed to defeating these initiatives, and it’s been a benefit to the party,” Marble said, citing a 2006 vote in Arizona, the only state where voters have rejected a marriage amendment. Marble said Democratic registrations increased in Arizona that year in part because the party chose to fight the amendment.

One topic not on the table next week: a federal gay marriage push. The Democratic nominee-in-waiting, Sen. Barack Obama, has said he favors civil unions but not gay marriage, and Stonewall Democrats are unlikely to push party delegates to call for federal marriage equality.

“As far as the marriage issue, our focus on marriage is on the state and local level,” Marble said. He said gay Democratic delegates will talk more about a possible federal ban on discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgendered employees.

But Marble added that Democrats have made clear they value gay and lesbian votes. Scheduled to address Stonewall Democrats this weekend are Democratic Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

Gay Republicans are putting together a “Big Tent Event” during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next month.

Log Cabin Republican President Patrick Sammon says there’s fresh optimism among gay Republicans that they’ll have a bigger influence of their party at this year’s convention, though they haven’t announced who will meet with them.

“We have our strongest presence ever at a Republican convention” with about two dozen delegates, Sammon said. “We are there to talk about why the party needs to be more inclusive” and Anchorage Republicans to avoid “socially divisive issues” such as same-sex marriage.


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