Washington, DC - Today, National Stonewall Democrats announced that a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender delegates will attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. When final number counts are released in Denver, it is expected that well more than 350 LGBT participants will attend the convention. This represents approximately 6% of total convention attendees and is 27% increase from the 282 LGBT participants who attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.
"The Democratic Party is being positively shaped by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates who believe in Democratic principles of fair play, hard work, security at home and equal opportunity for all," said Jon Hoadley, Executive Director. "The Democratic National Convention is an avenue for our community to participate in civic life and advance the values that the majority of Americans share. Many of our brightest elected officials, chapter leaders and party officers began their participation in Democratic politics as delegates to past conventions and by increasing the number of LGBT participants, we are growing the ranks of future Democratic leaders."
Stonewall Democrats announced their unofficial count based on numbers reported by state Democratic parties to the Secretary's office of the Democratic National Committee. 324 LGBT participants were reported by state parties to the Secretary's office. Additionally, Stonewall Democrats was able to identify for the Secretary's office 34 more openly-LGBT participants than were first reported. As with previous years, as the convention nears, it is expected that more LGBT delegates will self-identify as openly-LGBT.
Among the currently reported 358 LGBT Participants in Denver, will be:
Christopher Pappas (New Hampshire) who became the first delegate elected in 2008. The Treasurer of Hillsborough County, Pappas was elected as a pledged delegate to Hillary Clinton.
Jason Rae (Wisconsin) who - at 21 - is the youngest "super delegate" in the nation. Rae has declared his delegate vote for Barack Obama. Rae is a Member of the Democratic National Committee LGBT Americans Caucus.
Jane Bradshaw (Georgia), who was elected as a pledged delegate to Barack Obama from Atlanta. This will be the first national convention for Bradshaw, who is a member of the Atlanta Stonewall Democrats.
Javier Morillo-Alicea (Minnesota) who is President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26 in the Twin Cities. Morillo-Alicea was elected as a pledged delegate to Barack Obama.
Amanda Simpson (Arizona) of Tucson. Simpson is a consultant and test pilot for an major aerospace company. Active in local Democratic politics, Simpson is also openly transgender and a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton. Simpson is a member of the Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats.
Jeff Richardson (District of Columbia) who serves as Vice Chair of the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee and as a Member of the Democratic National Committee. Richardson has declared his delegate vote for Barack Obama. Richardson is a member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the Stonewall Democrats chapter in the District of Columbia.
Sonya Lewis (Colorado) was elected a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton in a crowded field due to the competitive caucus system in Colorado. As a lesbian and a Latina, Lewis hopes to use her participation in the Democratic National Convention to promote an action agenda shared by multiple Democratic communities. Lewis is a member of the Colorado Stonewall Democrats,
Paul Tran (Texas) of Dallas. A founder of the Young Stonewall Democrats network, Tran is nationally active in both youth and Asian American organizing within the Democratic Party and has helped to found numerous Stonewall Democrats chapters both in Texas and across the nation. Tran is a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton and member of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats and a past president of the Stonewall Young Democrats of Dallas.
Heather Mizeur (Maryland) who serves as a Delegate in the Maryland House of Delegates and a Member of the Democratic National Committee. As a "super delegate" Mizuer has declared her support for Barack Obama.
The announcement of the increase in LGBT convention participants was made as party of the Pride in the Party program of Stonewall Democrats. This national program seeks to expand the participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Democrats within state and local Democratic parties and, in 2008, specifically increase the participation of LGBT Democrats at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The program had hoped to achieve a base goal of 321 LGBT convention participants (a 14% increase from 2004) and has so far secured a 27% total increase of LGBT delegates and convention participants.
Rick Boylan, former Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection at the Democratic National Committee,serves as Director of Pride in the Party. Rick Stafford, Chair of the GLBT Americans Caucus at the Democratic National Committee and former Chair of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, also works with the program as a consultant. Earlier this year, in an effort to assist outreach to the LGBT community among traditional Democratic constituencies, the program worked with consultants Mandy Carter, former member of the Democratic National Committee and the DNC GLBT and Black Caucuses, and Laura M. Esquivel, a strategist with experience in successfully building bridges between Latino/a and LGBT constituencies.
Most delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention were elected by Democratic voters within their congressional district and approved by the presidential campaigns which they sought to represent. Often complex, the procedures for becoming a delegate vary greatly from state to state. Pride in the Party is an organized effort to help LGBT Democrats navigate the particular requirements of each state and to run successful campaigns to win delegate positions.
Prior to the launch of Pride in the Party, National Stonewall Democrats undertook efforts to require each state Democratic Party to work toward the increased participation of LGBT Democrats within their 2008 delegations. As a result, the Rules and Bylaws of the Democratic National Committee were amended to require each state party to establish numerical goals for LGBT participation at the 2008 Democratic National Convention or implement comprehensive participation and outreach programs. Already, 47 states have established numerical goals for the participation of LGBT Democrats in 2008. Alaska, Arkansas and Mississippi have established inclusion programs but not numerical goals.
The Democratic National Convention will be held August 25 through August 28 in Denver, Colorado. It immediately follows the Stonewall Democrats National Convention, also held in Denver on August 21 - 24.
National Stonewall Democrats is the national voice of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied Democrats, with more than 90 local chapters across the nation. Stonewall Democrats works to elect more pro-equality Democrats - regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity - and to improve the Democratic Party on issues important to LGBT Democrats.