Thoughts On Stonewall Democrats
A Texas blogger recently posted that he’d been manning the booth of a group called “Stonewall Democrats.” I’d not heard of this group before. I did a little research and I have some thoughts.
Stonewall itself is not new to me. Stonewall is the name of a gay bar raided by New York City police in 1969. That raid, and the protest that followed the raid, is seen as a founding moment of the gay rights movement in the United States.
When I ran for the Cincinnati School Board in 1997, I was endorsed by Stonewall Cincinnati. The Stonewall I knew mostly endorsed Democrats, but also endorsed local Republicans. Stonewall Cincinnati had no formal affiliation with either party. (I ran as an independent.)
I always thought Stonewall Cincinnati was wrong to endorse Republicans. The record of the Republican Party was so bad on so many essential questions, that it merited no allegiance from any group that claimed a commitment to social justice.
So you’d think I’d support a group called “Stonewall Democrats.” No room for Republicans in that outfit.
Well, I imagine I do support the aims of Stonewall Democrats. I’m sure the people involved are decent and the goals pursued are good. (Here are links to the national group and to the Austin chapter. The web page for the Houston chapter no longer exists. Galveston has a chapter listed but no web page.)
What gave me some thought was the use of the word “Stonewall” linked to one of the major political parties. The website of the national group has a photo of board members with DNC chair Howard Dean.
I don’t wager that the Democratic Party back in 1969 was on board with gay rights. It took a number of years past that point. If gay folks, or blacks, or women, or anybody, relied on one of the major political parties to take the initial actions required for basic human rights, these groups would have a long wait.
We may broadly support the stated goals of a political party. Yet it is also always so that these parties are using us for purposes having little to do with our beliefs. Parties have donors to reward and politicians to elect and reelect. They are entities that exist outside the reasons we offer them our support.
I’ll admit the contradiction here. On one hand, I criticized Stonewall Cincinnati for endorsing Republicans. On the other hand, I’m expressing some pause about linking the Stonewall name to the Democratic Party. Wanting to have it both ways is a luxury open to an observer. It is not an option necessarily open to a participant investing his or her own time and effort for a cause.
That’s okay though. I have no criticisms of the Stonewall Democrats. I just thought the name was interesting and it elicited this blog post. As a matter of fact, I’m going to send them the $35 they request for a membership and sign up myself.
This will make up for the money I stopped sending to the Human Rights Campaign after they endorsed former Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island for reelection in 2006.