I'm sitting here at the LGBT Caucus meeting beside Jerame and Indiana delegate Lori Morris. As I look around the room, I see a lot of Projectors in the room including contributors Pam Spaulding, Terrance Heath, Chuck Wolfe, Alexander Robinson and Jeremy Bishop. I've also seen several readers in the crowd.
Colorado state senator Jennifer Vega and state representative Mark Ferrandino welcomed the caucus with a small speech. I met Mark last night at the NGLTF cocktail reception and I was impressed with how dedicated he is to building a coalition of progressive voters to turn out for Democrats in November. Mark did a shout out for the Bilerico Project that will go up sometime today.
There are at least 500 people gathered in the room; it's an amazing sight. According to DNC LGBT Caucus Chair Rick Stafford, the LGBT caucus is bigger than all state caucuses other than New York and California. Simply amazing. I can't resist sitting here and thinking, "We've come a long way, baby."
It wasn't that long ago that we were the love that dare not speak its name. Now I can sit in a room at the Democratic convention with hundreds of other LGBT folks as we flex our political muscle and network with other queers from around the country.
Watching elected officials like Oklahoma state representative Al McAffrey and Campbell, CA councilmember Evan Low speak about being openly gay and serving in office, really reinforces how far our community has traveled in the past couple of decades. It wasn't that long ago that being queer was political suicide.
Good quote from Tim Gill: "I want to tell you about my other job. I call it career councilor. There are thousands of people in this country who need a new job. Sally Kern was mentioned earlier - she has a fantastic career ahead of her - just not in what she's doing now... The only way bigots are going to learn is if we take their power away from them."
So far, Gill is the most engaging speaker. (This isn't the most exciting caucus. About 1/3 of the room has left.)
Representative Tammy Baldwin has taken the stage to rounds of thunderous applause. She's walked the delegates through her years in the minority party and now the majority, mentioning watching Barney Frank gavel the session closed after passing the hate crimes legislation. She also made sure to mention passing a fully inclusive ENDA as a top priority of next year's Congress.
As she speaks about how inclusive the party platform is this year though, I could hear clear muttering that the words "gay and lesbian" or "LGBT" weren't included. That is really sticking in the craw of most LGBT delegates who feel as if they're being shoved back in the closet.
All in all, while the caucus wasn't that exciting, it was definitely uplifting. I saw most other attendee's attentions start to wander quickly - talking to each other, looking around the room, twittering, etc - and I can sympathize. As I look around here at the end of the meeting, a good half of the caucus goers have left.
At the same time, those who are left continue to listen attentively to Rep Baldwin - much more than they listened to anyone else. Two different people have sat on my left during the meeting; neither of them would shut up long enough for me to hear clearly. The first woman kept talking on her phone (loudly) and whooping and hollering anytime a speaker took a breath - even when it wasn't needed.
As the caucus closes, I'm glad I attended although I tried to get a shout out from Rep Baldwin and her staffer ran me off. While she stopped for several photos with caucus attendees, her staffer was incredibly rude about grabbing the Congresswoman and saying, "We have no time for anyone else."