Howard Dean, Paul Yandura, and Obi-Wan Kenobi

A few weeks ago Paul Yandura, a former Clinton White House staffer and a once-loyalist to the Democratic Party, sent us an article published in the Washington Blade. The article was about Yandura: he encouraged gay people to stop donating money to Democrats–he apparently thinks Howard Dean, head of the DNC, sucks at his job and isn’t doing enough to battle anti-gay sentiment in goverment. And he wanted to spread his message far and wide.

The problem: Yandura’s partner, Donald Hitchcock, was the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council. Translation: Howard Dean was Donald Hitchcock’s boss. A few days after that article, Dean fired Hitchcock. Boo-ya.

Everyone in Dean’s camp denies he fired Hitchcock because of his BF’s nasty comments, instead attributing it to “timing.” Which means, of course, that Dean definitely fired Hitchcock because of his BF’s nasty comments. He hired a Mr. Brian Bond for the job instead, who was then interviewed in The Advocate about the DNC’s position on the fight against anti-gay marriage amendments and other assorted political conundrums. Bond’s response? Political mush-mouth mumbo jumbo. Of course. In fact, the only committal answer he gave was about his partner: Bond promises his BF will keep his mouth shut.

The Democrats better get it together quick. We close our eyes and see the hologram of Princess Leia: “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Maybe we can borrow it for the upcoming elections.

Read the interview here:

The DNC’s New Gay Voice [The Advocate]

And for the original article, read it in full below:

Prominent Dem slams party on gay rights
Clinton staffer says DNC abandons gays, urges boycott of donations
Apr. 27, 2006

Officials with the Democratic Party took notice last week when a gay former staffer from the Clinton White House, who held key positions in the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, publicly criticized his party for not taking stronger action to defend gays.

Paul Yandura, a party loyalist, sent an open letter on April 20 to gay Democratic activists charging that Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee have failed to counter efforts by Republicans to promote anti-gay ballot measures as a wedge issue to win elections.

“For many months, a number of us have made appeals to Howard Dean and party officials to care about and defend the dignity of gay and lesbian families and friends, in the same way they defend the dignity of other key constituencies,” Yandura said in his letter.

“All progressives need to be asking how much has the DNC budgeted to counter the anti-gay ballot initiatives in the states,” he said. “We also need to know why the DNC and our Democratic leaders continue to allow the Republicans to use our families and friends as pawns to win elections.”

In a comment that is certain to raise eyebrows among party leaders, Yandura added that until the party provides answers to these questions, “my advice is don’t give any more money to the Dems.”

Yandura’s outspoken remarks create an uncomfortable situation for DNC officials and his domestic partner, Donald Hitchcock. Hitchcock serves as the DNC’s adviser on gay issues as well as director of the DNC’s gay fundraising arm, the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council.

DNC spokesperson Karen Finney said Hitchcock organized a meeting on April 26 between Dean and other high-level DNC staff members and officials of national gay rights groups to discuss strategy for addressing anti-gay ballot measures. Among those attending, Finney said, were officials from the Human Rights Campaign and the National Stonewall Democrats, which represents gay Democratic clubs located throughout the country.

“It was a very good meeting,” said Finney, who declined to disclose what was discussed on grounds that the party doesn’t publicly reveal its election-related strategy.

Hitchcock has declined requests for an interview, saying Dean has put in place a policy that doesn’t allow him to speak to the media under most circumstances.

Yandura said he believes the DNC meeting with gay leaders had been scheduled before he released his open letter. He said he made his concerns known to DNC officials privately nearly a year earlier.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Yandura said. “It shows they are taking this seriously. But the real proof will be if they actually do something.”

Delegate plan causes stir

Yandura’s letter comes shortly after reports surfaced that some members of the DNC’s Black Caucus had expressed opposition to a proposal by gay DNC member Garry Shay of California to add gays to the party’s affirmative action guidelines for selecting delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

A New York Daily News blog reported that Black Caucus member Donna Brazile was among those who raised concerns about the Shay proposal, on grounds that it could result in fewer African-American delegates.

Shay’s proposal calls for a DNC rule change that would require all state parties to establish goals and timetables for selecting a minimum number of gay delegates in the same way they currently allocate certain numbers of delegate slots for African Americans, Latinos, Asian-Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and women.

Sixteen states, including California and New York, already include gays in their affirmative action polices, according to Shay.

Brazile called the blog report “ridiculous” and “totally inaccurate.” She said that she and Shay had a friendly discussion over the proposal and that she would help him fine-tune the proposal to ensure it receives support from all segments of the party.

“I have no problem with the merits of Garry’s proposal,” said Brazile, who frequently appears on TV talk shows as a Democratic Party strategist. She served as chair of the 2000 presidential campaign of Democratic nominee Al Gore.

Brazile has refused to answer questions about her own sexual orientation, even though she has a history of gay rights activism, including a seat on the board of the gay Millennium March on Washington for LGBT Rights in 2000.

She again declined to discuss the matter in a telephone interview this week, though she cited her past gay rights advocacy over many years within the DNC and within the DNC’s Black Caucus.

Daily News blog writer Ben Smith reported he obtained his information about Brazile’s and other Black Caucus members’ reported opposition to the Shay proposal from an e-mail that an unknown person forwarded to him.

New York gay Democratic activist Jon Winkelman, who serves on the board of National Stonewall Democrats, wrote the e-mail, which Smith said he published verbatim in his blog. In his e-mail, Winkelman said he obtained his information about purported opposition to the Shay proposal from gay DNC member Rick Stafford of Minnesota and New York party activist Emily Giske, a lesbian who is one of several vice chairs of the New York State Democratic Party.

Stafford and Giske did not return calls seeking comment.

Winkelman said the e-mail, as published by the blog, was out of context and contained inaccurate information. He declined to say which information was inaccurate.

“This was intended to be a private communication,” he said. “Whoever released it is trying to create divisiveness within the party. That’s my take on this.”

Gay outreach plan assailed

Yandura’s letter also comes after some gay Democratic activists criticized Dean for abolishing the DNC’s constituency outreach desks, including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Desk. Dean said he eliminated the party’s “desk system” last year, shortly after he won election as DNC chair, in an effort to streamline and improve constituency outreach efforts.

He insisted the party’s commitment to gay civil rights was as strong as ever, and his new system of integrating constituency efforts throughout all of the DNC’s departments and offices would strengthen gay outreach efforts. Stafford, who chairs the DNC’s Gay & Lesbian Americans Caucus, said at the time he was willing to give Dean’s changes a chance to work.

But the former chair of the gay caucus, Jeff Soref, said he resigned from the DNC to protest Dean’s action, which Soref said would diminish the party’s outreach to gays just as the party would need a high turnout of gay voters for the 2006 elections.

DSCC omits gay protection

In yet another gay-related development, news surfaced last week that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, an arm of the DNC, removed from its website a personnel-related statement saying the committee doesn’t discriminate in hiring based on sexual orientation. DSCC officials said the removal was a mistake associated with a change in the website and the committee’s non-discrimination policy had not changed.

Gay DNC member Raymond Buckley of New Hampshire said the entire DNC gay caucus supports Shay’s rules change proposal and is hopeful that the party will adopt the change later this year.

DNC spokesperson Finney said the DNC’s Rules & Bylaws Committee is considering the proposal and must approve it before goes to the full DNC for a final vote. She said she did not know when the committee would act on it.

Several gay Democratic activists said they welcomed Yandura’s letter but had mixed views on whether he should have released it publicly.

In his letter, Yandura pointed to efforts by the DNC to purchase television ads attacking Republican-led efforts to pass legislation in Congress that most Democrats considers harmful to immigrants.

“It’s the right thing to do, and I applaud their action,” he said. “Why then is it so difficult for them to do the same for us?

“Why are gays and lesbians continually left to fight these battles alone?” he asked. “Where are our allies?”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. can be reached at [email protected]