Part One Of A Two Part Queerty Analysis

Will Gay Delegate War Spoil The Race?

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In an effort to find the truth, I contacted Eric Stern, a former John Edwards supporter who signed up with Barack Obama‘s campaign following Edwards’ exit from the race. Not surprisingly, Stern flat out denied Winkleman’s words, calling them “unsubstantiated” and “inaccurate.” He later sent an email in which he promised the national campaign definitely backed gay delegates and was “working diligently” to ensure the states meet their mythical goals.

Stern went on to explain what went down in Louisiana, including a worrisome bit about that state’s central Democratic leadership:

Four openly gay candidates ran for delegate in Louisiana. Three of the candidates were pledged to Clinton; one was pledged to Obama. Only one of the openly gay candidates was elected (Stephen Handwerk–a Clinton pledged delegate). Senator Obama sent a letter of enthusiastic support on behalf of Derrin Bergeron–the openly gay Obama delegate candidate. The Louisiana Democratic Party demonstrated some resistance to the LGBT affirmative action goals set forward and approved by the DNC.

“Resistance?” Obviously my ears perked up and I soon found myself on the line with Julie Vezinoti, press spokesperson for the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Ms. Vezinoti and I first discussed that alarming adjective, “resistance,” and the politico assured me that no one, to her knowledge, had tried to strike gays from the delegate selection process, “No, that isn’t true at all… We’re all really positive about getting as many people involved as possible.”

It’s at this point I should offer more extensive explanation on how the delegate selection goes down. Basically, anyone can run to be a delegate – you simply put your name on the party ballot, campaign as if running for office and let the votes stream – or trickle – in. The candidates do, however, have power over whether hopefuls move forward. A source close to the National Stonewall Democrats, who preferred not be named, explains:

The delegate selection process is really a top down thing that the national campaigns have an enormous amount of power over. On both sides, the campaigns are striking down potential delegates who they don’t feel are 100% loyal, people who they think are activists with agendas on the campaign or simply, just to make sure that their loyal people get elected. Or, in the case of the at-large delegates, to make sure they meet up with the diversity goals they fell short.

These at-large delegates are doled out in direct proportion to the candidate’s primary performance. As Winkleman’s letter explained, Obama led in Louisiana, so he received more at-large delegate slots. None of those have been filled with gay folk. Or, at least, no openly gay folk.

Boylan helped shed some light on why some states, such as Louisiana, have been having trouble meeting their mark. “There are so many factors in reaching goals,” he explained. “We have other categories in compiling what the Democratic party looks like in states, like a big puzzle. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Categories, or constituencies, definitely complicate the process, but that’s only part of the problem. Or, rather, problems…

Read the rest of my discoveries – and the Democrats’ challenge – tomorrow. In the meantime, why don’t you enjoy the DNC-provided explanation of the convoluted delegate process. It’s a PDF, so be warned!
Delegate Rules