- Parent Category: Conferences
- Published on Friday, 06 August 2010 03:25
Group Energized By National and State LGBT Speakers
The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus (TSDC) held its first biennial statewide conference in Austin February 28 and March 1 and participants were treated to keynote speeches from national gay activist Matt Foreman and openly gay Colorado Congressman Jared Polis. The conference was timed to occur on the weekend before Equality Texas Lobby Day and many who attended the conference joined hundreds of other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) Texans and their straight allies at the State Capitol to speak to state legislators on Monday, March 2.
TSDC officers reported that a total of 79 registered for the conference. Although registration was less than the 100 expected, it was enough to pay for the event thanks in large part to $3,500 in sponsorships in addition to $5,000 received in registrations. TSDC officers were also pleased to have representation at the conference from all nine active chapters statewide as well as from Polk County north of Houston. According to evaluation forms completed at the end of the event, participants gave the conference high marks and expressed a desire for future biennial conferences to be held the weekend before Lobby Day.
In his speech on Saturday, Foreman (pictured at left, Courtesy John Wright, Dallas Voice) acknowledged that the LGBT civil rights movement has achieved more gains than any other civil rights movement in the 40 years since the Stonewall riots. However, he said that while public attitudes have become more accepting of equal rights for LGBT citizens, there has not been much change in peopleâ€™s minds regarding the â€œick factorâ€ evoked by same-sex relationships and that many still believe homosexuality is morally unacceptable. Foreman brought many in the audience to tears by challenging LGBT people to â€œalways carry a seething angerâ€ when talking to straight people about their lives and to demand that they be treated as moral equivalents as human beings.
On Sunday, Polis (pictured atright, Courtesy John Wright, Dallas Voice) expressed confidence that Congress would be enacting legislation to repeal the â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ policy banning openly gay and lesbian service in the military and to adopt an employment nondiscrimination law that would include transgender persons. He spoke about the importance of giving U.S. citizens in same-sex relationships the same immigration rights that married persons have in immigrating their foreign-born spouses. In addition to speaking on Sunday, Polis was feted at a fundraiser on Saturday night at the Parkside restaurant on Austinâ€™s historic 6th Street.
In addition to Foreman and Polis, openly LGBT elected officials and candidates spoke at the conference. They included Houston City Controller and mayoral candidate Annise Parker, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, Austin City Councilwoman Randi Shade, Travis County Justice of the Peace Susan Steeg and San Antonio City Council candidates Chris Forbrich and Elena Guajardo. Additionally, Houston mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Bill White and Justice Linda Yanez of the 13th Court of Appeals stopped by to greet attendees. Other speakers included National Stonewall Democrats executive director Jon Hoadley, Equality Texas executive director Paul Scott and Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie.
Awards were presented to Dallas LGBT activist Jesse Garcia, the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats and Houston State Representative Senfronia Thompson. The conference also included a TSDC Executive Board meeting and workshops on a variety of topics such as building a bigger club and technology tips for clubs.
â€œMany who attended the conference approached me to express gratitude for this experienceâ€, said TSDC President Dan Graney, â€œand that they were leaving energized to carry on the important work of Stonewall Democrats back homeâ€.
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