Happy 2019! My sincerest apologies that this is my first communication of the year! It’s certainly not because I, and the organization haven’t been working hard, we have! For me, between work, Auxiliary activities and Democratic Party activities, time just simply slipped away.
I am extremely pleased to report the State of the LGBTQ Democrats of North Carolina organization is very strong. We successfully executed on our 2018 strategic goals, which were established earlier in 2018 at our Strategic Retreat. A few of our goals and achievements include:
- Increased Visibility. We increased the organization’s Visibility with more presence on social media, in printed materials, at Pride events across the state and at community events,
- Support LGBTQ and Ally Democratic Candidates. We supported our LGBTQ and Ally Democratic candidates with Time, Talents and Treasury,
- Advocate for the LGBTQ+ Community and the Democratic Party. We advocated for our issues within the Democratic Party at all levels, with Elected Officials and in the community. We also advocated for the Democratic Party.
- Increase Chapters and Membership. Here are a few examples of how we grew our Chapters and Membership;
- As a result of the great work and efforts of Clay Eddleman, our 11th Congressional District Chair, we welcomed the LGBTQ Democrats of Henderson County as a fully organized Chapter in 2018. Congratulations Laura Bannister who was elected as the inaugural President! In January 2019 we welcomed the LGBTQ Democrats of Buncombe County. Congratulations to Marcus Blankenship who was elected as the inaugural President!
- In March, as a result of the great work and organizing efforts of Sabrina Huston and George Greene, our 1st Congressional District Chair, we welcome the LGBTQ Democrats of Durham County as a fully organized Chapter. Congratulations to Sabrina Huston who was elected as the inaugural President!
- There are many other Chapter organizing and re-organizing efforts underway that we expect to announce in the coming months.
- We also welcomed new At-Large Members and our Chapters also increased their membership
- Fill Open Committee and District Positions. We filled two open Committee Chair positions, welcoming;
- Jamie Hildreth from Mecklenburg County as the Chair of the Platform and Resolutions Committee and
- Kathryn Vandergrift from Wake County as the Chair of the Transgender Advocacy, Outreach and Issues Committee.
- NCDP Re-Chartering. Odd numbered years are when NCDP Party Officers are elected and the Auxiliaries are re-chartered. We were re-chartered conditionally as an official Auxiliary of the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) at the January 26, 2019 NCDP State Executive Committee Meeting. The condition was for us, and a few other Auxiliaries and Caucuses, is to tweak our Bylaws to include some additional grievance language and once we’ve done that, the Committee will recommend unconditional approval from the SEC at the June meeting and we will receive full approval. Our Bylaws language efforts are well under way. We have submitted a draft of to the NCDP Committee for review prior to finalizing for a vote. Once we receive the Committee’s final blessing, the Bylaws will be approved by the President’s Council, the Executive Committee and, as per our Bylaws, the General Body. As stated in our Bylaws, any changes to the Bylaws requires approval by the General Body and since our Annual General Body Meeting/Convention will not be held until the fall, we will be conducting this General Body vote with an email vote, followed by a conference call voice vote that will occur sometime in late April or early May.
- Chapter Activities. Our Chapters and Members continue to be very active in a variety of ways, from holding Annual General Body Meetings and electing new Officers, to holding events and forums, like the LGBTQ Democrats of Wake County’s Black History Month LGBTQ Panel Discussion that was held on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.
I’d also like to mention the LGBTQ Democrats of Wake County again and a situation that occurred there which demonstrates the importance and added value of this Auxiliary. In mid-January, news broke about an alleged culture of insensitivity towards LGBTQ people at the Wake County Sheriff’s Department under the leadership of the newly elected Democratic Sheriff. Wake County Democratic Party Chair Rebecca Llewellyn immediately contacted LGBTQ Democrats of Wake County President, Rev Clayton Brooks to make sure he was aware of this breaking news. President Brooks was the first LGBTQ Leader and Advocate to reach out to, and meet with, the newly elected Democratic Sheriff and some of his staff, including the Captain who was at the heart of the allegation. Following this initial meeting, President Brooks was asked to join the Sheriff at a press conference and based on what had occurred at the meeting and the Sheriff’s commitments, President Brooks agreed to join and made the following statement, “Steps will be taken over the next few months to ensure the community and all citizens in Wake County know that this Sheriff’s office is committed to bettering itself.” Among the steps President Brooks was referring to in the press conference, was a meeting he was brokering between the Sheriff’s office and other LGBTQ Community Leaders and Advocates, which occurred on February 14th. It was a positive meeting and the Sheriff’s Department is eager to work with the LGBTQ Advocacy groups, like Equality NC and the LGBT Center of Raleigh to receive materials and guidance in the development of better training for the department.
Our local Chapters exist to serve as a bridge between Democratic Party Elected Officials and the LGBTQ community and this episode not only demonstrates the value of our organization, it also proves exactly why such a bridge is necessary. Thank you for your leadership President Brooks and also, my sincere thanks to the other LGBTQ Community Leaders and Advocates for all that you do!
- Democratic Party Engagement. A large number of our officers and members are NCDP State Executive Committee (SEC) members and attended SEC meetings in 2018 and the January 26th SEC Meeting that was held in Charlotte.
This is a busy time of year for the Democratic Party. Precinct organization and meetings occur in February. Many of our officers and members are Precinct Officers or are active in their Precinct meetings and will be Delegates to their respective County Conventions that will be held in March, then go on as Delegates to the District Conventions that will be held in April and finally to the State Convention that will be held sometime in June. County, District and State Officers are elected in odd numbered years and so are the SEC Members. SEC elections are held at the County Convention, so you may be interested in running for one of those seats. If so, put your name on the list or be nominated from the floor and good luck! Thanks to all who serve and who give of your time to attend these meetings, which can be long and sometimes painful, but are necessary and extremely important in the organization and running of the Democratic Party. Our presence and voices are welcomed and needed at every level.
The LGBTQ Democrats of North Carolina 2019 Strategic Retreat is coming up soon and this year, attendance to our Retreat attendance is open to include all organized County Chapter Officers. Typically, it’s just the Chapter Presidents, but because we have so much to do between now and the March 2020 Primary, I felt it was important to have our entire leadership team together not only to provide input, but also to be a part of the decisions and to personally commit to the execution of our goals and strategies. I’ll be sending a follow up with details sometime soon after our meeting.
As I mentioned, we have MUCH to do in 2019 and 2020! In 2019, we have do all that we can to help get Dan McCready, a Democrat and an Ally, elected to Congress in the Special 9th Congressional District election(s) and turn out the vote to elect Democrats in the November elections, all while also doing a lot of work preparing for 2020 and a March Primary! No doubt there’s a lot riding on the outcome of the 2020 Elections, especially for the LGBTQ+ community!
My sincere thanks to all of you who have supported this organization with your membership, your generous donations, your time, your talents and your leadership! We will appreciate your continued support in 2019 and beyond!
All the Best!
Ginger Walker, President
LGBTQ Democrats of North Carolina