Obama Night in Queens: Writing LGBT into the Party Platform

Last night, I spent the evening with a platform — the Democratic Party platform. Or at least, the part of it that focuses specifically on LGBT people. Along with 14 others, I participated in a meeting that brought people from throughout Queens to make recommendations about LGBT-specific provisions in the party platform currently being drafted.

The meeting was hosted by the Diversity Center of Queens, which houses Queens Pride House (a center for the LGBT communities of Queens), as well as The Humanist Center of Queens and Andolan – Organizing South Asian Workers.

The Queens meeting was the fifth and last in a series of LGBT platform meetings that took place at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan as well as in Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn. The 15 of us who gathered at the Diversity Center of Queens decided to take the platform recommendations that the group that met at the Center in Manhattan as the starting point for our discussion.

After much deliberation, we decided to add a number of provisions to those in the Manhattan document, including a recommendation that the platform commit the new president to issuing an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in federal regulations concerning adoption. We also added a provision committing the party to supporting an amendment that would add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the 1994 Violence Against Women Act — the latter to add transgendered partners and partners in same-sex relationships to a landmark law intended to combat domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.

We came up with a number of other recommendations as well, and these — along with the recommendations from the previous four meetings in New York City — will be forwarded to the Democratic National Committee, as will the recommendations of similar meetings from throughout the country of members of the LGBT community and other communities. These are all recommendations only, and it will be the DNC platform committee that will work out the final draft of the party’s 2008 platform. But I find it heartening that the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee are for the first time actively seeking input from Obama supporters in the LGBT community as well as from communities of color and other communities that together go to make up this vast and vastly diverse society.

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