Saturday, March 05, 2005

Strange Doings in Dallas County

I must admit, this is one of those stories that gets even more interesting the deeper you dig.

In the Thursday Dallas Morning News, I noticed an interesting article concerning the latest meeting of the Dallas County Democratic Party, which could only be described as "contentious". One line in there particularly caught my attention:

[Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hay's] detractors include Mr. Molberg, Democrat Theresa Daniel and Shannon Bailey, head of the Stonewall Democrats, a gay and lesbian political group.

As I dug a bit deeper concerning the principals in this argument, I came upon one view and another view of what happened on Burnt Orange Report, as well as some other takes from StoutDem and 100 Monkeys Typing, and all I can say at this point, perspective is everything.

OK, so one may be thinking at this point, why is NDT, who leans towards the conservative and Republican side of the fence, blogging on this at all? Part of it is the Schadenfreude best expressed in GayPatriot's immortal words, "Ooooo.....Kitty has claws". However, the mature and responsible reason for my concern about it is my belief that infighting among Democrats has the potential to cause some significant damage to the delicate balance of Dallas's political ecosystem that supports and encourages nondiscrimination protections for gays.

The reason is fairly simple. It wasn't that long ago that Dwaine Caraway was gaybaiting Ed Oakley in the 2001 Dallas City Council District 6 election which, as Jim Schutze's seminal article points out, Oakley won primarily because of John Wiley Price's endorsement of him to spite Caraway, which siphoned away direct support for Caraway in the black community, and pushing local black activists into manipulating the absentee ballot system enough to counter Caraway's own machinations of the same.

In this situation, though, Price, State Senator Royce West, State Representatives Rafael Anchia and Jesse Jones, AND Sheriff Lupe Valdez have sent letters to the precinct chairs in Dallas County supporting Ms. Hays, while Michael Moon and Shannon Bailey have sent dueling emails, being sure that everyone knows they are "President, Dallas Stonewall Democrats" and "President, Texas Stonewall Democrats" respectively. In short, the official gauntlet has been thrown down -- the groups that purport to represent gay Democrats want Ms. Hays out.

My response: You're nuts. While it's true that there are reports out there that paint Ms. Hayes as everything from Elphaba to Glinda, the simple fact remains that she has the support of the vast majority of Dallas County's Democratic elected officials. Given that Michael hardly had the unanimous support of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats (the vote to act against Ms. Hayes was 20 - 12), and I doubt that the Texas Stonewall Democrats as a whole have approved this, it seems more than a bit presumptuous to give the impression that gays uniformly want her out -- and it quite frankly gives Price, et al., more than enough reason to stop listening to you, or worse, turn loose the worst of The Potter's House devotees on gays. In addition, going into the very real possibility that the strong-mayor initiative will pass in Dallas, the resulting turf war and alliance-building to protect what powers exist on the City Council opens the danger that polarizing minorities will be excluded.

If Michael and Shannon want Ms. Hayes out for whatever reason, that is their right as citizens and party members. However, the impression is that they are using their Stonewall titles to enhance their "authority" to get Ms. Hayes out. If it were a question of her being antigay, that would be appropriate; however, that does not seem to be the issue in this case. My suggestion is that they continue their opposition to Ms. Hayes -- sans the use of their Stonewall titles.

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