CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Democratic National Convention gets underway in Charlotte, N.C, this week, and will be attended by at least 534 official LGBT participants, according to National Stonewall Democrats, a marked increase in LGBT participation from four years ago in Denver where just over 350 LGBT participants were identified.
“What an amazing and inspiring convention this will be,” said Jerame Davis, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats. “With over 530 LGBT participants identified for this year’s convention, we not only set a new record for LGBT participation in a national convention, we have sent the clearest message possible that the Democratic Party is the party of inclusion.”
“Dedicated activists,” continued Davis, “including those at the DNC and National Stonewall Democrats, made this historic moment possible by doggedly insisting that LGBT people have a seat at the table and by demonstrating the strength our community can bring to party politics. We didn’t sit around wishing for a better Party, we made the Party better for LGBT people.”
Pride in the Party, National Stonewall Democrats’ program to increase LGBT participation at conventions and within the various state and national Democratic Party organizations, was launched in 2007 with director Rick Boylan at the helm.
Boylan, who currently consults for the DNC, added some broader context to this year’s record LGBT delegation:
“You cannot overstate the critical role presidential campaigns play in working with state parties and Democratic leaders to meet the demographic goals set by state parties,” said Boylan. “The Obama campaign understands that the LGBT community is a key constituency in the 2012 election. Their support for the community and the issues important to LGBT Americans will help reelect the president and elect Democrats down the ballot in all states.”
On Sunday, nearly 1,000 people attended a “Unity Through Community” LGBT welcome event at the North Carolina Dance Theatre building, just blocks away from official convention venue sites in Uptown Charlotte.
Among the guests were Davis and his partner, blogger Bil Browning (Bilerico.com), blogger Joe Jervis (Joe.My.God), former Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andy Tobias, Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer, several Human Rights Campaign board members including Meghan Stabler, former Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Brian Ellner, and Clinton White House adviser Richard Socarides.
By the numbers:
Total number of participants at the 2012 Democratic National Convention: 534
LGBT Delegates: 486 (116.27% of goal; 8.15% of the 5963 total delegates expected in Charlotte.)
LGBT Alternates: 23
LGBT Committee Members: 20
LGBT Pages: 5
Jurisdictions that met or exceeded goal: 38
Jurisdictions that missed their goal: 15
Jurisdictions that met or exceeded their 2008 LGBT participation: 44
Transgender participants: 11 (7 delegates, 3 committee members, 1 alternate)
- For the first time, all 50 states set numerical goals for LGBT delegates.
- For the first time, there will be at least one LGBT delegate from every state
- Three states — Mississippi, Arkansas, Alaska — are sending LGBT delegates for the first time
- The largest LGBT delegation is from California with 76 total LGBT participants
- 6 States are sending 1 LGBT delegate (AK, ID, KS, MS, ND, VT)
“An increase in the number of LGBT delegates is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Boylan. “By ensuring an open and inclusive delegate selection process, state Democratic Party organizations are witnessing an increase in LGBT involvement in Democratic campaigns, as well as Democratic organizing and fundraising activities.”
“As the Party has expanded its outreach to the LGBT community, the community has expanded its involvement in the Party. We are seeing better working relationships with elected officials and more interest in pro-equality legislation at all levels of government,” added Boylan.