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    April 02, 2008

    Deeply disappointing Donna

    Posted by: Chris

    Brazile The deposition given last month by Democratic Party chair Howard Dean shed some ugly light on longtime operative Donna Brazile, who headed up Al Gore's 2000 election and is a regular political analyst on CNN.

    Dean admitted it was Brazile who objected most strenuously to a proposal put forward by gay Democrats to add GLBT delegates to affirmative action guidelines states follow when selecting those who attend the party's national convention:

    Dean said some “influential individuals” within the DNC Black Caucus, such as Donna Brazile, opposed the plan because it was seen as “an affront to the civil rights movement.”

    Brazile, who chairs the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute, declined to comment for this article.

    Dean said the dispute grew to the point where “we had two very important groups of people in the DNC disagreeing with each other” and several DNC and caucus officials were asked to broker a deal that would make peace on the issue.

    “I wanted equal representation for gay and lesbian Americans,” he said, “and I wanted to achieve it in a way that wasn’t offensive to the history of the civil rights movement.”

    On the one hand, the DNC's infatuation with quotas -- even the committee itself adheres to rigid gender parity -- hardly needs encouraging with the addition of another category, whether or not GLBT folks are deserving. On the other hand, the dismissive slap-down from Brazile reeks of competing to see who's been more seriously oppressed, a pointless contest that only serves to divide groups that ought to be combining their efforts.

    We've seen this before, of course. One particularly galling example was when the National Association of Black Journalists vetoed the inclusion of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association in an umbrella group of minority journalists called -- ironically enough -- UNITY. Groups representing Hispanic, Native American and Asian American journalists OK'd NLGJA's participation but NABJ balked, and even pressed UNITY to change its name to UNITY: Journalists of Color.

    It's bad enough that Brazile would stoop to something similarly petty, especially claiming "offense" to the idea of greater gay inclusion. But perhaps it's more understandable when we remember that Brazile herself is a closet case.* That's right.

    After she was named Gore's campaign manager in October 1999, I assigned a reporter at Southern Voice to look into why the press releases omitted all mention of her role on the steering committee of the Millennium March on Washington, the massive GLBT rights event that listed "coming out" as the No. 1 item on its agenda.

    When Brazile and the campaign ignored repeated inquiries, our intrepid reporter showed up at an Atlanta fund-raiser, where she was again rebuffed. Undaunted, she walked up to the microphone and asked Brazile why she had so studiously avoided acknowledging her own sexual orientation when the MMOW platform celebrated the importance of being open about such things. Brazile said she was, you got it, "offended" by the question.

    A week or so later, when the Washington Post asked her the same question, Brazile was ready with a much better quip in response: "If I had a personal life, I'd have time for a sexual orientation." Clever, but still closeted.

    It's not much of a stretch to see why a closet case like Brazile would find little sympathy in the importance of sending as many openly gay delegates as possible to the Democratic National Convention. But shame on Howard Dean (again!) for allowing her messed up personal situation to create a black-gay wedge within the party.

    * = In anticipation of the inevitably comments I'll get, calling Brazile a "closet case" doesn't mean she's a lesbian, anymore than calling Ken Mehlman the same thing is saying he's gay.  A closet case is someone who is hiding their true sexual orientation, whether or not they put on a public front of being straight or gay. So a closet case could be a gay person pretending to be straight, or a person of unknown sexual orientation who refuses to answer the question. Brazile and Melhman are the latter.

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    Comments

    1. Colin on Apr 2, 2008 9:59:10 AM:

      Wow, all I can say is wow. Donna Brazile sticks it to the gays again. It makes me wonder whether the Rev. Leah Sears, an undicted co-conspirator in the DNC's gay bashing, is battling her own personal demons.

    1. BornGay on Apr 2, 2008 10:28:44 AM:

      NABJ balked, and even pressed UNITY to change its name to UNITY: Journalists of Color.

      Sounds like a familiar tatic...

      Many do not know that in 2007 the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee added the following [bracketed]language to the delegate selection rules to make the Affirmative Action language re Delegate Selection even more exclusive from the LGBT community. And then went and added the gays in a separate paragraph with voluntary not manditory requirements for state parties.

      [The promises of a democratically elected government and the right to vote have not always been extended equally to all Americas. Historically, certain groups of Americans have been explicitly denied the right to vote or have been subjected to discriminatory and exclusionary practices with the intended effect of denying them voting rights. In recognition of this past history of discriminatory denial of franchise and] in order to encourage full participation by all Democrats in the delegate selection process and in all Party affairs, the national and state Democratic Parties shall adopt and implement affirmative action programs with specific goals and timetables for African Americas, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific americans and women.

      Reading with out and with the bracketed language really changes the spirit of the paragraph.

      Now in four years someone at the DNC will have to fix this error caused by Donna Brazille and her cronies.

    1. Colin on Apr 2, 2008 10:32:13 AM:

      Up above, I meant Leah Daughtry not Leah Sears. Apologies.

    1. Scott on Apr 2, 2008 1:18:04 PM:

      Donna Brazille is a lesbian.

      Some gay people have a chronic need to prove to straight people that their whole life doesn't revolve around being gay to the detriment of their own welfare. Donna is a grown woman it's long past time she take control of her own life instead of being dictated to by society's demands that she stay in the closet and undermine equality for gay people.

      If UNITY wants their organization to be racial that's fine by me. And if people want to turn LGBT organizations into racial organizations that is not fine by me. NABJ actions reinforce the stereotype of black organizations using other minority groups' support to further their objectives while never returning the favor.

    1. The Gay Species on Apr 2, 2008 3:50:11 PM:

      We don't want to make sexual orientation itself a litmus test, do we? Many individuals are comfortable keeping their intimate lives private -- both straight and gay. As odd as that may seem in sex-drenched repressive America, isn't one's public pronouncements about public matters the core concern? Whether one sexes toys, or animals, or other humans is relevant to nothing. Rather, their public stances on public issues are. Or, are we now going to shadow-box every public figure to see what they do in private?

    1. JDW on Apr 4, 2008 12:26:41 AM:

      Leah Dougherty has been a very supportive ally to LGBT activists working with the DNC. Donna's machinations were her own. As they are now regarding the disenfranchisement of FL and MI and her taking Bill Clinton's statements in SC totally out of context and warping them so she could pull the race card to boost Obama in that primary.

      Miss Thing has some serious demons.

    1. Amicus on Apr 6, 2008 5:53:58 PM:

      So a closet case could be a gay person pretending to be straight, or a person of unknown sexual orientation who refuses to answer the question.
      ===========
      What about someone who isn't sure, i.e. the category of "questioning" that gets derided every so often?

      Heck, if you read what some people write, that everyone is really bi-sexual, then the answer to the question, "what is your sexual orientation?" is "yes".

      What does it mean to ask someone who is single, not dating, and not hiring prostitutes what their sexual orientation is? Is it wrong to see that as some sort of litmus test for them, a way question their masculinity, their Christian beliefs in family, to cast aspersions their apparent willingness to become a spinster? Put another way, is it an "absolute wrong" for a non-gay person to reply to the question, "If I'm interested in dating you, you'll know my sexual orientation, otherwise, my life isn't a giant personal ad for you...", or is it just a "relative wrong", because such a person ought to be making a political statement, one way or the other, about their sexuality?

      Do "the rules" change if you are involved in "political life"?

    1. Amicus on Apr 6, 2008 5:57:39 PM:

      Oh, and, Donna, gay or non-gay, in the words of Moses, let my people go!

    1. Jennifer on Jun 11, 2008 1:51:09 AM:

      Good for her. I'm sick of the LBGT community constantly riding the coattails of the civil rights movement. The pressing issues of gays in America is a perfectly legitimate and important movement on its own, and if I hear them talking about "the back of the bus" one more time or comparing themselves to blacks, I'm going to scream.

      Kudos, Donna!

    1. Lady Olive on Nov 1, 2008 5:04:55 PM:

      The LGBT movement doesn't make allowances and inclusion for Blacks in general, whyare you asking that the samebe done in reverse.

      You all know the Civil Rights Movement was primarily about Black rights in America which were LEGALLY subjugated. Brazile is right, your attempts at encroachment are disrepectful at best, and racist at worst. Yes, gays can be racist.

      You are part of Civil Rights only when it suits you. When AIDS was no longer a primarily gay disease and became a Black, poor disease, I heard no such clamor. Your silence was deafening. The sudden halt of your activism, startling.

      These two facts make it impossible for you to create a cogent argument to refue Brazile's view.

      I respect your LGBT effort but learn to respect the boundaries of a movement that the only thig you have in common with (to a vastly different degree) is discrimination in some form. Otherwise, you are the same as the mainstream that you claim to not belong to--feeling as if you have a right own everything Black. Including our freedom movement.

      Your sense of entitlement is really astoundingly racist and self-serving.

    1. Greenman on Jan 17, 2009 6:46:31 PM:

      Gays were part of the Civil Rights Movement for blacks also. Does the name Bayard Rustin ring a bell? Coretta Scott King recognized that Civil Rights were not ONLY for blacks or other racial minorities and she supported gay rights. Gays are not a discrete, self-perpetuating group in the same way a racial minority is but they (we) have always existed in every human culture throughout time. You can't name a culture or civilization without homosexuals because there has never been one. In many of them they have been oppressed, from being put in camps during the Holocaust, hanged in the Colonial American period, or for that matter being hanged publicly in Iran today. The experiences of racial minorities and gays are somewhat different but they share oppression of one sort or another in common. I have yet to hear of someone being kicked out of their home because their parents discovered they were black, so don't assume it's all rainbow flags and showtunes for "the gays." You also shouldn't forget that some people are both, like Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, Bessie Smith, and many others. Whether Donna Brazile is a lesbian or not she has often stood on the side of homophobes and I reserve the right to dislike her stance on these issues, not because she is black but because she is wrong.

      Some of you seem to believe there is a competition of suffering, that without some defining event like SLAVERY that rights are not earned or deserved. You do realize how messed up that thinking is, right? I could point out all sorts of abuses of gay people and horrors that have been perpetrated, from shock treatment and mental institutions to being beaten and left in the cold to die, but that shouldn't be necessary. The history of how gay people have been treated isn't pretty but this ISN'T a competition over who has suffered most and gays deserve rights because our Constitution promises we are all born free, not because some quota of suffering has been met. If that is your reasoning, that gays don't deserve rights because they as a group were not in slavery, the only thing that really says is that your own history of suffering taught you nothing about the true meaning of rights and freedom. You treat rights as if they will run out if too many people get them, not as an infinite gift that should be extended to all, but as something that has to be hoarded as if others having rights takes some of yours away. Donna Brazile and all those who believe that should consider that, because it's a pretty ugly mindset.

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