Only about 60 have signed up for 2-day Democratic event, but more than 300 are participating in Equality Texas Lobby Day
The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus has brought in some big names for its first biennial statewide convention in Austin this weekend, including openly gay Congressman Jared Polis and longtime LGBT activist Matt Foreman, former head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
But Dan Graney of San Antonio, president of TSDC, said this week he’s a little disappointed thus far with the response from the caucus’ members.
Graney said only about 60 people had registered for the convention by Tuesday, Feb. 24, including only a handful from Dallas, which has the state’s largest Stonewall chapter.
"I’m just so surprised," said Graney, who conceded that the recession is likely a factor. "Our theme is ‘Creating Change,’ and there is change in the air for the LGBT community, and I think this is an opportunity for us to take stock of where we stand right now in Texas and what the opportunities are in the future. This is an opportunity for us to learn, to network and to be inspired."
Registration costs $75 and will continue online and at the door through the start of the convention, set for Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1, at the Doubletree Hotel. The registration fee doesn’t cover lodging, but does include two meals as well as admission to a cocktail party and fundraiser for Polis on Saturday night. To register or for more info, go to www.texasstonewalldemocrats.org.
TSDC, made up of Stonewall chapters from around the state, traditionally has met only during the Texas Democratic Convention every two years. However, the group opted to stage its own convention in 2009 after an unprecedented turnout for last year’s meeting.
"I think it’s actually all riding off the back of the Obama campaign," said Erin Moore, vice president of TSDC and president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. "We’re trying to ride those coattails and keep people interested and energized."
In addition to Polis and Foreman, other speakers at the convention will include Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, and Jon Hoadley, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats.
The convention will also include a TSDC executive board meeting and workshops on a variety of topics, such as building and managing local chapters. Jesse Garcia, former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, will be presented with the Buck Massey Legacy of Leadership Award.
The Stonewall convention will be followed by Equality Texas’ Lobby Day on Monday, March 2, at the State Capitol, which thus far has seen much better registration numbers.
Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, said Tuesday that about 350 people had registered for Lobby Day, up from about 200 in 2007. Those who’d registered for Lobby Day included constituents from 85 of the state’s 150 House districts.
"We’ve got good coverage," Smith said. "I’m very excited. These face-to-face conversations, whether it’s with the actual elected official or with legislative staff, they are so vitally important to letting them know what constituents want."
To register for Lobby Day or for more information, go to www.equalitytexas.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 27, 2009.