Welcome to our third Caucus Newsletter!
In this month’s newsletter, Fred looks at local and state legislative topics impacting the LGBTQ+ community and changes over the course of the Trump presidency. Clearly we are on a path to equality and attention is needed at all levels of government. With LGBTQ+ candidates across the country winning their primaries and on to the general election, we have a great opportunity to forward equality and respect for all. The women's caucus recently highlighted Gina Ortiz Jones, running to flip a red seat blue. If elected she would be the first Filipina-American, out lesbian and Iraq-war vet representing Texas. Fred will be working with the LGBTQ+ Caucus Candidate Team to bring us profiles of LGBTQ+ candidates running in this November’s election.
One of our writers, Fenna Milbauer, spoke with two of DA’s elected delegates to the 2020 convention, Anya Leonhard and Tyler (Ty) Cofield, about their organizing across DA and other state delegations to push for inclusion of Medicare for All in the 2020 party platform. Betsy talks with LGBTQ+ Caucus Co-Chair, Martha McDevitt-Pugh, on her work at the DNC and at DA to get out the vote.
Senator Tim Kaine followed up on a question posted at a recent Democrats AbroD webinar on denial of citizenship to children born abroad to Americans married and their same-sex partners, asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for clarification. His letter was signed by the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and covered by CNN. Check it out here.
Matthew is a young voter who returned to DA (welcome back!) and shares his story about how encouraging it is to be part of the Democrats Abroad community in these times of the Trump administration’s attack on democracy and disregard for public health. Checking in with friends and family and making sure they are ready to vote is something all of us can do to deal with election year anxiety!
With healthcare in a pandemic a concern for all of us around the globe, Christian looks at mental health, with a story on socially prescribed perfectionism and its effects, especially in the Black community. He notes Michelle Obama opened up about how she has experienced mild depression recently. Mrs. Obama is a featured speaker on Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention. Check out How to Watch the Convention and be sure not to miss her Monday speech!
With only 80 days until the election be sure you have a plan to vote, and request your ballot from www.votefromabroad.org if you haven't done so already. Ballots are sent out 45 days before the election, and you should get yours on September 19th.
We hope you enjoy,
Betsy Ettorre, Sarah Fancy & Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Co-editors
We look forward to attending the virtual Democratic convention this week and the historic moment when our presidential and vice presidential candidates are formally nominated!
You can attend meetings of the Democratic Party’s many caucuses and councils throughout convention week, including two DNC LGBTQ Caucus meetings on Tuesday and Thursday, August 18th and 20th, 11am-1pm CST/6-8pm CET.
RSVP for the DNC LGBT caucus meetings at below:
AUGUST 23rd, 3 PM CENTRAL EUROPE (CET)
Co-sponsored by the DA Women’s, Black and LGBTQ+ Global Caucuses.
Capturing The Flag is an urgent cautionary tale that documents what’s in store for the fast-approaching election of 2020, and a close-up look of American democracy at its most vulnerable point. Through the intimate experiences of the film’s citizen volunteers, we are inspired to vote, to help someone else to vote, and to get involved in the growing non-partisan efforts to protect our fragile democracy. The shocking voter suppression we see unfold in real-time in Capturing The Flag is proliferating across the country, as those who control local elections have been emboldened to rewrite access to the ballot box along partisan lines. With verité footage of Barack Obama and Reverend Dr. William Barber II, the film is also a powerful call to arms for what we all can and need to do in the ongoing battle for voting rights.
After the film, we will have a Q&A with the producers, DA GOTV, and Angela Fobbs, GBC Chair.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th, 8 PM CENTRAL EUROPE (CET)
Join us for another round of Drag Queen Bingo evening and help Democrats Abroad get out the vote in 2020. This will be a fun night hosted by once again our queen of bingo, Ms. Cherry Poppins. There will be prizes and performances!
8-10 pm CET/Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam
2-4 pm ET/Toronto, NY
SOME SETBACKS, BUT ALSO SOME PROGRESS ON THE STATE LEVEL
By Fred Kuhr
While many Americans are focused on the presidential race – and Democrats (and even many Republicans) are hoping Joe Biden wins this November – much of the action regarding LGBTQ+ civil rights happens on the state level.
With primary elections wrapping up over the coming weeks, the legislators we elect to congress, state houses and at the municipal level in November will also pay a big role in shaping the LGBTQ+ agenda.
According to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tally from March, about 40 pro-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, although many of them have already died in committee.
On the flip side, twice as many bills have been introduced – more than 80 – that negatively impact the LGBTQ+ community, including so-called “religious exemption” bills. These measures seek to allow religion to be used to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. “Whether a gay person wants to join a college student group, a transgender person seeks counselling services, or a lesbian couple tries to obtain a marriage license from a government employee or access basic medical care at some point in their lives, [such bills seek to open] the door to unequal treatment,” according to the ACLU.
PETITION AGAINST THE PLATFORM
YOUNG LGBTQ+ DELEGATES JOIN THE FIGHT
By: Fenna Milbauer
Young, passionate, and voting no till they see the change they want. Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Bernie delegates Anya Leonhard and Tyler Shamar are steadfast in their commitment to see the addition of Medicare For All in the Democratic party platform. Both Ty and Anya are a part of the most diverse and young delegation DA has ever sent to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) convention, and they are ramping up to push for progressive policies and get into ‘good trouble’.
Tyler or Ty Cofield (they/them) is a 26-year-old from Texas and now lives in Warsaw, Poland. They are passionate about socioeconomics, politics, and the arts and dedicated to upholding the civic responsibility of every citizen to participate in how they are governed and by whom. They write that “it's been so great to relate to other young, BIPoC also going through this process. I think we're the future of the party and running as delegates has helped us to see how we can influence and reimagine the Party in our image”.
Anya (she/her) is a 22-year-old New Orleans voter, studying medicine at Leipzig University in Germany. She is passionate about maternal and LGBTQA+ health. She ran as a Bernie delegate because she, like many young people, has been deeply inspired by Bernie's politics. Writing that being a part of “this delegation means to work with people who care about that change - to work with young, of color, LGBTQA+ people who care deeply about their communities”.
SOCIAL PRESCRIBED PERFECTIONISM
DEPRESSION IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
By Christian Walker
In recent years, depression has been more socially acceptable to talk about than it has in the past. Despite this, it can still be a taboo topic that people are afraid to talk about. Or they may even feel uncomfortable when it’s brought up. However, former US First Lady Michelle Obama did not shy away from discussing her mental health.
On the 6th August, former First Lady Michelle Obama indicated that she is suffering from “low-grade depression because of the pandemic, racial injustice and the “hypocrisy” of the Trump Administration. During the second episode of her podcast, the former First Lady revealed "Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting."
Depression affects every race and ethnicity. In fact, it is the most common mental disorder. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 264 million people, of all ages, suffer from depression globally. In addition, depression is a leading cause of disability (worldwide) and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
GETTING OUT THE VOTE ENTHUSIASTICALLY
By Betsy Ettorre
An appropriate way to describe our LGBTQ+ Global caucus co-chair and one of our DNC representatives, Martha McDevitt-Pugh, is as an “enthusiastic networker.” I had a chat with Martha about her work for DA over the years and her enthusiasm about voting is contagious. We spoke about the composition of the DNC, the importance of Americans abroad voting, her advice on voting in this extraordinary election year, and issues and solutions vis a vis returning our ballots. Martha highlighted DA’s work getting out the vote when she attended last summer’s DNC meeting in San Francisco.
Martha explained that the Democratic National Committee is “composed a minimum of 4 members for each of the 50 states and 7 US territories (i.e., American Samoa, District of Columbia, Democrats Abroad, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands) - that’s 57 state parties. The DNC is a governance body that defines party rules and resolutions.” For Martha, “an important function of the DNC is to bring us together to mobilize to get Democrats elected. It is the place where DNC members gather twice a year to meet and plan with other party leaders.” Martha talked about the bi-annual DNC meetings where “we have lots of speakers – Democratic party leaders and candidates from across the 50 states from local to state levels.” The DNC meetings “bring together a diversity of inspiring leaders from different backgrounds” where “we can all connect and work with each other.” As far as DA and our 8 elected DNC members (Click here to read their profiles), Martha said “we have four (4) seats on the DNC but our four (4) votes are split across eight (8) people. We need to engage with all 50 states to get the vote. That means building relationships and inventing ways to work together with states. At DNC meetings, we remind state parties of the important difference DA can make in elections in their states. Our votes via absentee ballot are going to all 50 States. With one in 25 elections in the U.S. being won or lost by 1%, there are many opportunities for ballots from abroad to be the margin of victory. The more Americans abroad vote, the more Democrats win.”
Throughout our conversation, Martha stressed the importance of doing all we can to get Americans abroad to vote this year. She noted that winning the Senate is the pathway to healthcare for all Americans. She said that Americans voting from abroad “need to be aware that many states require ballots to be returned by postal mail. DA is looking state by state and country by country at how to support our members to return their ballots in time. Having high turnout and a decisive outcome is critical in the November election. That means requesting and returning our ballots in time for them to be counted.”
This is why Martha advertised the monthly featured event (every Sunday until the election in November) “Live Voter Registration Assistance Via Zoom” on the DA LGBTQ+ Caucus website.
Any DA member can drop in for assistance - and bring along a friend to register and request a ballot. Martha reminds us that “there are 4 words to remember this year when voting: Register, Request, Check, Vote. Register and request your ballot at votefromabroad.org and check with your local election officials that your request has been received. When you receive your ballot, vote immediately and then check with your local election officials to confirm that your ballot has been received and counted.”
Martha McDevitt-Pugh lives in the Netherlands and has been DA Global DNC Representative (since 2016) and DA Global LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair (since 2013)
Thank you for reading our pre-convention edition of the DA LGBTQ+ Newsletter. We’re grateful to have you as part of our community.
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