By Betsy Ettorre & Sarah Fancy
Welcome to the second issue of the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Newsletter. Before we get going with the content of this month’s edition, we need to be clear about the focus: DA members as well as members of the DA LGBTQ+ Caucus share in the public outrage over the killing of George Floyd and countless other African Americans at the hands of police. We condemn the institutional racism embedded in American society and the, at times, corrupt, biased criminal justice system in our society. We know that the history of police and policing in the United States can be traced back to slave patrols (Vitale, 2017). After the Civil War and during Reconstruction up to the middle of the 20th century, the creation of state-sanctioned racial segregation used policing as a means of guaranteeing the safety of (white) property while enforcing a racist society founded on anti-blackness (Du Bois, 1935). Racism and racialization (i.e., the concerted effort to propagate racist ideas and actions in society) continue to show how we treat and value African American life in the United States.
Our history of policing and anti-blackness is deeply intertwined with ongoing racial capitalism, increasing militarization, and white nationalism, which have formed the conditions that we are experiencing and fighting against today (Graduate Students Workers of Brown University, 2020). Over the centuries, police brutality has played a key role in oppressing African Americans and people of color. But at this moment in history, the current civil unrest can also be deeply connected to the racial disparities exposed by the coronavirus crisis.
Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, introduced legislation last week calling for the creation of a “truth, racial healing and transformation commission” to examine the legacy of slavery and systemic racism. She said we are experiencing a “a pandemic within a pandemic”. In Lee’s assessment, there is a painful intersection that African Americans find themselves today. They bear the brunt of three crises: police violence, crushing unemployment and the most deadly infectious disease threat in a century. To read more, click here.
How do we as Democrats Abroad and members of the LGBTQ+ community respond? We must use our networks to support the communities and individuals who are directly targeted through institutional racism. This type of commitment may be uncomfortable for those who have not previously participated in conversations around race and white supremacy, but Black lives must be more important than our personal comfort. We believe raising consciousness about anti-black racism is more important than the “luxury” of silence. Let us reflect on important words uttered by our African American heroines and heroes:
“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
- James Baldwin
As we reflect on these important words, let us condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of institutional and structural racism at all times.
IN THIS ISSUE
Christian Walker shares his thoughts on #BlackLivesMatter and his experiences with law enforcement at home and abroad. Matthew Won Piker interviews Clémence Zamora Cruz, an ardent activist and advocate for trans persons in France, and who shares her story and thoughts on racism, gender identity, and how LGBTQ+ communities can stand in solidarity with black and other BIPoC communities. Nathalie Stein provides an interview with the LGBTQ+ DA activist, John Esteban Rodriquez. And Alex Colley Hart tells the story of Gladys Bentley, an openly lesbian and butch-presenting blues musician who rose to fame during the Harlem Renaissance.
If you are interested in taking action in your own country, email us or comment on the Democrats Abroad and/or on DA LGBTQ+ Caucus pages here:
EVENT: LGBTQ+ Pub Quiz FUN(Draiser)
DATE: Friday, June 26th
TIME: 7:30 CEST (13.30 DC time)
Quiz Start - Log in early to test your sound. Suggested donation: $5 per person (more the merrier)**
Join us for a fun evening and opportunity to learn about LGBTQ+ history and culture.
**Donations only accepted from American citizens.
EVENT: Virtual Pride
DATE: Saturday, June 27, 2020
TIME: 12 pm - 10 pm (19.00 – 3.00 CET)
DA Mexico Pride Celebration
EVENT: LGBTQ+ FUNdraiser Virtual Dance Party (2 Offerings)
DATE: Saturday, June 27, 2020 through June 28, 2020
Most pride celebrations have become virtual this year. DA is organizing two events to bring people together to meet up and celebrate pride and the recent Supreme Court ruling. There will be a chat and we encourage everyone to make a donation* if you can. It will be on Zoom and you don't need a Twitch or Zoom account to join.
TIME: The event is open to everyone worldwide at TWO times:
- 10 pm (22:00) EST (Toronto, D. C.), and
- 10 pm (22:00) CEST (Amsterdam, Paris).
- Music will be provided by DJ Dynamic.
*Donations only accepted from American citizens.
EVENT: Talking the 2020 election with Dustin Lance Black
DATE: Thursday, July 2, 2020
TIME: 7:00 p.m. CET, 6:00 p.m. UK, 12:00 p.m. EDT
DA UK is delighted to be teaming up with the DA LGBTQ+ caucus for a webinar with screenwriter, film producer and LGBT activist Dustin Lance Black.
Dustin Lance Black won an Oscar and two WGA Awards for his screenplay MILK, the biopic of activist Harvey Milk starring Sean Penn. He was also a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which successfully led the federal cases for marriage equality in California and Virginia, putting an end to California’s discriminatory Proposition 8. Lance lives in London with his husband, British Olympic diver Tom Daley, and their son.
Lance will discuss what’s at stake in one of the most important elections of recent times and the need for us as Democrats to do all we can to win the presidency and a majority in the Senate. He will also highlight key political issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. There will be an opportunity to submit questions in advance.
REGISTER TO VOTE
Are you an American living abroad? Make sure you've requested your ballot this year!
U.S. citizens living outside the United States need to request our ballots each calendar year we'd like to vote in. Request yours by filling in a request form and sending it in to your local election office.
Remember: Americans abroad vote at the US address where they last resided before moving abroad - you may always vote at that address, regardless of your residency status.
Questions? Visit www.votefromabroad.org/faqs/
CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
POSITION: LGBTQ+ Candidates Team
Help us profile the LGBTQ+ candidates across the USA running up and down the ballot on the DA website and social media. If you are interested in being a volunteer or member of this team email with the subject “Candidates Team.”
POSITION: LGBTQ+ Volunteer Coordinator
Be the contact point for DA members who want to contribute to the LGBTQ+ caucus. If you’re interested, email with the subject “Volunteer Coordinator.”
POSITION: LGBTQ+ Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Team
There’s a lot to do in the days running up to the November election. Our LGBTQ+ caucus needs your ideas and help to find and engage Americans around the world to vote! If you are interested in being a member of this team, email with the subject “Get Out the Vote.”
POSITION: LGBTQ+ Events Team
We’re filling up the calendar with events for the LGBTQ+ community and allies to highlight issues and what is at stake in November and engage Americans to vote. Help us organize great events, in your region and globally! If you are interested in please email with the subject “Events Team.”
CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER
Congratulations to our LGBTQ+ delegates who were elected to represent DA at our regional and global elections!
As part of DA’s Delegate Selection Plan, our Affirmative Action Committee sets goals to ensure that underrepresented groups are part of a diverse and inclusive DA delegation to the Democratic Convention. Our 2020 goal was three LGBTQ+ delegates and we surpassed our goal by electing eight!
Among these are LGBTQ+ Caucus leaders Juan Cerda (Membership and Outreach Coordinator and Biden Delegate). Caucus Co-Chair Martha McDevitt-Pugh was elected to a second term as a DA DNC Representative.
BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS
By Christian Walker
I want to preface by stating that I have respect for law enforcement. I understand the sacrifice they face every day by putting on that uniform and badge to serve the community. There are officers who swear an oath to protect neighborhoods and do so honorably: the “good” officers. However, the “good” police officers seem to remain silent when “bad” officers participate in misconduct, due to the “Brotherhood” mentality. For this reason, we must all be willing to share our experiences and ask the “good” officers, “Why won’t you help change the reputation that has hovered over law enforcement for centuries?”
GLOBAL NEWS: PROTECTIONS FOR LGBTQ+ WORKERS
Workers Can’t Be Fired for LGBT Status, U.S. Supreme Court Says
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ workers. This is a huge victory for LGBTQ+ rights!
Democrats Abroad Statement on LGBT+ Civil Rights Ruling
LGBTQ+ rights are now recognized as civil rights in the USA. Nearly 56 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, the US Supreme Court has ruled that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are federally protected from discrimination in the workplace. We can no longer be fired from our jobs or not hired simply because of who we are and who we love.
Julia Bryan, Chair of Democrats Abroad and Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Co-Chair of the Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus, issued a joint statement on this decision:
"Let's celebrate a victory in the courts, and then continue the work to create a more just society where every individual is honored and respected. A world that works for everyone, with no one and nothing left out. Today would be a very good day to register to vote, request an absentee ballot and ask the people in your life to vote."
McDevitt-Pugh continues, "Until today, it was perfectly legal to not hire or to fire someone from their job in many US states, simply because they are LGBTQ+. Any protections were only at the local or state level, meaning that moving across a state border could mean you lose access to fundamental civil rights.The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Recent events in the US show that we are only free and equal to live our lives when the government and institutions respect and protect the rights and dignity of all people at all levels. Protection under the law is the start. It is not the end of the road."
To read more, click here.
Equal treatment of same-sex couples and their children
Transmission of citizenship to children born abroad to same-sex parents is not guaranteed to LGBTQ+ Americans. Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden commits to change this, stating on his policy website: “Biden will work with the U.S. Department of State and other federal agencies to ensure the equal treatment of same-sex couples and their children in the application of all federal programs, services, and benefits—especially with respect to citizenship eligibility requirements and immigration and naturalization proceedings."
To read more, click here.
LGBTQ+ COUNTRY VOICES: CLEMENCE ZAMORA CRUZ
By Matthew Won Piker
For this month’s article, I had originally intended to speak to several LGBTQ+ organizations in France to learn about what projects they are working on in the midst of Covid-19. My meeting with the Spokesperson of the largest one, Inter-LGBT’s Clémence Zamora Cruz, happened to take place a few days after the murder of George Floyd. This tragic crime shifted the tone of our time together, and I have therefore decided to focus the article on Clémence, who has graciously allowed me to share her story as a trans woman, immigrant, and activist.
SPOTLIGHT OF INSPIRATION: Gladys Bentley
By Alex Colley Hart
Known fondly during her time as the Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Rhythm, Gladys Bentley was an openly lesbian and butch-presenting blues musician who rose to fame during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s.
She challenged gender norms in both her personal and musical style. Bentley donned traditionally male clothing, including what became her signature white top hat and matching tuxedo. She declared her homosexuality openly in songs in a way that confronted male entitlement and proclaimed her own sexual independence.
GLOBAL LGBTQ+ CAUCUS MEMBER PROFILE: John Esteban Rodriguez
By Nathalie Stein
“France for Bernie is my political and organizational home,” said John Esteban Rodriguez, a researcher, interpreter, English teacher, and progressive activist based in Marseille, France.
After an early childhood in Colombia, Rodriguez moved to Savannah, Georgia at the age of seven. He later earned a B.A and an M.A from the University of Georgia in literature, spent a year in Jordan learning Arabic and working with refugees, then moved to Washington, D.C to work at an immigration law firm. Eventually, Rodriguez’s desire to further pursue social sciences earned him a Fulbright fellowship to Paris’s School For Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in 2017, and he’s been in France ever since.
Betsy Ettorre & Sarah Fancy