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Dean fires gay outreach head in retaliation for outspoken partner's criticism of DNC

The decline of the DNC continues, with what can only be described as a retaliatory firing of Donald Hitchcock, the organization’s gay outreach advisor, because Hitchcock’s partner has been critical about the party’s sad-ass support of LGBT citizens.

The sacking occurred just days after Paul Yandura publicly criticized Dean for doing nothing to stop the avalanche of marriage amendments passing in states. Of course, the public line from the DNC is that the firing has nothing to do with this. BS. (WashBlade):

Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean on May 2 fired the party’s gay outreach advisor Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hitchcock’s domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take stronger action to defend gays.

…”It was not retaliation,” [DNC spokesperson Karen] Finney said of Hitchcock’s dismissal. “It was decided we needed a change. We decided to hire a proven leader.”

Hitchcock declined comment Tuesday night except to confirm that Dean informed him May 2 through a surrogate that he had been terminated. He said he was considering consulting an attorney to decide whether to contest the firing. “This is retaliation, plain and simple,” said Yandura. “This shows what they think about domestic partners.”

Yandura said Tuesday night that Dean was using Hitchcock as a “scapegoat” for problems of Dean’s own making.

“All I did was ask questions about what the party and Dean are doing about its GLBT constituency, Yandura said. “I have yet to see any answers.” Hitchcock’s dismissal came after Yaundura created a stir among party activists, both gay and straight, by sending an open letter on April 20 to gay Democrats criticizing Dean and the party for not getting involved in state ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage.

Yandura charged that the DNC failed to counter efforts by Republicans to promote the anti-gay ballot measures as a wedge issue to win elections. He suggested that gays withhold donations to the Democrats until the party formally addresses issues he raised.

Gee, Yandura’s simply speaking the truth. If Hitchcock was ineffective — one could argue that the party’s nonexistent organizing efforts against marriage amendments at all levels is partially his fault, but come on — the party functionaries at all levels have been running scared from the issue. It’s clear that this position has been offline, and “outreach” has meant pass-the-hat around to the homos. If there are internal, personnel-related reasons for the dismissal, a change in the outreach position is one matter, but without a fundamental change in strategy of the Democratic party re: public support of LGBT taxpaying citizens, we’re in for more of the same no matter who’s sitting in the chair.

I ranted at length about the lame-ass Democrats in my earlier post, Dems to homos: re-closet yourself in 2006, and it still applies:

…the Dems are going to avoid the gay issue like the plague again. They are not interested in reframing the issue and not ready to counter the AmTaliban. The Democrats are just not “comfortable” enough to fight at the national level for our rights. Thanks for the heads-up, Howard.

The truth of the matter is, there is no spine in this party, no desire to really take on Republicans on anything remotely related to gay civil equality on any matter (and I’m not just talking about same-sex marriage). One can only conclude that the party doesn’t see any urgency about the amendments sweeping through the nation, and that it’s a perfectly acceptable position to say “let the states decide” — to make discrimination of a class of citizens permanent law. Many of those states don’t even have a fig leaf of “separate but equal” civil unions/domestic partnerships/”marriage” to offer up to same-sex couples (they can’t be equal because none of the over 1000 federal benefits that convey with civil marriage are available to gays).

At this point, because of Dem silence while the void is filled by the hate mongers demonizing gays, you’ve got some states considering a ban on gays adopting or fostering kids (adoption’s already banned in Florida), deep-sixing same-sex benefits, and choosing to kill anti-discrimination bills that propose adding sexual orientation to existing law — what icing on the cake this is in the daily lives of gay Americans in those locations.

The DNC has a huge credibility problem in the gay community and many of us aren’t going to give a dime until they stop the BS.

As I’ve said before, these Dems cannot handle the level of public scrutiny, instant analysis and questioning about the quite obvious lack of risk-taking coming from those in leadership roles in the party. They do not like to be called out to explain what core issues they stand for, because they know today’s core value is about as firm as the next focus group or poll of the NASCAR set. This kind of polluted, craven thinking is what produces a beast like sHillary, the Great Dem Hope for 2008.

Shakes Sis, as always, has plenty to say that hits the mark:

Nothing but excuses for why things that appear to be indicative of marginalizing the LGBT community from the Democratic Party. And now this latest debacle—about which John Aravosis, who gets the hat tip (care of Angelos), says, “Can you say Valerie Plame?” Good point. I’d like to believe that this is just a matter of someone who got fired for legitimate reasons, but the actions of the DNC over the course of the last year are simply not conducive to subscribing to such a notion. Dean needs to get his shit together. Yeah, I know he was the first governor to champion and secure civil unions in his state, but now he needs to show some commitment to the LGBT community on a national level, because this bullshit is getting tired.

And aside from the more important issue of the ethical failing of abandoning an important civil rights issue, I’m not too pleased with the politics of it, either. Any progressive interested in seeing the GOP get roundly trounced during the next election cycle surely prefers to have an active and dedicated LGBT base to help out—not one that’s rightfully so pissed off that they tell the Dems to go fuck themselves.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding