Press Release from The Bayard Rustin LGBT Political Club
Last Thursday night approximately 70 people packed a small gallery in downtown Vallejo to form The Bayard Rustin LGBT Political Club, the first LGBT political club in Solano and Napa Counties.
The crowd consisted of members of the LGBT community as well as many of their allies and friends. Political and community leaders were also in the room as the group set about the task of transforming from an ad-hoc group of local activists focused on the 2013 Vallejo elections, to a club looking toward the political future in the North Bay Area.
It was standing room only at the McCree-Goudeau Gallery in Vallejo as John Cleary, northern co-chair of the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party, addressed the group. Currently, Cleary said, the party has 13 LGBT clubs in California. in 2013, 6 new LGBT clubs have formed within California. Clubs normally consist of about one quarter straight members, which was consistent with the turnout at this initial club meeting.
Cleary also noted that most counties do not require their chartered clubs to follow the Central Committee’s endorsements and he believed that the recent election generated enough momentum to change that rule in Solano County’s Democratic Central Committee.
Members of this group opposed the endorsement of Pastor Anthony Summers in the Vallejo City Council race by Solano County’s Democratic Central Committee and Democratic elected officials, due to his relationship with noted anti-gay groups. Besides participating in the production of materials and participating in events with these groups, Summers also partnered with outside forces to oppose Vallejo School’s anti-bullying program, instituted after a lesbian student was discriminated against by staff and administrators.
Some of these same anti-gay groups are currently attempting to overturn AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, which protects transgender school children and allows them to participate in school according to the gender with which they identify. The club discussed working to support the new law, which will take effect January 1, 2014, if the effort to put a referendum on the ballot to dismantle the law is successful.
The newly formed club will be represented on a panel discussion with other newly formed clubs in California at the Democratic LGBT Caucus meeting Nov 23, in Millbrae as part of the state Democratic Executive Board. Details about the meeting Nov 22-24 are at http://www.cadem.org/about/executive_board?id=0009.
The club will also help sponsor World AIDS Day, with the Solano AIDS Coalition, on December 1 from 3 to 7 pm, Georgia Street in Vallejo, as their first public event. The public is being asked to attend and wear red to signify support for the event.
Craig Scott of Vallejo was elected as Interim President of the club. Committees were formed to address by-laws for the new club, outreach and communications, and voter registration. The group chose to name the club after Bayard Rustin, the gay man who is known as the architect for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and who was an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Rustin was also a relentless advocate for worker’s rights. Rustin would have been 100 years old this year, the 50th anniversary of the March. The group will decide in future meetings whether to seek official charter by the Democratic Party. The group intends to hold its next meeting in Fairfield, location and date TBD.
The group can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/BayardRustinLGBTPoliticalClub. To contact or join the club, email BayardRustinLGBTPoliticalClub@gmail.com