Andrew Ginther and Stonewall Democrats

I attended the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio (SDCO) meeting on April 7th in support of Columbus City Council candidate Will Petrik. I learned that the SDCO had recommended Petrik to be endorsed for Columbus City Council. I was impressed with this bold move. I had only been to one of their meetings before about 10 years ago or so. I remember leaving that meeting on my own as I was definitely one of the few People of Color in the room and there were very few women in attendance. I felt like an outsider. This time, I was excited about attending and anticipated some real progress with this organization.
  This excitement started to fade quickly as I walked into the small pack of mostly white (still) attendees and likely coming from the same social and economic demographic. Most people were friendly but many, including candidates, didn't even say hello. In my culture as I know it, a "saludo" (greeting/hello) is a must regardless of anything. There seemed to be many Andrew Ginther for Mayor supporters in attendance and it felt as though I was at a Ginther rally or meeting. It was obvious they had stacked the room, which is fair play in politics I suppose.

What I didn't realize was that a large number of Ginther supporters had become members in order to sway and change the endorsements.

  Much has been said about the Ginther/Scott dual endorsement process at the meeting, but I am equally concerned about the process for replacing Will Petrik with Jaiza Page. Petrik was on the Stonewall Democrat's recommended slate for endorsement.
  All candidates present spoke during the gathering. The Franklin County Democratic Party candidates stuck to their talking points regarding the "slate" of endorsed candidates. None spoke of their big vision for Columbus. Will Petrik was the only candidate who spoke of the need to listen to the community and his support for public transportation, universal pre-K, quality education in our schools and raising the minimum wage in Columbus. I wish I could have taken a picture capturing the collective look of the "members" when he spoke of these issues. It was the look of: "what does that have to do with us?" It was the look of a group of "Stonewall" members who no longer remember their history and are now insiders embedded in politics as usual and not the community.
  After the candidates spoke, they were asked to leave the room and Stonewall members began the conversation about which candidates to endorse. It was clear that there was a deliberate strategy to replace Will Petrik as the endorsed candidate. I then realized that the Ginther camp was likley behind this strategy.
They bought memberships and packed the room to sway the process.
  When Petrik supporters spoke up, we were asked if we were SDCO members. When we acknowledged that we were not, we were asked to leave the room which was shocking to me. No one else was questioned about their membership.
  As I reflect on this whole experience, I am reminded of the history of Stonewall. It was an organic movement that emerged from an "uprising." This movement was largely about a group of people who were not welcome in, or could not afford other places of gay social gathering. There were hundreds of young "homosexuals" who literally had no home, came to New York without jobs, money, influence or contacts. Many had skills enough to get a job but didn't fall in with people who could help them. They were outsiders in the community at large and even within their own community. This is what Stonewall means to me as an organizer for justice issues. What I witnessed happen at this meeting, was not what I understand the Stonewall movement to be.
  The well-funded corporate political campaign of Andrew Ginther once again found a way to influence and change the decision within an organization. With their political motives and support, they found a way to exclude this Queer Latinx, my partner and others. More importantly it denounced the good work of the Stonewall Democrats screening committee, and in essence said they don't matter either. This alone should send a wake up call about the integrity of the Andrew Ginther campaign. If they are so sure of themselves, why would they have to sway this process? The meeting and the process on April 7th once again told me that I'm an outsider and don't matter.
  I am aware that there are always good people with integrity caught in these systems. Many of whom reached out to tell their story. They fear going against the Democratic Party because they are employed by it or do not want to be rejected by their peers. It is a sad reality coming from the progressive camp.
  As for me, I will continue to speak out for the outsider. I will also vote on May 5th.

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