Thursday, February 28, 2008

An open letter to the Latino LGBT community

More names added to the list!


Gloria Nieto & Andres Duque

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Open Letter to the Latino LGBT community:

Like many of you out there, we are thrilled at the opportunity to bring meaningful and lasting change to the White House by exercising our right to vote during this historic presidential election.

As LGBT Latinos and Latinas who happen to be immigrants or descendants from immigrant families we are sick and tired of seeing our lives and values be misrepresented by those who seek to drive wedges in our communities as a means to split our vote and gain power through division.

We saw it when the right wing used same-sex marriage to rile up the conservative vote for President George W. Bush and we are seeing it again with immigration being blamed as the source for all the nation's ills.

We know that these are the politics of fear and that those same politics only served to elect one of the worst presidents in US history.

This is why we believe that, in this presidential election, there is one clear choice.


On the LGBT community: Senator Obama continues to include us in his speeches without prompting or regardless of his audience. He has spoken of his desire to lead all Americans - and has specifically mentioned the LGBT community as being part of his vision of America - during the televised primary debates as well as during presentations in African-American churches as well as Latino gatherings in California.

Senator Obama has said that he supports gender inclusion in a federal bill that would ban discrimination against our communities (as has Senator Hillary Clinton), but, unlike Clinton, he has also said he would do away with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which allows states to discriminate against same-sex couples by only recognizing partnerships between a man and a woman (Clinton has said that she would only repeal part of the bill).

On immigration: At a time when even "respected" news media such as CNN use immigration bashing in order to drive up ratings and the Republican presidential candidates try to outdo each other in anti-immigrant fervor, we have been moved by Senator Obama's consistent overtures to immigrant communities, his rejection of using immigrants as a scapegoat and his efforts to shatter stereotypes that African-American communities won't stand up for immigrants or that Latinos will not vote for a black presidential candidate.

Economic tensions do exist between different communities of color, particularly at a time when the economy seems to be heading into a recession which might disproportionally affect our communities. But we need a president that will do his or her best to address the issues that are driving down this economy and not a president that will take advantage of those tensions for political gain.

We believe that the right person for the job is Senator Obama.

He offers a true vision of hope. A vision that values every single person who lives in the United States and not just an elite few.

A vote for Senator Obama provides an opportunity to change our country's values and embrace our strengths and diversity - and to turn back the onslaught of hate and discrimination we have seen over the last eight years.

For that reason, we would like to ask you to ad your signature to this letter and to simply say:

"We step forward to claim our voice as LGBT Latinos in support of Barack Obama for United States President."

En comunidad,

(List in formation: If you would like to add your name to this statement please send your name, city and state of residence to

• Chris Aguilar Garcia, Los Angeles, CA
• Noel Alicea, New York, NY
• Miguel Ayala, Washington, DC
• Geo Bustamante, Associate Editor,, Miami, FL
• W. Brandon Lacy Campos, Minneapolis, MN
• Pedro Chavez, Los Angeles, CA
• Wilson Cruz, Los Angeles, CA
• Andres Duque, Queens, NY
• Gael Guevara, New York, NY
• Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Austin, TX
• Jorge Irizarry, J.D., Bronx, NY
• Wilfred Labiosa, Boston, MA
• Roberto Martinez,Brooklyn, NY
• Gloria Nieto, San Jose, CA
• Felicia A. Ramos, Chicago, IL
• Martha Ramos Duffer, Psy.D., Austin, TX
• Omar Robinson-Rodriquez, Atlanta, GA
• Juan Ortíz, Raleigh, NC
• Annette Marie Rodriguez, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I got lost

Yes, I got lost in the blogosphere. My sister Virginia at least emailed to check up on me to make sure I was ok. I got caught up in the problems with my feet, my doctor being out of town, taking care of my cousin Riley, working on the Obama campaign, blah blah blah.

I am going to write, very soon, my history as a superdelegate. Just to try to give folks a peek into that world of rarified politics and knives.

But the sun is out, I tulips blooming and must return to the great outdoors.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I was a superdelegate pt.1

In my previous life, I was a DNC super delegate. During the eight years I was on the DNC, there was never a battle for delegates like we are seeing now. bummer for me, I always wanted a phone call from Chelsea Clinton. Ok, maybe not. That is no disrespect for Ms Chelsea. But when I was first asked to be on the DNC I some how had a different vision of what participation in the national level would look like and feel like. I wasn't even close.

My first meeting was in DC. As I came to find out, it either rains, snows or makes one sweat in DC. You have to pay for everything, plane tickets, hotels, meals and cabs. I have never made lots of money in this lifetime. Working at non-profits may make the soul feel good but it does not pay for $200 a night hotels in DC. I learned how to crash at friend's pads and eat at less expensive places in DC like Union Station. I digress, my first meeting was in the middle of a DC rainstorm. I had to stand out in traffic to try and get a cab to the hotel. By the time I managed this, I was drenched and came in looking, um, wet.

Everyone seemed to know each other and I knew no one. This is good time to point out that I was soaking wet and not feeling very confident. Did I say I was wet? I got to the lgbt meeting. Oh wait. It is a gay and lesbian meeting. Back in those days there was no lgbt. I still don't think it is lgbt but then again I never hear anything about the caucus so I don't know.

This actually brings up an interesting question. What has the caucus done for you and me lately? I know through Garry Shays' efforts the number of gay and lesbian delegates at the convention will be bigger. But the caucus has not grown in size and despite the bragging about appointed delegates, I still don't see any major improvements in the states or clubs. Well call me bitter but it is like going to a bar I have been tossed out of, I don't see anything good happening for us unless my man Barack gets the party on a progressive path.

More to come about my experiences at the DNC.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Barbara Zusman

It is a glorious California morning. I have been sitting on the front porch, watching Ruby stalk the bees in the lavender bush. But I have also been crying in the California sun. A kind woman I knew in New Mexico has died and I was feeling the sadness of that loss.

Barbara Zusman was one of a kind. There are moments of time etched in my memory of times with her.

She collected rocks. Not just any rocks but heart rocks, rocks that had been etched in nature into the form of a heart.

The girl loved to shop. One time at Creating Change in Pittsburgh her wife, Rachel Rosen, had done something to upset her. Barbara came sailing into the hotel with her cab driver in tow and both were carrying packages and bags with names like Bloomingdales and some other high end stores emblazoned on them. I turned to Jo and said, "Oh man, Rachel must have done something really bad."

At another Creating Change in San Diego, she and I took off and went to Tijuana. Now getting across the border is not the tidiest process in the world. This time was no exception, we had to wait and wait and then wait some more. She just said to me "This is a disaster." I just cracked up. I explained it was just typical. We had a great time and could talk about our Mexican adventure.

One time when my mother was visiting in Santa Fe, we had lunch with Barbara and Rachel at the Plaza restaurant. They were both so kind and funny with my mom. Then Barbara asked my mother if she was dating anyone. They bonded over that moment. After that they cruised up Canyon Road and spent the afternoon together. It was priceless.

Rachel and Barbara's wedding was such a beautiful day, a true testimony to love. Barbara hand made every single card given out to the guests. We were lavished with incredible food, , breathtaking flowers, little silver plates with their names and dates on them. After everything was over, many folks were running around picking up those plates off tables. During the Jewish service, there is a time when the couple circles each other three times. As it was described later, when Rachel and Barbara did this, there wasn't a dry seat in the house. We were all joyful, seeing two women obviously in love and proclaiming that love in front of friends and family.

At the reception, I still remember the sheer exuberance of the everyone on the dance floor with the two brides hoisted in the air in their chairs. The dykes took over holding the chairs aloft and I remember seeing Libby Atkins cowboy hat between Rachel's legs while holding her chair through the dance. It was priceless.

There are other stories but I will say that Barbara was an incredible artist. She had this really wonderful picture that she had hand colored of three women in undergarments in one of their extra rooms. Whenever I went over to their house, I would make a beeline for that picture and then talk to Barbara about it. She offered to let me pay her in payments for one of her pieces so that I could give it to my mom. I could never make it happen but I really appreciated her generosity.

She once ventured to Egypt on a tour by herself. I was really in awe that she would go to see the wonders of the world on her own. I would call her when tv shows about Egypt were on the History Channel. She was always appreciative of my little gestures like that, to share our love of ancient Egyptian culture and art.

Barbara had a real ability to grow sweet peas in the high desert. She showed me her sweet pea places in the yard. I was, again, in awe. My life has been a little bit better because I knew a little bit of Barbara Zusman. I planted sweet peas this week in her honor. I cried a tear or two for her too. When the plants bloom and bring fragrance to my yard, I will think about my times with her, thank her for the memories and enjoy the sweet gift of her flowers.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bad call, very bad call

Someone has a really bad list. Mitt Romney has a really bad list because I have gotten two robocalls from his campaign. One from the Mittster and the other, here it is, wait, here it comes, was from Rick Santorum telling me how awful John McCain is. Why McCain is not a real conservative, didn't ya know, because he doesn't support a constitutional amendment to make marriage between a man and a woman. OH MY GAWD!

Then I got a polling call asking me which Republican I was voting for. I was so happy pressing the buttons for Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. Heehee, then I got to vote for "traditional values" as the most important factor in my decision. I feel like I am getting to peek over the fence and see naked mud wrestling.

Friday, February 01, 2008

In California

Today I went to a press conference featuring out Assembly member John Laird of Santa Cruz. He has been working really hard to get people to vote yes for Prop 93 here in California. Why? Because under current law, he will be termed out at the end of the year. That would be really bad for the lgbt community but also the whole state of California.

Why? You may be asking why would this matter to the whole state. Well, John is also the chair of the Assembly budget committee. He negotiates with the Governator over things like money for schools, money for HIV programs, money for everything. This state has the fifth largest economy in the world! This is not just any job and it affects millions of people.

John also made the point that a number of legislators who are pro-marriage would also be termed out. That number could be as high as 25 legislators we would lose to term limits. So we would have to start all over again, educating people, working on campaigns to make sure we had friends who will vote the right way for us. If our friends stay in office we can focus on getting others to vote the right way. Or left way.

Any way, voting yes on Prop 93 will be very important to the whole lgbt community. My friend Clark would disagree but I think keeping John Laird in office is one of the most important things we could do for ourselves in California.

That's me next to John's left arm.
Add to Technorati Favorites