Come Out and Vote

Rally & March to the Polls: October 27, 11 a.m. Guava Lamp • 570 Waugh Dr. 713/305-5468

Democrats introduce effort urging LGBT Texans to register, then vote early
by Nancy Ford

It’s important to come out. It’s important to vote. The Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus wants LGBT Texans and their allies to do both.

To achieve that goal, the group has implemented a new program, appropriately titled “Come Out and Vote.”

Kicking off on National Coming Out Day on October 11, the caucus has announced it has launched Come Out and Vote, a statewide early voting strategy, for the LGBT community and its allies.

“It’s kind of interesting that we’ve seen this big shift in the way the Democratic Party is going after LGBT issues and LGBT votes,” says Brad Pritchett, president of the Houston chapter of Young Stonewall Democrats. “It’s nice that the Texas Democratic Party is making an effort to get LGBT people out to vote.”

The group has already begun working on registering new voters. The effort formally began on August 31 with Registration Kickoff Weekend. At that time, members encouraged willing applicants to sign a pledge that they will not only vote Democrat, but they will also be part of the official statewide Come Out and Vote campaign, scheduled October 27.

“We’ve made so much progress under the current administration. It’s focused on issues that are important to us,” Pritchett says. “We’re not just trying to get somebody elected. We’re trying to make sure that the stuff that’s happened in the last four years doesn’t get reversed.”

Pritchett is enthusiastic about the number of new volunteers lending their time and talent to the effort. “We’re seeing more people showing up [at YSD meetings] than ever before,” he says. “People want to do something, whether it’s knocking on a door, making a phone call, or writing a check. You just have to figure out what you can best do to make a difference in some way, shape, or form.

October 9 is the last day to register for the November general election.

Local college campuses are a main target for voter registration, Pritchett says. “We focus on LGBT voters, but we also focus on the youth voters. Young voters tend to skew more progressive on social issues when you talk about issues like marriage equality or any of the discussions about transgenders or people being able to serve openly in the military. Our goal for October 11 is to try to get some of these young people, who feel that they may not be politically motivated, to at least take the pledge to vote in this election, and then explain to them why they need to be voting for the Democratic slate of candidates. Because that benefits all of us when they do.”

Pritchett’s enthusiasm for the Obama/Biden ticket is based on “all the things that this current administration has done to further LGBT equality.

“If we have four more years of this administration, we’re going to go even further with it, hopefully striking down the Defense of Marriage Act,” he says. “We want to see the Defense of Marriage Act go away, and we want to see the Respect for Marriage Act be introduced, and have the votes to have it pass.”

On October 27, the final Saturday of early voting, LGBT Democrats plan “a visibility and informational event” with local bar owners, with volunteers going bar-to-bar talking about the issues and candidates.

“Our goal is to try to get people to take advantage of early voting. The 27th will be about halfway through our early-vote period, which starts on the 22nd, so we’ll have just about a week to get people out and get them to early vote,” Pritchett says. A shuttle service transporting voters from the bars to voting locations is being considered.

“We’re going to make sure that people know what’s going on as far as changes that are taking place that day, like redistricting. We want to make sure they know that if they vote on Election Day, they have to vote at their home precinct—you can’t just vote anywhere.”

Fired up after his recent trip to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Pritchett says he thinks it’s “really cool” that the Texas Democratic Party has put forth a state platform that supports marriage equality, “for the first time, ever!

“It’s a pretty important and incredible time to be an LGBT person in this country,” he says. “If there was ever any doubt that the party of LGBT people is the Democratic Party, that thought has been completely washed away at this point.

“The attitude of Democrats in this election is more an attitude of ‘We’re all in this together,’ whether it’s the LGBT, African American, Asian American, or Indian American communities. We’re seeing, all across the board, that we have to work together and build our coalitions, and use our coalitions. If just one person’s rights are being imposed upon, then somebody else’s rights are being imposed upon.

“Otherwise, we all lose.”

For more info, log on to txdemocrats.org/comeoutandvote.


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