The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas was formed in October of 1996 in response to Log Cabin Republicans’ funding and support of a candidate running against a beloved local GLBT ally, Democratic State Representative, Hon. Harryette Ehrhardt.
There was already a GLBT Republican organization in Dallas, the Log Cabin Republicans, but there was a void on the Democratic side and so Stonewall Democrats of Dallas was conceived. In October of 1996, six individuals got together to form the organization. They were Christy Kinsler, Bill Fry, Gary Fitzsimmons, Al Daniels, Sonny Erwin and Michael Milliken. These individuals were already active politically but they felt the need to form a Democratic GLBT organization to combat the emerging right-wing policies of the Republican Party of Texas.
The organization took its name from the famed 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn located in Greenwich Village, New York City. There existed various GLBT Democratic organizations and local clubs throughout the United States at this point, and, under the leadership ofU.S. Congressman Barney Frank, a national affiliation of these clubs (National Stonewall Democrats) began to take form.Stonewall Democratic clubs throughout the U.S. are loosely affiliated – mostly local-centric organizations – with the primary goal of electing progressive, pro-equality Democratic officials.
While there have been challenges retaining a National Executive Director of Stonewall Democrats, our local chapters around the United States have thrived and continue to do so. As we are a State PAC (political action committee), Stonewall Democrats has always been focused on local grassroots activism and representation issues at the local and state levels primarily, and on the federal level secondarily.
The Mission Statement of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas is: Stonewall Democrats of Dallas is devoted to advancing equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Stonewall draws its strength from a countywide network of individuals composed of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and pro-equality allied Democrats. This organization works to elect pro-equality Democrats in municipal, statewide, and federal elections by:
A.) Sensitizing Democratic candidates and officeholders to the political needs of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community.
B.) Promoting the Democratic Party’s message of economic justice and social progress in the GLBT Community.
C.) Encouraging GLBT participation in the campaigns of Democratic candidates at all levels of the Democratic Party.
D.) Facilitating the election of Democratic candidates to public office by maximizing the Democratic voter turnout in the GLBT Community.
While the Dallas Chapter of Stonewall Democrats started out in 1996 with just six members who formed the organization, we have grown to a current membership of nearly 300 paid members and a network of more than 1,000 local individuals via social media and other venues. We are the single largest Democratic club in North Texas.
We count among our members numerous locally elected officials, including Judges, Constables, members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, Dallas County Sheriff,as well as members of the Texas State Legislature. Elected officials and potential candidates know that if you are going to run for office in Dallas, you want the endorsement of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. We pride ourselves as being a service to the GLBT Community at large – who may not have the time to devote to political issues as much as they would like but who do look to us for guidance and recommendations come election time.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas spearheaded the formation of a Texas network of Stonewall Chapters around the State in the early 2000s forming what is now called theTexas Stonewall Democratic Caucus. Currently there are active Stonewall Chapters in Austin, Dallas, Denton, Central Texas (Killeen), Houston, Tarrant County (Fort Worth), San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. The newest chapter is the Southeast Texas Stonewall Democrats in Beaumont, formed in June of 2013. In addition to these primary chapters, there are Stonewall Young Democrat organizations in both Dallas and Houston.
With the help of our allies in the State Democratic Party, the Texas Democratic Party amended State Party rules to grant Stonewall Democrats two seats on the State Democratic Executive Committee, which is the governing body of the Texas Democratic Party. We would like to acknowledge the work and assistance of Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, PhD, herself a former member of the SDEC, in helping us attain these important positions in the State Party.
Historically, our activities involve three key areas:
1) Interviewing and Screening candidates for official endorsement
2) Voter Registration (increasing the number of registered voters)
3) Voter Turnout (getting a higher participation rate at the polls)
Over the last two decades, Stonewall has scheduled and interviewed thousands of candidates who are seeking office. We have an Endorsement Committee that does the interviewing and candidate screening, and they also are responsible for sending out questionnaires as well as asking in-person follow up questions of the candidates.
Our Voter Registration efforts are well known.Stonewall has registered or renewed voter registrations of more than 10,000 people since our founding in 1996. While voter registration can vary, typically we register around 500 people to vote during the course of any year. In addition, we have numerous members who are Deputy Voter Registrars of the Dallas County Elections Department (who are authorized to register people), as well as neighborhood Precinct Chairs around Dallas County.
Our Voter Turnout efforts usually dovetail with candidate campaigns and include block-walking, phone-banking, and voter education information near upcoming elections.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas members have participated in and supported numerous other organizations and events in the Greater Dallas GLBT Community including:The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance (DGLA), The Stonewall Professional Business Association (the predecessor of The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce), Black Tie Dinner,DIFFA, Resource Center, Resource Center Food Pantry, Red Party Foundation, AIDS Arms, Legacy Cottage, The Daire Center, The Cathedral of Hope, Hope 4 Peace & Justice,The Dallas Way, and others.
Our notable accomplishments include:
In 2004, we helped Lupe Valdez become the first openly Lesbian Sheriff in Texas. Sheriff Valdez was subsequently re-elected in 2008, and again in 2012.She also serves on the Democratic National Committee.
In 2006, we helped the Dallas County Democratic Party make a clean sweep winning every countywide office the County.
In 2008, we experienced what may go down in history as the most contentiousPrimary for the Presidential Nomination between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.The turnout was record breaking – and astounded long time politicos.But by the time of the Texas State Convention, Hillary Clinton conceded and had endorsed Barack Obama securing his nomination and ultimate victory in winningthe U.S. Presidency. Barack Obama went on to become the most pro-GLBT Presidentin American History and publicly came out in favor of Marriage Equality during his tenure.
In 2012, Stonewall member Erin Moore was appointed to the Platform Committeeof both the Texas State Convention in Houston, and then to the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.She played a critical role in getting Marriage Equality adopted into the Platform of the Texas Democratic Party – the first State in the American South to adopt such language.
2016 marked our 20th anniversary year.Stonewall Democrats was delighted to take part in helping to turn Dallas and Dallas County from a Republican dominated City and County during our first decade (1996-2006)to one that is now solidly and increasingly Democratic (2006 to Present).
We have been remarkably successful over the last 20 years, and it would not have been possible without the incredible financial support of our committed members as well as the leadership and energy of our founders and presidents who have guided the organization of Stonewall Democrats through both wins and losses.
We would like to acknowledge them and record them for posterity:
Founders: Christy Kinsler, Al Daniels, Sunny Erwin, Gary Fitzsimmons, Bill Fry, Michael Milliken.
Presidents: Christy Kinsler – 1996 – 1998, Timothy McMullen 1999-2001, Shannon Bailey 2002-2004, Michael Moon 2005-2006, Jesse Garcia 2007-2008, Erin Moore 2009-2010, Omar Narvaez 2011-2013, Jay Narey 2014-2016.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas would like to also recognize the late Buck Massey -- a beloved member and Political Affairs Chair of Stonewall who left us far too soon.We submit this history of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas to The Dallas Way in his honor and memory.
More information about Stonewall Democrats of Dallas can be found by visiting our website: www.stonewalldemocratsofdallas.org