"Barney Frank: There is still a role to be played by Stonewall Democrats"

 
"The Observer Weekly"
First Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By: Greg Miller
 

Recently Rob Rowley, chair of the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona received a letter from former Dem. Sen. Barney Frank in which he talks about the organization he started in 1998 and says he is "confident the people of Arizona will join those in many other states in recognizing that the past practices of discrimination have no legitimate basis."

Tuesday I spoke with Rowley about the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona and his work re-establishing the organization and its plans:

Observer Weekly:  You and who else reignited the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona?  Can you tell us how that came about?

Rob Rowley:  Here's the story behind Stonewall Democrats of Arizona.  Several months ago my close friend Richard Adams, and I were approached by Don Jorgensen, chair of the Pima County Democratic Party, and Shasta McManus, executive director of the Pima County Democratic Party, about getting Stonewall going again.

Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats pretty much passed away at about the same time as its powerhouse leader, Maurice Grossman did several years ago.  Rick and I accepted the idea and went to work on it.  After a great deal of research we found that if we operated as a state political action committee we would be able to do far more than just operating as a club.  About a month ago Rick and I filed our paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State and Stonewall Democrats of Arizona was born.  Rick and I had both been members of the board of directors of Tucson Pride for the past year and, due to a possible conflict of interest, both of us resigned from the board.

Stonewall Democrats of Arizona is organized as a state-wide organization --a PAC and Democratic club combined.  Our current leadership consists as me as chair and Richard Adams as secretary/treasurer.  Special Advisers include Jo Hafford, field director at Maricopa County Democratic Party, Daniel Hernandez from Tucson's Sunnyside School Board, C.J. Carenza, co-founder and co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Party LGBT Caucus and Tucsonan Vince Rabago, PLC. chair of the Pima County Democratic Latino Caucus.

OW:  How does it feel to have accomplished this?

RR:  How does it feel?  The honest answer is scary.  Arizona's elected Democratic officeholders and candidates are some of the nicest and hardest working people around but trying to remember the complete roster, who's in office and as what, who's moving or trying to move from what seat to what seat and who's new and trying for what seat is daunting.  Learning the interactions, keeping or trying to keep up with Arizona's convoluted campaign finance laws keeps one not only busy but with a slight perpetual feeling of confusion.  Throw in networking with politicos on the national stage and you can imagine how surreal it can get.

OW:  What is your next Big Fish?  What's on the radar for you in the coming months?

RR:  Stonewall currently has its 2014 Equality Survey out to not only Democratic officeholders and candidates but Republican and Independent officeholders and candidates as well.  The deadline for the return of the survey is early June.  Getting these back from the busy candidates, reading and evaluating them will keep us busy for a while.  Next up is the Primary Election in August followed by the General Election in November.  Through all of this Stonewall will continue in its attempt to get people registered to vote, educating voters and trying to energize people -- especially the LGBT community -- to vote.  Further, Stonewall will be hosting fundraisers for not only itself but for various candidates as well.

OW:  How can folks contact you to become members of the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona?

RR:  Stonewall tries to keep its website updated with current happenings and information.  For those wishing to get involved with the Stonewall Democrats of Arizona, membership forms and information can also be found on our page at http://stonewalldemsaz.org.  We can also be found on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/Stonewall.Democrats.Arizona or on Twitter at @StonewallDemsAz.

OW:  Can we reprint Frank's letter?

RR:  Sure!

And without further ado, here's Frank's letter to Rowley:

 

"Dear Robert,

I was very pleased to hear from you and learn of the work you are doing with the

Stonewall Democrats. I am very proud of my role in helping form the organization

years ago, and while we have made great progress in getting legislation adopted

that is supportive of LGBT legal equality, and of integrating full support for those

efforts into the Democratic Party, there is still a role to be played by a Stonewall

Democratic organization, particularly in states where political change is in

process-and Arizona is as we discussed, a prime example of that.

As we have achieved our goals in some parts of the country, for example, full

protection against job discrimination, recognition of our right to marry, and full

integration of proud LGBT people into our armed forces, it has become clear that

opposition to our being treated on an equal basis with our fellow citizens has no

justification other than prejudice. That is, all of the predictions that have been

made over the years that ending legal discrimination based on sexual orientation

or gender identity will lead to social disruption, or intrusion into the lives of the

straight majority, have been conclusively disproven by the results when such

measures have been adopted.

This makes the present a good time for LGBT people and our allies to press our

case. I am confident that the people of Arizona will join those in many other

states in recognizing that the past practices of discrimination have no legitimate

basis, and working through the Democratic Party by means of a Stonewall

Democratic organization is one very good way to accomplish this.

I look forward to joining you at an event sometime in the near future. In the

meantime, I wish you very well in your efforts which I am confident will be

successful.



Thank you,

Barney Frank"