July 29, 2015 § 2 Comments
Unidentified heterosexuals – potentially including leadership of local progressive political clubs – have been called out by a member of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club Executive Board. The anonymous party has been told “…you don’t get to attack, undermine and bully queer people if we disagree with you” by Nate Albee via a post to his Facebook wall on Saturday, July 25.
We don’t know who these people are, what (if any) club they are from, or anything that was said to incite this outburst.
Read the statement in full (here).
This new level of drama was reached following a rough week for the Harvey Milk Club. Endorsement season for the fall election has begun and while most of the items expected on the ballot this fall are rather cut and dried in terms of Milk Club ideology, there was one matter that was a major sticking point: whether or not to endorse the re-election of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi.
The endorsement process began with a day of vetting pros/cons at a meeting of the Milk Club PAC. That meeting was held on Saturday, July 18. Some people (me) declined to participate during that day-long slog. As a result, Sheriff Mirkarimi was reportedly either 1 or 2 votes short of having enough to meet the threshold for endorsement causing the PAC to recommended to the membership that there was no need to endorse the re-election of Sheriff Mirkarimi. That’s when the diarrhea began.
Disgruntled participants in the PAC process began posting on Facebook that the Club had abandoned its principles by not supporting Mirkarimi. Gossip was spread stating that the Exec Board was concerned about the effect of including the pariah of San Francisco politics (Mirkarimi) on their slate card for the Fall ’15 election. No one has ever confirmed that sentiment, but there was one denial.
During the days that followed the PAC meeting, I reached out to former Milk Club co-president and current candidate for CCSF Board of Trustees, Tom Temprano. I asked him if he was concerned about sharing a slate card with the Sheriff and he denied that was the case. He said “It has nothing to do with my race.” Temprano has other reasons to oppose an endorsement and those reasons sound very similar to what current co-president of the Milk Club, Peter Gallotta, said to the Bay Area Reporter on July 23rd:
“There are very real concerns from our members about some of the sheriff’s positions including his views on building a new jail, which the club does not support. Many members are standing in solidarity with TAJA’s Coalition and trans women of color in San Francisco who are leading the fight against the new jail,” stated Gallotta. “It has been disappointing to hear that many of our longtime members felt unsafe speaking up about their concerns with the sheriff at last night’s meeting and are now being disparaged by straight people outside of the club who do not understand the legitimate concerns that queer progressives have on this issue.”
Pay special attention to the third sentence. That was the first mention of shadowy “straight people” disparaging Milk Club gays. Two days after that quote in the B.A.R. Nate Albee said on Facebook that his “…beautiful queers are afraid to speak up and defend themselves.” What is going on? Should I be concerned about being bullied? I posted a question in the comments on Nate’s screed:
No one has replied to that question or others that have been raised.
Isn’t it the purpose of a political club to debate among members until a consensus is agreed upon? There was debate (apparently) at the PAC meeting and there should have been even MORE dialogue at the membership meeting. Debate is healthy for democracy, right? Instead of debate there is a growing chorus of defensive outbursts from the Executive Board that doesn’t fit well with facts.
The rationale expressed by Peter and more or less by Tom are debunked in an article posted on 48 Hills on Tuesday, July 21 written by the club’s guardian angel Tim Redmond. Furthermore, it was also reported that at the pivotal PAC meeting, Mirkarimi’s opponent, Vicki Hennessy, made a COLOSSAL error of eye-rolling proportions when she spoke of categorizing inmate populations by genitalia. If Mirkarimi supposedly has problems dealing with trans inmates how does he compare to genital Jane?
Believe it or not there’s even MORE to be explored about the gay political melodrama of the summer that isn’t addressed in this controversy. For example, there’s the story of Mahnani Clay, the once (and former?) VP of Political Affairs and Chair of the Milk Club PAC who was asked to step aside from her role when she began volunteering for Sheriff Mirkarimi’s re-election campaign. Was there something unjust about that request or was the concern about potential conflict of interest handled poorly?
Hopefully there will be some answers forthcoming. If the Milk Club is under attack from a group of shadowy heterosexual thugs shouldn’t we all know about it? Why is there so much intrigue over endorsements for a ballot that is relatively uncontroversial?