Saturday, June 02, 2007

DNC Hit With Discrimination Lawsuit

Democratic GLBT members will be appalled to read the allegations of a former DNC employee against the national party and its Chairman, Howard Dean. Donald Hitchcock, who formerly directed the party's fundraising efforts in the GLBT community, charges in a lawsuit filed in the D.C. Superior Court that the DNC excluded him from full participation in DNC activities, obstructed his political and outreach efforts, denied him a budget to support his job responsibilities and paid him less than similarly-situated heterosexual employees. Instead, his lawsuit claims he was "threatened, interfered with, and retaliated against based on his assertion of his rights as a gay employee."

The DNC's problem with Hitchcock seemed to arise from critical comments his domestic partner made about the DNC's failure to support efforts to fight anti-gay ballot measures across the country. His complaint notes that the DNC didn't fire James Carville when his wife, Mary Matalin, made highly critical comments about the Democratic Party and President Clinton as a GOP operative. And it didn't fire a niece of the Rev. Jesse Jackson employed by the DNC after Jackson openly criticized the DNC. He is also suing the DNC for defamation, claiming Dean and other DNC officials said he was fired for performance reasons and making racially offensive comments, both of which Hitchcock maintains are untrue.

Hitchcock's lawsuit identifies a number of openly gay employees who have left the DNC under Dean's tenure because of their disenchantment with the DNC's mistreatment of gay staff members as second-class citizens and it's failure to promote social justice for the GLBT community. In a statement about his lawsuit, Hitchcock writes:

Once I joined the DNC, however, senior staff made it clear that they had no interest in LGBT equality. Instead, Democratic LGBT constituents and employees are treated as second-class citizens, whom the DNC tries to ignore unless fundraising is involved, reducing the community to a little more than an ATM. As a DNC employee, I tried to push the organization to treat the LGBT community with greater respect. The DNC ultimately terminated me after my long-term partner criticized the Democrats' lack of a strategy to combat anti-gay ballot measures - a critique made without my input and which the DNC recently admitted was accurate.


Wilson46201 said...
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Wilson46201 said...
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Anonymous said...

Gary, you'd probably have done well to dodge this post, but I admire the effort.

For what it's worth, I (nominally) know Hitchcock, and he's not credible on multiple issues.

The pissy DC gay political community has been abuzz about this situation for weeks. And the pecking order in that gaggle is frighteningly perverse and illogical. Turf is protected at the cost of consistency and common sense, on a daily basis. It all started when Gov. Dean hired and deployed staff based on political needs, not on gender politics.

The plaintiff may have credibility on this lawsuit--I don't know. But for much of his time at DNC, he was an independent contractor, and as such, had more limited standing. There were some former colleagues who severely questioned his appointment in the first place, based on his conduct in prior jobs.

The DNC should not engage in the kind of activity alleged. I doubt they'd be stupid enough to do so. Gov. Dean was a governor and a physician who employed people in his medical practice. He has too much to risk, to engage in discrimnatory employment practices.

His idea regarding DNC staff, was to deploy field persons based not on gender politics, but on ability to perform. and his desire to build up state party organizations in all 50 states. GLBT folks had previously been granted stgaff space and persons solely based on their GLBT status. I have no opinion on that viability. Multiple gay staff persons were deployed nationwide in 2006, but not because they were gay.

Despite efforts to paint him as nutso, Gov. Dean has built a fairly-well-organized field operations staff, sometimes against the traditional Beltway thinking. The Beltway Boys have criticized him for building a field staff in almost every state, instead of hording staff to key areas.

Looks to me like it worked in 2006. Ask multiple new members of the House, and they'll tell you, besides Bush's idiotic war stance, DNC field staff were extremely helpful. Three-quarters of that staff would not have been present had it not been for Dean's initiative.

Let's hope--for all concerned, not just as a partisan viewpoint--that these charges are not true. If they are, in any manner, someone needs to lose his/her job.

Wilson46201 said...
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garyj said...

3 out of 4 comments had to be deleted? Thats good!

I agree with the 741, you should have left this one alone!