Retaliation from Dean on Gay Issues?
by Matt Stoller, Wed May 03, 2006 at 05:41:54 AM EDT
This is messed up:
Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean on May 2 fired the party's gay outreach advisor Donald Hitchcock less than a week after Hitchcock's domestic partner, Paul Yandura, a longtime party activist, accused Dean of failing to take stronger action to defend gays.
Dean immediately hired gay former Democratic Party operative Brian Bond to replace Hitchcock, according to DNC spokesperson Karen Finney, who called Bond a "proven leader."
Bond served from 1996 to 2003 as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a bipartisan national group that raises money and provides training to help elect openly gay candidates to public office.
"It was not retaliation," Finney said of Hitchcock's dismissal. "It was decided we needed a change. We decided to hire a proven leader."
Hitchcock declined comment Tuesday night except to confirm that Dean informed him May 2 through a surrogate that he had been terminated. He said he was considering consulting an attorney to decide whether to contest the firing.
"This is retaliation, plain and simple," said Yandura. "This shows what they think about domestic partners."
First of all, Yandura was just speaking the truth, as there is no strategy on gay issues in 2006. Firing Yandura's partner doesn't actually address that problem. Second, this just looks really bad. If you're going to retaliate, do it in a way that's not obvious and clumsy. And if this isn't retaliation, then wow, what a bad and clumsy non-retaliation. And through a surrogate, which is just the cherry on top of a sundae of keystone competence.
Anyway, I guess everyone's entitled to screw up sometimes. I would just urge us not to just sweep this stuff under the rug, where it stays and festers.
Update: Let me clarify a bit. By 'strategy' I don't mean hugs, I mean a method to combat the anti-gay initiatives coming up on the ballot in states in 2006. These ballots are designed to drive up conservative turn-out. There isn't a strategy for dealing with those ballot measures, and we need one. You may or may not think it's ok to fire someone based on what their spouse says. I happen to find it repulsive, but that's not really the point. (A commenter brings up the savvy point that if you think Hitchcock should be fired for his spouse's comments, then what about James Carville and Mary Matalin?)