What I Wrote to Howard Dean (on the LGBT Statement)

I wrote a letter today to Howard Dean (I sent it via the DNC web form). I am going to post it in its entirety here. But first, I want those of you who are reading to understand something:

1. I am still a Deaniac, whether you like it or not. 2. I was genuinely displeased with the context of the statement he made, which is furthermore inaccurate. 3. This letter is not a flame, it's a letter of conscience from someone who cares and was disappointed, but not ready to give up on the man who is responsible for my political existence. 4. Please don't make this a Dean-bash fest, nor a Dean-love fest. Try to understand my emotions, and tell me what yours are.

Please, please respect #4 above. I don't mean this diary to be about Dean so much as about ME as someone who has genuine feelings in this matter, and this diary is about those feelings. Please try to understand that.

Ok, now that I took you through that, here is the letter I sent:

Re: Your statement about party's policy on LGBT Americans.

Dear Gov. Dean,

First, let me thank you for everything you have done for the Democratic Party. I support your effort to make us a truly national force again by investing in the states, and your straight-forward candid manner. I came to politics through your presidential campaign. "The power to take this country back, and the power to take this party back, is in your hands, not mine." you said. This message of empowerment is what keeps me engaged in the battle for the heart and soul of our country and our party.

I have always believed, and I still believe, that you fundamentally believe in fairness, freedom, and equal rights under the law. Your signing the Vermont Civil Unions bill was courage few politicians have ever show. But that is why I am disappointed that you made an incorrect statement about our party's platform on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Americans. Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network News, you said, "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."

As many have pointed out, that's inaccurate, so I won't belabor the point. But I am saddened that you would say that (this is not particularly about the accuracy, but about the context and emotion of the statement) in order to persuade religious voters. I solely agree with you that religious Americans should be voting Democratic, because we are the party that lives the principles of lifting up the least among us, loving our neighbor, and doing the right thing when no one is looking. But you should not allow the Republicans to use their hostility against people like me to interfere with our arguments. Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious voters should not choose the Democratic party because our party may equivocate on an wedge issue; they should choose the Democratic Party because we are the party of the values that they aspire to.

Governor, I am a young, gay American. I am an immigrant. I came to this country from India when I was 15 years old. I know that had I lived in India all my life, I could never have come out and live my life openly as who I am. I am enormously grateful to my adopted homeland that it offers me that opportunity, among a wealth of other ones, a path I chose to follow. Today I am 23, I am a proud Democrat, and a proud, openly gay American who is in political activism largely because of you. I hold leadership positions on two Democratic Clubs, a statewide progressive umbrella group, and recently a city council campaign. I do not aspire to live a life where my rights can be put on the back burner to "other priorities." Just because I am gay does not mean I don't want the same rights, responsibilities and equally importantly, the same recognitions as any other American, when I find the person I will want to spend the rest of my life with. I do want to be married one day. I have chosen to become an American. I have chosen to give back to my community. I don't think it's too much to ask that I be treated the same as everyone else in this country.

Governor, I have been a "Deaniac" for a long time, and I am remaining one. Because I owe my political existence to a grassroots movement the rest of the country calls the Howard Dean for President campaign. But I appeal to you that please, while you continue to strengthen our party, bring along new voters with the power of our ideals, and do not be swayed by conventional wisdom. I know that you believe in equality, and I know that you believe in the Democratic party. Please use your position, your national stature, and your leadership to advance both.

You have kept your word of being candid with us always. I think I have been candid with you in this letter.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[My Name]

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