May 04, 2006

Howard Dean Fires Gay Outreach Advisor

Howard Dean has fired his party's gay outreach advisor:

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."

Yandura said Tuesday night that Dean was using Hitchcock as a "scapegoat" for problems of Dean's own making.

"All I did was ask questions about what the party and Dean are doing about its GLBT constituency, Yandura said. "I have yet to see any answers."

Hitchcock's dismissal came after Yaundura created a stir among party activists, both gay and straight, by sending an open letter on April 20 to gay Democrats criticizing Dean and the party for not getting involved in state ballot measures seeking to ban gay marriage.

Personally, I think Yaundura's criticism is fair and likely correct.
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