By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Democratic Party is set to reorganize itself this weekend at a quadrennial meeting of its governing body, the State Democratic Executive Committee, in which the fractured group aims to fill vacant committee seats and potentially elect new leadership. Currently, the only declared candidate for chairman of the party is Dennis Bates, an SDEC member from House District 41 who recently sent a widely unnoticed letter to the group demanding that current, interim chair Nancy Worley answer a flurry of questions including “Are you a lesbian or bisexual?”
In the letter, titled “The GLBT Question and Does it Affect the Democratic Party of Alabama?” and from the email address “sdecchair,” Bates addresses his concerns that as interim party chair, Worley has been too focused on LGBT rights at the expense of the will of Alabama voters.
Bates claims that at a meeting he attended in 2002, Worley advocated adding a position onto the SDEC’s executive board, what he terms “the inner circle of the party,” for the leader of a lesbian group, a move that he claims should have resulted in “a headline of seismic proportions. Something like ‘Secretary of State appeals for lesbians on Dems Executive Board.’” Worley has previously served as the Alabama Secretary of State.
Further referring to Worley as “politically tone deaf,” Bates says that in the “buckle of the bible belt,” such an action would be a “direct affront their [the average voter’s] views.”
Then, in a bulleted list, Bates’ letter asserts that “the voters of Alabama should have answers to these questions” from Worley:
“Have you attended any meeting of lesbian or GLBT groups since that time in 2002? If yes, how many? Are you a lesbian or bisexual? Would you attempt to influence the party’s political candidates for public office regarding the GLBT issue? Would you financially support any GLBT rights activity or rally? Or encourage the party to do so? Do you agree that the Alabama Democratic Party should take no official position on the issue of sexual preference?”
The answers to this long list of questions, Bates says the end of the interrogatory tangent, “will affect the destiny of the party for now and perhaps a while.”
“Mr. and Ms. SDEC member,” the letter concludes, “please insure (sic) that the party survives and will once again place its candidates into prominent positions of public service. Elect me your chairman.”
Others rumored to be considering a run for chair, or who have historically considered bids, include Redding Pitt, a former Democratic Party chair, Dr. Joe Reed, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, and Nancy Worley herself, who was not readily available for comment on this article before press time.
The SDEC reorganizational meeting will take place in Montgomery at 11:00 on Saturday at the Crump Center on Highland Avenue. It is open to the public.