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LGBT people of color key in S.C. primary
Clinton, Edwards trounced by Obama landslide

by Will Billings . Contributing Writer

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at a rally on the campus of Clemson University in South Carolina.
COLUMBIA — Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) took home the South Carolina gold after the Democratic primary on Jan. 26. According to official numbers from the S.C. Elections Commission, Obama garnered 55.4 percent of the vote, while Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) trailed far behind at 26.5 percent. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) came in third at 17.6 percent.

After the primary winners were announced, political commentators and analysts across the television media spectrum pinned Obama’s large win with the high amount of African-American voters present in South Carolina.

According to The State (Columbia, S.C.), exit polls showed that more than half of Democratic voters were African-American, and that four out of five of those voters chose Obama.

The National Stonewall Democrats were also quick to note their large amount of LGBT organizing before the primary. In a primary day press release, Stonewall Democrats praised the organizing efforts of LGBT South Carolinians and gave attention to the high number of LGBT people of color voting on Jan. 26.

“South Carolina has presented unique opportunities that compelled us to begin organizing in the state nearly two years ago,” said Jon Hoadley, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats. “Of all the early presidential states, it is the only one with a significant LGBT African-American population. We decided to use that as an opportunity to deepen our organizing within the LGBT community, and especially LGBT communities of color.”

Stonewall Democrats staff have been on the ground in the Palmetto State since 2006, when they assisted local activists attempting to defeat an anti-gay, anti-family marriage amendment. The organization said the close relationships made during that work helped them grow throughout the state.

“I think presidential candidates expect to encounter our community at black-tie events on the Upper West Side, but not necessarily on historically black college campuses in Orangeburg, South Carolina,” said Rev. Dr. Keith L. Riddle, the president of the South Carolina Stonewall Democrats. “Our presence this season has demonstrated that our community is everywhere and that Democratic politicians should be prepared to address hard questions and issues that impact our families no matter where they find themselves.”

The Stonewall Democrats said that organizing among LGBT communities of color is a part of their long-term organizing strategies in South Carolina. The primaries acted as a perfect opportunity for LGBT Democrats to channel their enthusiasm into effective actions that have, in turn, changed the way Palmetto Democrats relate to the LGBT community.

The Stonewall Democrats will continue to grow their work across South Carolina. One of their next projects will be organizing LGBT Democrats in every congressional district. They’ll attempt to have LGBT delegates to the national convention present from every South Carolina district. Eventually, Stonewall Democrats hopes that local LGBT Democrats can organize to make positive changes in the state’s Democratic platform.

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