The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club voted to change its bylaws Tuesday night, and for the first time in its history, it will now allow for co-chairs to be elected rather than having one president.
The city’s more progressive queer political group has tried to dump its one-person-as-titular-head structure for several years. But the proposals never garnered the two-thirds vote needed to pass. This time the measure surpassed the 66 percent threshold, said club officials.
The Milk club did not, however, completely abandon having one president. The club could still choose to elect one person to oversee it, or it can decide to elect two co-chairs, so long as the duo is one man and one woman.
The more moderate Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club has long had a co-chair structure so that there is always a man and a woman leading the club. In alternating years it elects either the male co-chair or the female co-chair who then serve two-year terms.
The last time the Milk Club had a female president was in 2002, when Debra Walker held the presidency. The lack of gender parity in its top position led some club members to push for the change in its leadership structure.
It is unclear just what effect the new rules will have on whom the club elects to lead it in 2010. In January the current president, Rafael Mandelman, plans to step down after serving in the post the last two years, and as of now, no one person or team of two club members has mounted a campaign to oversee the club.
Next year is a crucial election year, as voters in San Francisco will elect a new Democratic County Central Committee in June and in November vote for supervisors in even numbered districts, including District 8 in the Castro and District 6 in the South of Market area, where queer candidates will likely be top vote-getters.
The June election is especially crucial, as the DCCC decides whom the local Democratic Party endorses in the November general election. In 2008 progressives claimed a majority of DCCC seats and helped to then elect a progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors.
The Milk Club played a key role in those elections, and progressive leaders will be looking for the club, and in large part its president (or co-chairs) to help achieve similar victories next year.