The Yadkin County Democratic Party held its convention on April 13 to address the controversial issues facing the party today.
Democratic Party Chair Larry Vestal provided the welcome for the meeting, noting that some last-minute changes had to be performed when the keynote speaker had a last minute conflict and wasn’t able to attend.
Instead the convention was split into various speakers on topics including religion and the party, the importance of writing to your local paper, immigration and LGBT issues.
Rev. Nancy Johnson, a Methodist reverend from East Bend, took to the podium first to discuss how it is possible to be a Christian and a Democrat.
Johnson said it’s important to remember that it is not the place of humans to judge our neighbors.
“My scriptural ground rules when I think about others is Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all was to love God with all of your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself,” Johnson said. “God takes the burden to judge off you and me, and I am so thankful because I am not faced with that.”
Johnson said this is important to remember when dealing with such controversial religious topics such as abortion and homosexuality.
“Our Republican friends seem to want to impose their Christianity on the government,” Johnson said. “We have that thing called separation of church and state. … It’s just not the 1950s anymore. Life has changed, and we have separation of church and state. We need to take the responsibility of teaching our children our spiritual values in the home and the church.”
Dr. James McGrath, a Forbush resident, has been a frequent letter to the editor contributor at the Winston-Salem Journal on political topics. Dr. McGrath said Democrats should this medium to encourage and celebrate diversity.
“We need to celebrate the fact that everybody is different and they have different views,” Dr. McGrath said. “The only way to get it done is to speak up and you can do this by sending a letter to the editor.”
Dr. McGrath said that he prefers to look toward the print medium because television news has become unapologetically biased.
“The way things have morphed on television news everybody is singing the same tune,” Dr. McGrath said. “None of these pundits on television really strike me as great thinkers.”
The convention then welcomed its younger speakers. Moises Serrano, a Hamptonville resident, was asked to speak on his experiences as an undocumented immigrant.
Serrano shared that his parents were Mexican immigrants who came to America as farm workers. After several years of moving around his mother and father were able to find jobs working in a factory but due to the way they entered the country he is trapped in a legal limbo as undocumented.
“I graduated from Starmount High School and I got a scholarship, but they wouldn’t award it to me because of my status,” Serrano said. “Based on current immigration laws I must leave here and live in Mexico for 10 years and then come back on a student or work visa. If I got to school as an undocumented immigrant then I must pay out of state tuition with no financial aid. How am i supposed to do that working two and three part time jobs?”
Serrano said that as a member of the immigrant community he feels personally attacked by the Republican Party and its immigration agenda. He insists that deportation is not sending dangerous immigrants out of the country but people like him and his parents who are just trying to obtain and education and work in the U.S.
He encouraged his fellow Democrats to demand meaningful immigration reform that doesn’t punish other young people like himself.
“We are sending young people back to Mexico, and they are lost because it is not their home country,” Serrano said. “True power isn’t voting people into office. Power is holding these politicians accountable when they aren’t doing the right things in office.”
Bradley Hardy was the final speaker for the convention. He said he was taken aback at how far the Yadkin County Democrats have come over the years.
“Right now in this room we have an undocumented youth and an LGBT youth speaking and this is so innovative,” Hardy said. “I think it’s important when you have a convention to not walk away just knowing who you are but it’s important to know why you are.”
Hardy said that the current issues facing the LGBT community will soon be looked upon the same way racism was looked upon in the 1960s and 70s.
Hardy said that his generation is very concerned with equality and said that 88 percent of people ages 18 to 29 polled said they were in support of “marriage equality.”
“It’s going to take the Democratic Party to stand up and take on this issue,” Hardy said. “We’re going to develop a whole new generation of activists. We can recruit a whole new generation of Democrats if we’re honest and we start to stand up and address the issues.”
Hardy said that it’s important that Democrats choose their phrases carefully. He noted that the issues of marriage equality should not be referred to as gay marriage.
“Homosexual people don’t go gay grocery shopping and then attend gay church,” Hardy said. “They don’t want gay marriage; they want marriage equality.”
Hardy said it’s hard to be a LGBT community member in a county where 82 percent of people voted for amendment one.
“That basically means one of 10 people don’t have a problem with you and if you’re in the room then you are that person,” Hardy said. “I think having this topic on the agenda today is a good first step for the Yadkin County Democratic Party.”
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