New Hampshire Party Chair and Delegate Ray Buckley is wrapping up his week in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention. Buckley is the first openly gay politician to serve as President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs and a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Buckley has met several times with the DNC’s LGBT Caucus this week, and he joined NHPR’s Peter Biello Thursday to discuss their final meeting.
Give us a sense of what issues the LGBT Caucus has been discussing this week.
We have been celebrating the successes of the Obama Administration: repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” passing hate crime legislation, and exceeding the historic number of openly LGBT citizens appointed to office.
We also discussed the frustration that we’ve not been able to pass a non-discrimination act that’s inclusive. We have a lot to do. Obviously we as a community are working very hard now on the gun issue. While we were always concerned, what happened in Orlando affected us to an extent that was absolutely stunning. I hadn’t been that stunned and shocked since I lived through the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s. I felt like it was part of me that was attacked at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. We have fully committed, as a community, to fight the NRA, and those individuals like Kelly Ayotte that blindly follow them.
With respect to LGBT issues, how do the policies of the two major party candidates for President compare—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
The Democratic Party Platform that we passed two days ago is absolutely the most pro-LGBT platform in the history of America. It’s inclusive of full equality at every level and every instance.
That is the exact opposite of what occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. Never before has the Republican Party been so blatantly anti-LGBT. They essentially said that the LGBT community has no home within the Republican Party. It’s very disappointing, because obviously we’d love to be able to work across the aisle and make our issue a non-partisan issue.
You were the last superdelegate to finalize your nomination vote on Tuesday between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and you spoke to Sanders supporters before they cast their final votes. What did you tell them?
I wanted to talk to them because I know there have been a lot of conversations over the last couple of months about a tradition that we usually do in New Hampshire: we unanimously vote for whoever is going to be the eventual nominee.
I told them that it is more important they do what they feel proud of and what they feel comfortable with. Traditions are fine to be traditions, but this is an incredibly important vote, and if they felt that it was important to them to vote for Bernie Sanders, I absolutely supported their right to do that. I did not want anyone changing their vote because they felt that I would be disappointed, or that anyone else would be disappointed. We absolutely embrace the passion of Bernie Sanders, and that’s why we went through 57 states and territories and allowed every single delegate to vote with their heart.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is going to be out as Chair of the DNC. Is her position one that you’re interested in?
The decision on who the DNC Chair will be is going to be made by President Hillary Clinton after the election, when she sets up her administration. She’ll make the decision on the entire leadership of the Democratic National Committee. I’ve had multiple conversations about the state of the DNC and the state of the state parties, and I feel very comfortable with whomever she decides to make Chair. She’s going to make an excellent choice. There are a lot of people being talked about, and I would be very proud to support any of them.
Would you mind if that person were you?
I would certainly serve the party and the President if asked, but it’s not something that I’d be out there actively pursuing. I respect that it’s her decision, and I’ll abide by whatever her decision is.