The Bylaws of The Harvey Milk Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Democratic Club
Updated October 2020
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of the organization shall be The Harvey Milk Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Democratic Club.
ARTICLE II: STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The Harvey Milk Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Democratic Club shall work within the Democratic Party and elsewhere to bring the issue of Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer rights to the forefront of political campaigns; shall lobby for legislation which upholds the rights of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer and other peoples; and shall encourage and support the election and appointment of Out Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queer people to public office. We shall also organize San Francisco's large Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Community into a powerful political voice, demanding nothing less of candidates than full public support for Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer rights.
We shall form coalitions designed to solve problems of joint concern with racial and ethnic minorities and others who understand the interconnectedness of all struggles for equality. We shall build a close alliance with the Feminist Movement, with which we recognize a special kinship in goals. And we shall further economic and social justice for all people. We also expect politicians to take progressive stands on economic issues; on the rights of women, workers, and minorities; on protecting the environment; and on international affairs.
ARTICLE III: MEMBERSHIP, DUES, AND VOTING
A. Membership and Dues
All memberships shall be renewed annually on the first general membership meeting of February. If dues are not paid on or after that date, the Member shall become inactive until they have renewed. Inactive members shall not have membership privileges, including privileges to vote on Club business, endorsements, and officer elections. If the Member has not renewed by the first February general membership meeting of the following year, they shall be dropped from the membership list and must join as a new member to resume membership privileges. Members who renew may resume all of their Club privileges.
A Member is considered in “good standing” if they have paid or renewed their membership dues for the current year or the two previous years. This designation is only for the purpose of representation within the California Democratic Party and has no bearing on voting privileges with this Club whatsoever.
B. Voting Privileges
A new Member’s voting privileges related to matters covering bylaw amendments go into effect at the third regularly-scheduled general membership meeting occurring after that person first pays dues. All new and expired Members must attend three General Membership Meetings and/or Membership-qualifying events before receiving the right to vote on endorsements and for Executive Board elections.
The third-party payments of Membership dues shall be limited to one payment for one other person per year.
For purposes of Article III, Section B, a regular general meeting will be deemed to have taken place once a month on the regularly scheduled day, whether or not such a meeting was actually convened.
ARTICLE IV: OFFICERS
A. Officers, Duties and Responsibilities
The Harvey Milk Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Democratic Club shall hold elections in January of each year for the following officers: One President or two Co-Presidents, Vice-President for Internal Affairs, Vice President for Political Affairs, Vice President of Events and Fundraising, Treasurer, Executive Board for Internal, Executive Board for Political, Executive Board for Outreach, Executive Board for Events and Fundraising (Seat #1), Executive Board for Events and Fundraising (Seat #2), Executive Board for Organizing, Correspondent, and Recorder.
In any year, the office of President may be filled by two individuals, provided that (i) such individuals mutually agree to seek such office together and place their names before the membership jointly, and (ii) at least one candidate shall be a woman. In the event that two individuals occupy the office of President as Co-Presidents pursuant to Article IV, Section A, each shall have one vote on the Executive Committee.
During their terms in office, Club officers who hold management or decision-making positions in campaigns for candidates or measures under Club consideration, are declared candidates, or receive monetary, in-kind, or employment-based compensation for services rendered from a candidate or campaign must recuse themselves from Executive Board level endorsement deliberations and Executive Board level votes related to their candidates and/or campaigns.
No registered lobbyist shall serve as a Club officer.
An Executive Board Member shall be removed from their seat if they miss three consecutive board meetings without providing an official excuse to the President or Co-Presidents.
The duties of each officer shall be those designated in Robert's Rules of Order, last revised edition. The Treasurer shall also be responsible for the receipt of dues and for presenting monthly financial statements and written quarterly reports to the Membership. Each officer shall serve for one year until the next January election or until a successor is elected.
Up to five at-large board officers may be appointed by the President or Co-Presidents, pending the approval of a majority of the Club’s Membership.
B. Nominations and Elections
Nominations of officers shall be held at the regular meeting of the Membership in December of each year. Additional names may be placed in nomination at or before the January meeting prior to voting. Newly elected officers shall take office immediately upon election.
In order to be elected, candidates must receive a majority vote in the affirmative from all ballots cast. If no one receives the number of votes needed for election, the office shall be deemed vacant.
Approval voting shall be used in the election of Club officers.
No candidate may serve on the Executive Board unless dues are paid no later than one month following a candidate’s election.
In the event of vacancies in the office of President or the offices of Co-President, the Vice-President for Internal Affairs, or whoever falls next within the line of succession, shall succeed to the presidency until an election can be held. Such an election shall be held at the next general membership meeting, not to exceed one month's time, provided the Membership has advance notice of the pending election. The President or Co-Presidents may fill vacancies in any lower office by making a nomination at a general membership meeting. For the nomination to be confirmed, a nominee must receive a majority vote of the Membership at the general membership meeting immediately following the meeting when their nomination took place.
Should any Member move for the dismissal of an officer of the Club, and a second is made, and a majority of the Membership votes in agreement, that motion shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting for the review of all Members and shall be voted on at the next general membership meeting. Dismissal of any officer shall require a two-thirds affirmative vote of the Membership.
E. Line of Succession
The official line of succession of officers within this Club shall go as follows: The President or Co-Presidents, Vice-President for Internal Affairs, Vice President for Political Affairs, Vice-President for Events and Fundraising, Treasurer, Executive Board for Internal, Executive Board for Political, Executive Board for Outreach, Executive Board for Events and Fundraising (Seat #1), Executive Board for Events and Fundraising (Seat #2), Executive Board for Organizing, Correspondent, Recorder, The Immediate Past President or Co-Presidents, At-Large Officer (Seat #1), At-Large Officer (Seat #2), At-Large Officer (Seat #3), At-Large Officer (Seat #4), and At-Large Officer (Seat #5).
ARTICLE V: COMMITTEES
The following committees are established to ensure effective operation and to open lines of communication between the membership and the executive committee.
A. The Executive Committee
The Executive Committee shall consist of all elected officers and caucus chairs and the immediate past President or Co-Presidents. Each officer shall have one vote. Each committee or caucus chair shall have one vote. That vote shall be split amongst the committee or caucus chairs if that committee or caucus has more than one chair, and more than one chair is present. Any committee or caucus that has not met for two months shall be considered disbanded and the chairs shall no longer be members of the Executive Committee nor have voting privileges on the Executive Committee.
It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to plan the agendas of the general membership meetings; to invite special speakers covering topics of interest to club members; to act on behalf of the Club on routine matters and in emergency situations; and to oversee the standing of club committees and to ensure they function on a timely basis.
A quorum of the Executive Committee shall be a majority of its members.
Regular meetings of the Executive Committee shall be set by the general membership, and the dates and times shall be published in the club newsletter. Meetings shall be open to all club members, but voting shall be limited to members of the Executive Committee.
Special meetings of the Executive Committee may be called at the request of the President, one of the Co-Presidents, or upon the request of any four of its members. Reasonable attempts shall be made to notify each member of the Executive Committee of a special meeting.
B. The Planning Committee
It shall be the duty of the Planning Committee to assist in forming the agendas for the general membership meetings and to discuss issues and make recommendations to the club. The Planning Committee shall be open to all members of the Club.
Meetings of the Planning Committee shall be set on a regular basis by the Membership, and the dates and times shall be published in the newsletter.
C. The Political Action Committee
The chair of the Political Action Committee shall be the Club's Vice President for Political Affairs.
It shall be the duty of the Political Action Committee to monitor the local, state and national political climates; to initiate club action on issues; to investigate and conduct impartial hearings on issues confronting the Club and then make recommendations to the general membership; to organize and conduct the endorsement process for all local non-partisan, Democratic primary and general elections, including candidates and propositions; and to coordinate voter registration efforts.
D. Membership Committee
It shall be the duty of the Membership Committee to keep membership records and to notify Club Members of upcoming dues; to conduct community outreach designed to recruit new members; to plan social activities designed to acquaint new Members with the Club; and to provide committee chairs with the names of members and their areas of interest regarding Club activities.
E. Fundraising Committee
It shall be the duty of the Fundraising Committee to plan and coordinate Fundraising activities designed to give the club a solid financial base, in order to ensure the Club's ability to financially contribute to the campaigns of campaigns of endorsed candidates and issues.
F. Newsletter Committee
It shall be the duty of the Newsletter Committee to solicit, review and prepare for publication articles of interest to the club membership; to establish editorial policies keeping with the philosophy and actions of the Club’s membership; and to publish and distribute the newsletter on a timely basis to ensure that it reaches the Members at least five days advance of the general meeting.
Any group of ten members with common goals and/or interest may form a caucus by submitting a written request for recognition to the General Membership, including a statement of purpose and caucus organization. Recognition as a caucus shall be achieved by a majority vote of the general membership.
To form a caucus, a list of the names of ten active members must be given in writing to the E-Board. Caucuses should be reviewed annually, and at the E-Board's discretion, caucuses may be required to re-qualify.
Caucus chairs should be elected annually. And a caucus that has not held noticed meetings within the last six months might be asked to re-qualify.
Members may only join a total of two caucuses at the most, thereby enabling them to give due diligence to the matter for which the caucus was formed.
H. Actions by Committees and Caucuses
All actions by committees and caucuses require the approval of the Club, or in an emergency, the Executive Committee. No committee or caucus may endorse candidates or propositions. No committee or caucus may use the Club's name in support of candidates or issues without the approval of the Club, or in an emergency, the Executive Committee.
ARTICLE VI: MEETINGS
A. Regular Meetings
Regular meetings of the Membership shall be held at least once a month on a date determined by the Executive Committee. Any motions of business may be in order, except as otherwise specified in these bylaws.
B. Special Meetings
Special meetings of the Club may be called by the President, one of the Co-Presidents, by a majority of the Membership at a regular meeting, or upon written demand from ten percent of the membership rolls.
Advance written notice shall be given to the Membership for all meetings of the Club, as well as for all Executive Committee meetings when feasible.
A quorum for any General Membership meeting shall consist of either ten percent of the Club’s Membership, or twenty-five members, whichever is less.
There shall be no proxy voting.
D. Endorsement Election Procedures
Regarding P.A.C. Elections: A Member’s voting privileges for a P.A.C. endorsement and related motions go into effect after attending any required qualifying P.A.C. meeting, as determined by the Executive Board. Only Members of this Club with full voting privileges may be allowed to vote in a P.A.C. endorsement.
Regarding General Membership Elections: No vote to endorse a candidate or proposition, or to rescind an endorsement, shall be allowed unless the Membership, at a prior general membership meeting, has approved holding the endorsement vote on the date such vote will take place, and notice of the endorsement vote is published at least five days prior to that voting meeting. To rescind an endorsement, a two thirds affirmative vote shall be required.
ARTICLE VII: PROCEDURE
A. Robert’s Rules of Order
Robert's Rules of Order, last revised edition, shall govern procedure to the extent that they are consistent with these bylaws and those of other bodies with which this Club may join. Consensus will be attempted at all meetings.
Members are expected to treat one another with respect and maintain civility during our Club’s meetings. Every member shall have the right to expect that club meetings and functions shall be safe environments.
No Member shall make disparaging remarks about any other member in a public forum or meeting of this Club based on a Member’s status, identity, age, class, ethnicity, race, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, national origin, or religion.
No Member of the club shall destroy club property.
No Member shall threaten or carry out threats of bodily harm; harass members at a Member's home, workplace, in a public forum, or through excessive voicemail or email contact; or threaten, embezzle, or extort club finances.
C. Violations of Civility
If any Member violates the aforementioned provisions, any other Member may file a complaint against that person with the Executive Board, which shall then make recommendations to the Membership. If a violation of civility is alleged, the President or Co-Presidents shall notify the Member against whom the complaint is charged. That person shall be provided five days to respond to the allegations in writing. If a response is received, or else after the provided number of days to respond have passed, the Executive Board shall appoint a subcommittee to consider the evidence concerning the allegations and shall report back to the Executive Board their findings of fact. If the Executive Board finds that the charges against the member are valid, it may recommend no action, probation, censure, or expulsion, in that order, according to the severity of the charge and whether similar conduct by the Member has occurred in the past. This recommendation shall be taken up by the General Membership and voted upon at the next general meeting of the Club following notice. The recommendation of the Executive Board shall require a vote by two-thirds of the Members present to be sustained.
ARTICLE VIII: ENDORSEMENTS
A. Rules and Process
No candidate for public or party office, or ballot proposition, shall receive an endorsement from the Club unless the Membership has been notified as specified in Article VI, Section E. In order for a candidate to be endorsed, the person must receive a sum score of at least 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, which shall be determined by multiplying the total number of ballots cast by five. In order for a proposition to be endorsed yes, no, or no recommendation, a position must receive at least 60% of the ballots cast.
Single-Seat, Single-Choice Races:
For all single-seat, single-choice races (such as President, Senator, Congressperson, Governor and other statewide offices, State Senate, and State Assembly), all eligible candidates will appear on one ballot and voting members may score as many candidates as they desire by ranking any or all of the eligible candidates on a scale ranging from zero to five. All of the ballots will be counted, and that number will be multiplied by the maximum ranking of five, resulting in a maximum ballot score. Then each candidate will have his or her individual rankings summed.
If no candidate receives a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, then no candidate will be endorsed. If only one candidate receives a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, then that candidate will be endorsed. If more than one candidate receives a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, then the candidate with the highest score wins the endorsement. In the case of a tie, the Executive Board is empowered to hold an emergency runoff in order for the Membership to determine one winner.
Single-Seat, Multi-Choice Races:
For all single-seat, multi-choice races with more than one candidate (such as Mayor, District Attorney, City Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer, Assessor-Recorder, and Supervisor), all eligible candidates will appear on one ballot and voting members may score as many candidates as they desire.
If no candidate receives a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, then no candidate will be endorsed. If only one candidate receives a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score, then that candidate will be endorsed. If a second candidate receives 50% + 1 or more but fewer votes than the first-place candidate, then that candidate will receive a second-place endorsement. If a third candidate receives 50% + 1 or more but fewer votes than the second-place candidate, then that candidate will receive a third-place endorsement. (And so on, if the City’s Department of Election allows for more than three ranked-choice options on its official ballot.) In the case of a tie, the Executive Board is empowered to hold an emergency runoff in order for the Membership to determine a winner. The Club shall not endorse more candidates than allowable.
Multi-Seat, Multi-Choice Races:
For all multi-seat, multi-choice races (such as Board of Education, Community College Board, and San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee), all eligible candidates will appear on one ballot and voting members may score as many candidates as they desire.
Any candidate must receive a sum equivalent to or greater than 50% + 1 of the maximum ballot score to be endorsed. If the number of endorsed candidates exceeds the number of seats available, then the candidate or candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated. In the case of a tie for last place, the Executive Board is empowered to hold an emergency runoff in order for the Membership to determine a last-place winner. The Club shall not endorse more candidates than seats available.
The Membership must vote in the affirmative by at least a 60% supermajority for the endorsement of a yes, a no, or a no recommendation vote to become official. If no position receives the sufficient number of votes for an endorsement, then the Club’s official recommendation on such a ballot measure will be no position.
This methodology shall be used for endorsing in the P.A.C. as well as in the general endorsement meetings.
C. Endorsed Candidates
Candidates endorsed by the Club are expected to:
Use the name of the Harvey Milk Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender /Queer Democratic Club and to include it with all candidate literature which lists organizational endorsements.
Refrain from giving financial support to slate cards or other campaign materials that endorse propositions seeking to deny rights to any person on the basis of age, class, ethnicity, race, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, national origin, or religion; or that oppose propositions seeking to secure basic rights for such groups. Candidates endorsed by the Club shall be reminded that the Club is a Democratic Club and that candidates are expected to refrain from giving financial support to any slate cards or other campaign materials that are produced or distributed by the Republican Party or Republican organizations.
Refrain from taking public positions in favor of legislation or policies that deny rights to any person on the basis of age, class, ethnicity, race, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, national origin, or religion; or that oppose propositions seeking to secure basic rights for such groups. A list of such legislation and policies shall be compiled by the P.A.C. and approved by the Club for distribution to candidates.
Refrain from hiring campaign consultants known to have worked on campaigns that have used tactics appealing to prejudice against any person on the basis of age, class, ethnicity, race, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, national origin, or religion. A list of such consultants shall be compiled by the P.A.C. and approved by the Club for distribution to candidates.
And refrain from engaging in tactics appealing to prejudice against any person on the basis of age, class, ethnicity, race, disability, gender identity, sexual identity, national origin, or religion.
Candidates who have violated Article VIII, Section C. during a period of five years prior to the endorsement vote for the next election shall be ineligible for the Club's endorsement for that election. If a violation of Article VIII, Section B. is alleged after the Club has endorsed a candidate, the President or Co-Presidents shall notify the candidate, providing that person twenty-four hours to respond to the allegations in writing. If no response is received within twenty-four hours, the elected officers shall determine, by a majority vote, whether a violation of these provisions exists. If it is determined that a candidate has violated these provisions, the endorsement shall be withdrawn, and that candidate shall be ineligible to receive our endorsement for a period of five years. All candidates who receive the Club's endorsement shall be notified of these provisions.
Candidate or proposition campaigns may not use the Club's name in any manner (i.e. “received most votes”) unless they have received the Club's endorsement. If a candidate, having been apprised of this provision, violates it, he or she shall be ineligible to receive the Club's endorsement the next time he or she runs for public office. All candidates who receive our endorsement shall be notified of this provision.
E. Selection of Representatives at California Democratic Party Pre-Endorsement Conferences
The Board of this Club shall choose representatives for the California Democratic Party pre-endorsement conferences. In order to vote, a chosen representative must be a registered Democrat and a member in “good standing” who officially resides in the appropriate State Assembly, State Senate, and/or Congressional District.
ARTICLE IX: AMENDMENTS
Any Member may move a bylaw amendment at any regular membership meeting. If a motion to amend is seconded, and a majority of the Membership votes in agreement, then the Membership shall be notified as provided in Article VI, Section D. At the subsequent meeting to consider adoption, the proposed amendment must receive a two-thirds affirmative vote of Members voting in order to be incorporated into these bylaws.