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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Weiser

Rhode Island Democratic Party Denies Democracy to the Women’s Caucus

Once again, the state Democratic party is trying to deny Democracy to The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus--this time quite literally.

Recently, the state “Democratic” party sent a letter to The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus, challenging the Caucus’s right to call itself Democratic. The state party claims this is to “avoid confusion” regarding the Women’s Caucus’s affiliation with the state party, and instructs the Caucus to “cease using the word Democratic in your title, and in all communications.” The Women’s Caucus has been in existence for almost two years now, since November 2019, without the party having raised this issue. There is no valid reason for the state party to do this now. This attack on our identity shows their continued contempt for our members, an active group of women and allies who are proud to call ourselves Democrats.

The letter, sent by Senior Advisor to the Rhode Island Democratic Party Kate Coyne-McCoy, goes on to cite a section of the Rhode Island law, 17-23-7, which limits the use of the word “republican” or “democrat” in clubs or associations.

According to this provision, “Every member and every officer of any club, society, or association, whether incorporated or not, violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor.” To that end, we’d like to alert over 20 members of the Rhode Island legislature, our congressional delegation, as well several Rhode Island Democratic Party Executive Committee members who are some of the over 600 members of The Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus of this threat.

Given this concern over confusion and legal use of the word “democrat” or “democratic,” we look forward to seeing the renaming of several other organizations and PACs also not officially headed by the Rhode Island Democratic Party, including:

Fund for Democratic Leadership

RI Senate Democrats PAC

Democratic Governors Association RI

The 7th Senatorial Democratic Club

The Barrington Democratic Club

Silver Lake Democratic Club

The North End Democratic Club

The 15th Ward Democratic Club

However, we highly suspect these other organizations were not sent similar letters. It is disappointing, yet not surprising, to see this continued pattern of abuse and bullying towards women from the state party. This latest incident showcases exactly why the Caucus had to separate from the party back in 2019. After endorsing a Trump supporter over a sitting female Democratic representative, kicking our group out of party headquarters, denying VAN to female candidates, and ramming through bylaws intended to suppress us and deny our voice, the pattern of needless antagonism continues.

“The Rhode Island Democratic Party should not be afraid of the Democratic women of Rhode Island,” says chair Samantha Weiser.

In a time when small-d democracy is threatened by a Republican party that continues to support a former president who instigated an insurrection against the United States, we should expect our own state’s Democratic Party to fight for Democratic values, not send pointless letters attempting to further sow disunity among its own party members.

We call on the state party to retract its letter, to focus on electing Democrats who will fight hard for Democratic Party values, and to work with all members of the Democratic Party to protect and preserve our democracy.

Democratic women and our allies are always welcome to join the Women’s Caucus to help us promote and protect Democratic Party values, and democracy itself.

To help support us, please donate and join our ranks.

Click here to read the original letter. Note, we are confused about why the second page was sent to us, but we have included it for full context of our communications.

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