Speaking in front of a small group of LGBT community leaders and allies Sept. 13, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky preached on one point, solidarity. Minutes later, Schakowsky's legislative colleague, Rep. Mike Quigley, echoed her words.
"We don't want to be in the minority," said Quigley. "You don't have to look far to see a Democratic candidate that needs help. We need to work together to help stay on course for LGBT rights in Illinois and America."
It was a message in stark contrast to the air of optimism that resonated from the Democratic base just two years ago. However, 24 months, a growing right-wing movement and a bad economy later, and the swagger that bound the Democratic Party in 2008 has all but dissipated.
So, at the Jenner and Block Law Offices, a Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) -sponsored community discussion featuring both Schakowsky and Quigley might have seemed more like a strategy session from 2004 than a buoyant 2008 Democratic Pride event.
Attendees at the discussion, however, stressed that in spite of waffling optimism within the party Democrats have not lost the Senate or House quite yet.
"Personally, I think there are a lot of major LGBT issues under discussion in Congress right now," said Howard Suskin, a partner at Jenner and Block. "So that's why I think you see organizations such as the HRC effectively mobilizing groups of people to keep fighting for these causes."
Around 50 people attended the event, which sought to recruit more community organizers as well as rally current leaders to the Democratic cause.
It is unclear if another HRC-sponsored community discussion will be held before Election Day, Nov. 2. For more information on the HRC visit www.hrc.org .