An Identity Caucus is a colloquial term for one of the "caucuses of underrepresented groups" affiliated with the Green Party of the United States. These caucuses are designed as formal vehicles for ensuring that the concerns of members of historically underrepresented groups are heard by the Green Party's national organization.
As of January 2006, the National Lavender Greens Caucus, the National Women's Caucus, and the Black Caucus had all been formally recognized by the national Green Party. Other caucuses were in the process of formation, including the Latino Caucus, the Disabled Greens Caucus, the Rural Greens Caucus and the Youth Caucus. Formal accreditation of a caucus gives it a status equivalent to that of an accredited state party, except that each state party has two or more votes on the National Committee, while each caucus has only one.
Caucuses of underrepresented groups were specified as organizational units of the national Green Party as a result of the passage of the Boston Proposal by the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) at its annual national meeting, held in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2001. The ASGP was a predecessor organization to the current national Green Party of the United States, and the Boston Proposal was intended to facilitate a merger between the ASGP and the Greens/Green Party USA (G/GPUSA), a "rival" national organization.
One of the most controversial features of the Boston Proposal among ASGP members was the creation of caucuses. Many members of the G/GPUSA felt that the ASGP was insufficiently sensitive to the concerns of historically underrepresented groups and wanted to ensure that the merged organization would have formal structures in place - as the G/GPUSA did – to ensure that issues and concerns of importance to these groups would be heard and addressed.
Many ASGP members, on the other hand, contended that the creation of Identity Caucuses gave the individuals participating in them "double" representation (through their state party membership and through their identity caucus membership) and threatened the geographic nature of the party's organizational structure (because an unlimited number of such groups could potentially be created).
Although the Boston Proposal was ultimately rejected by the G/GPUSA at its Carbondale Congress, the ASGP decided to honor the terms of the agreement anyway (partially as a result of the exodus of a large number of G/GPUSA members into the Green Party of the United States, many of whom formed The Green Alliance).
Bylaws amendments implementing the basic framework for accrediting caucuses were adopted by the ASGP in Santa Barbara, and a more specific accreditation procedure was incorporated in 2004.
The bylaws give the National Committee the authority to determine whether the term "underrepresented group" can be applied to a group seeking accreditation, potentially addressing the concern that a very large number of caucuses could be formed. If groups such as the Rural Greens, the Secular Greens, and the Poly Greens seek accreditation in the future, this provision will be tested.