It seems the silence from the Obama Administration might be coming to end. Maybe. Well, at least they're being forced to respond.
After the increasing outrage from all sides in the LGBT community over not leading on ENDA, DADT, Hate Crimes Legislation, and the horrific hate brief defending DOMA, it seems the message might be sinking in with the administration. They have announced they will offer some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees and there are rumblings of new movement on hate crimes legislation and a fully-inclusive ENDA.
It's a whisper response to a scream of discontent.
What brought about this sudden "enlightenment"? Is it just the start of a plan that has been in place all along? I don't think so.
The administration saw we were starting to talk in the Washington language they understand: Money and Media.
The equality-minded, pollyanna side of me would love to think that the justice of our cause has changed the hearts and mind of political leaders.
I think we all know that's not how it works.
We began to really speak in a clear language they can understand. Word started to come out that major money-givers were dropping out of a big fundraiser over the offensive DOMA defense and the general inaction of the administration. Individuals were answering fundraising emails from the Democrats with "not on your life."
The purse strings and support for the Obama Administration and Democrats began to disappear. They saw the reliable voting and money-giving block slipping away and realized they had to do something to stop the hemorrhaging.
The second punch came as the media started to really pick up on the anger in the community. From blogs to social networking to the 24 hour News Networks, the story took hold and gained steam. For an administration that prides itself on media prowess and spin, they seemed to begin to panic as they saw themselves losing control of the story. They've begun to scramble, throwing together this "benefits memorandum", to try and change the story. They may have finally realized how far behind the curve the are.
In other words, we were hitting them were it hurts.
I think loud criticism and flexing the muscles of a community are necessary to make any movement on minority issues. We have to drag our leaders in the right direction and make sure our concerns are heard and responded to. The louder we speak, the more they will listen. It takes voices coming from all directions, using whatever means they have- whether it be withdrawing financial support, lobbying lawmakers, or just adding their voice to the growing chorus of dissatisfaction.
I hope we continue to stay fluent in this Washington D.C. power language. We have an uphill battle and only by keeping the pressure on can we reach any of our goals.
Because they obviously won't do it just because it's the right thing to do.