Bil Browning

HRC National Dinner w/ President Obama, Judy Shepard, Lady Gaga and the cast of Glee

Filed By Bil Browning | October 10, 2009 7:10 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Corey Monteith, Glee, HRC National Dinner, Judy Shepard, Lady Gaga, LGBT rights, President Obama

Things here are still a little hairy as people are getting moved around and put in place. Somehow I've ended up on the camera risers even though I'm liveblogging. Jerame's here too, but it's where he's supposed to be. I'm not going to complain though - I'm a heckuva lot closer!

b5l.jpgSo far we've been swept by the Secret Service and issued our credentials. Then they led us into a small hot room where we could photograph a few of the performers before the event. They didn't allow any questions of the talent, but since Jerame and I ran into Corey Monteith, the hot lead from the cast of Glee, while he was shopping today, he stopped and chatted with us a bit. (He managed to find that shoe polish he was looking for, by the way.)

Not only is he amazingly hot, but he's also very down-to-earth and friendly. He filmed a special shout-out to Projectors just for us while the rest of the press looked on enviously and filmed him giving you guys a holler. We'll have the video up soon.

Actual liveblog is after the jump. Join in and comment all you want. You can ask questions and I'll answer.


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I was certainly impressed that Obama came at all, and in one speech Obama said more in support of our rights than any other sitting president in history ever did over their entire tenure.

That said, here is why the speech was problematic:
1. He did not mention Maine, Washington nor Kalamazoo. I can understand NOT mentioning Kalamazoo, because it could cause backlash--no such potential for backlash over Marriage/Domestic Partnership fight.
2. He did not make any new revelations. We've already heard these positions. This was an opportunity to sway us back into his camp. We certainly appreciates that he likes us, but its not just about liking us, its about delivering. After LGBT donors, volunteers and staffers played a significant role in his being elected president, we need something tangible.

This could have immediately improved the speech:
1. He could have mentioned Maine or Washington.
2. He could have signed the order for the lift of the travel ban there, or announced a date that the lift will take effect.
3. He could have announced that he was lifting the military ban with an executive order.
4. He could have said--"OK! You convinced me. I want to sign all of THESE bills (name them). Now g make sure they make it to my desk." and then called for LGBT people everywhere to engage with their lawmakers to take action on the bills, coupled with a call to lawmakers to get the bills passed quickly.
5. He SHOULD have called on the progressive community to unite with the LGBT community and their allies and commit to making LGBT rights a priority in the greater progressive agenda, and not rest until Equality is real.
Ultimately, 1, 2 and 5 are the ones I really was looking for. LGBT rights are always an afterthought in the progressive agenda, though LGBT people work very hard on other progressive movements. Change.org was the first inclusive, multi-issue Progressive Project I ever saw that made LGBT rights one of its major focuses (Move On, True Majority both adopted wide reaching progressive slates that all but ignored LGBT discrimination and rights struggles)

If the progressive community gave LGBT Equality half the attention they give to anti-war pushes, we'd have an ENDA and DOMA repeal this year. Agreement and passive support is not enough. A straight friend of mine was railing about how terrible and horrible Prop 8 was, and I asked him how much he sent to the No On 8 campaign. None. Meanwhile, he sent the Obama campaign, as well as programs like Move On's program hundreds of dollars that year. We need progressives to sign on to support LGBT Equality like they support anything--with voices, bodies AND wallets!

6. He said " bisexual and transgender" only once, and "gender identity" only once. The rest was "gay and lesbian," or the dreaded "gay community."

We are all in this together, ALL OF US. So, even the President doesn't get a pass when it comes to saying just "gay and lesbian." Executive privileges don't mean crap here. It was not acceptable.

flo goodman | October 11, 2009 3:23 AM

Some words from at least 'one' member of the 'progressive community': a long-in-the-tooth, straight-because-I-just-happened-to-be-born-that-way, utterly unknown except for my Myspace blogs, typical activist woman who worked for African-American civil rights since I was 13 years old, and who was in the streets- as well as a jail cell - protesting the Vietnam War.

Some of us put our money where our mouths are; some of us consider GLBTQ Rights THE civil rights movement of our time: and contribute most of our (when not at work) time, energy, voices, and what modest money we have ONLY to organizations that seriously address the obscene situation that - by all that is sane, decent, and just - should not be an issue at all.

I donate regularly to No on 1/Maine Equality (through ActBlue), Iowa One, the ACLU, Lambda Legal, The Gay and Lesbian Task Force, People For The American Way, HRC (for better or worse), PFLAG, The Empire State Pride Agenda, and maybe a few I've missed.
(Well, American Atheists and Citymeals-On-Wheels get a few of my bucks too.)

I am moderately active (work schedule interferes too often) in a New York-based activist group, The Civil Rights Front, that meets at the LGBT Center in New York. My congresspeople are sick of my emails; though I am fortunate to live where ALL my representatives, local and national, are supporters.

I'm not the mother of a gay or lesbian child; I'm not a mother at at all by choice.
The indignities heaped upon dear friends, the loss of a high school buddy to AIDS in the 80's, and a lifetime of civil rights activism finds me here: bitching and screaming virtually and 3-D 24/7.

And I am not at the March For Equality this weekend only because my father had high-risk open-heart surgery on September 17, developed pneumonia, has been in CICU ever since; and all the damn vacation days I had set aside for driving down to D.C. were used up going to the hospital daily.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that President Obama's preternatural eloquence moved me to tears; even while knowing cynically all too well that it was same old/same old from him to us.
(Sorry: you see; I think of this movement as 'us'.)

On the other hand, as you say, Bil, who the f**k else in anywhere near so powerful a position stuck his neck out to at least 'address' (and presumably 'sincerely' - if politics weren't more important, sigh) the right things?

If it's all gorgeous words; and I know it is very possible, he will have earned the boiling over of the enmity that has simmered under my skin since Rick Warren.
I already stopped donating to the Democratic Party since that fiasco and some of the other crap, and I tell them exactly WHY each time they put their hand out, online and by phone.

So, nice to meet you, Bil; after trolling all these months: a straight progressive taking up a lot of space, LOL.
Enjoy the weekend and raise hell.


Great post, Phil.
I just watched the speech online. There is clearly something intense that happens among Americans when the CinC is present - it really is a bit like royalty (although I'm decidedly NOT a monarchist!). Folks leaping up on their chairs to cheer what was - as you pointed out - a replay of his White House Stonewall speech. Maybe the time is passing when it's enough for him to just show up.

Have a great day today!! I hope you, Bil & everyone post lots about the workshops as well as the march and speeches.


I would love for Obama to help in Maine or in any other state where the marriage issue arises, but do not expect this. He has taken the political position that this is a state by state issue, and I do not see him moving on this. What we can work for though is a repeal of DOMA, so that married same sex couples can claim their federal rights.

Last week, the New York Times ran the story about the additional costs of being gay, or in reality,the costs of not being in a straight marriage, if you are a couple. Social Security survivor benefits are high in the financial costs to gays. Repeal of DOMA is important.

I did not like Barney Frank "pooping on the parade" but he is right to say that we need to work on our congressional reps individually. (Of course, here in DC we have not voting reps in the House or the Senate, but this is another cause for freedom to be fought).

It was thrilling to see the President of the USA in person at the HRC gala. There also was a powerful energy in the air in such a large gathering of the LGBTQ community. This positive energy is much needed for the many and long battles ahead.