John Shields

Obama Signs Landmark Action to Extend Gay Rights

Filed By John Shields | June 18, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Media, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, hate crimes against LGBT people, marriage, pelosi, reid, Washington

Breaking News: WASHINGTON, D.C.

At an unprecedented early morning briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert L. Gibbs, outlined the Obama administration's rationale behind the low-key June 17th rollout of the "Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination, and Support of the Lieberman-Baldwin Benefits Legislation," and provided information on the administration's plans for the next steps to address the broader issues of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer communities.

Media representatives were summoned for the 5:00 AM meeting. Gibbs proceeded to work damage control on the administration's handling of LGBTQ issues.

Ladies and gentlemen, announced a confident and articulate Gibbs, let me begin by thanking all of you for coming in so early. The President is concerned about the reaction to yesterday's Presidential Memorandum. There is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion related to both the form and content of yesterday's Presidential action.

Gibbs then outlined three traditional types of actions a President can issue that do not require legislation or Congressional approval. They are (in ascending order of importance) Proclamations, Presidential Memoranda, and Executive Orders.

Proclamations, said Gibbs, are just a bunch of words intended to make the citizenry happy about something. Say for example, 'National Satire Week,' - which coincidentally is June 14 through 20, 2009.

Proclamations don't really mean anything or commit the government to any course of action. They just put words into the public realm for consumption by the media. Everybody likes them.

Executive Orders are very serious administrative instruments used by a President, Gibbs explained. These are standing orders that hold sway from administration to administration, until they are countermanded by another sitting President.

"We're very careful about how we use these babies," said Gibbs ~ now swaggering behind the podium. "Executive Orders are 'end-runs,' 'Hail Mary passes,' or I guess more appropriate for this President - a three-point shot with just seconds left on the clock! Executive Orders are intended to bypass popular or even unpopular legislation. Hey look, Executive Orders can be real controversial and can hurt the popularity of a President. We're not ready to go that route. No sir."

"We decided on the Presidential Memorandum because this form of action is actually written to somebody. You know, 'To,' 'From,' 'Re,' and all that stuff. You get them all the time. They tell you to do something."

"In this case, the President sincerely wanted to make sure that no federal employee experienced the kind of humiliation that Michael Guest suffered during his tenure with the State Department," Gibbs said. "When Ambassador Guest was required to move overseas, relocation expenses for his same-sex partner were not covered. The resources traditionally extended to spouses of members of the Foreign Service were not made available to Ambassador Guest's partner."

"He did not receive benefits and was snubbed at social functions," exclaimed a highly animated Gibbs. "I don't know what you media people and the LGBTQ community want from us! We're trying to do some good here and it all has to do with relocating gays."

This reporter and others among the sleep-deprived press corps looked at one another in astonishment. Was the White House Press Secretary finally coming totally unhinged? Gibbs has had his gaffes in the past, but nothing quite as animated as this one. Just when we thought we were witnessing a meltdown, the Press Secretary regained his composure and forged ahead with a reassuring calm and steadfast voice.

Last night," Gibbs continued, Last night the President made us pull an all-nighter. Don't worry, he was there too. We knew that we needed to do something better, something that would be more acceptable to all Americans, and something that could put a better spin on things. I mean, Cheney is getting better press on this than us? I don't think so.

We worked long into the early morning hours, sipping a few beers here and there while brainstorming the issue when I think it was Rahm Emanuel who made the suggestion first. Of course it was Rahm! He's the one who always chants the mantra, 'Never let a crisis go to waste.'

Rahm noted that we were at the convergence of several critical issues. First we needed a new tool for Presidential action. Proclamations, Memoranda, and Executive Orders are all too limiting.

That is when he introduced the idea of the 'Presidential Cocktail Napkin Directive.'

"We had several such blank instruments sitting before us (OK, some had little rings on them from the bottom of our glasses, but who'd notice?) and Rahm assured us that whatever we wrote on this venerable document, if it bore the signature of the President, could become the law of the land, or something like that," Gibbs said.

Now this reporter is not usually inclined to engage in meta-journalism, but it is important to convey the reaction of the press at this point in time. Journalists were sitting on the edge of their seats. The correspondent from the New York Times froze in place, the publisher of the Washington Blade let out an audible gasp, and the editor of The Advocate nearly fell out of his seat.

Keyboard chatter halted, pencils etching their notes became immobilized, and it seemed the flashes of cameras were momentarily suspended. We all realized we were on the verge of an important, nay, a historic announcement! Not only would the President make history, but we would be part of that history!

Gibbs sensed the tension in the room. He spoke slowly with ascending volume and projection. "Rahm boiled the problem down to essentials. He told the President that the root problem was 'relocation'. If we could solve relocation, then we could solve all of our problems at once."

Gibbs announced that the break through came when Rahm convinced everyone that, "the detainees at Guantanamo and members of the LGBTQ community share something in common: Everyone just wishes they'd go away."

So in the early hours of June 18th, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the first ever Presidential Cocktail Napkin Directive: "Relocating all Gay Employees of the Federal Government, their Partners, and Friends to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base."

GITmoGay, as it is now being referred to, will offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits and all of the legal rights typically extended to married couples.

GITmoGay will also adopt the "Ask and Tell" policy that will enable members of the armed forces to serve openly in this island paradise.

And, while all of this good fortune may seem unbelievable, several highly-placed White House sources have confirmed that the President will soon issue a second Presidential Cocktail Napkin Directive, on the topic of hate crimes.

Currently, LGBTQ rights activists are expressing astonishment at the White House action.

Caught off guard by this unprecedented act of civic generosity to a disenfranchised group, many activists are expressing a sense of relief, thanks and joy. "At last we'll have a homeland of our own," is commonly heard from the leadership of the LGBTQ community.

By mid-morning, a host of developers, avant garde architects, and interior decorators were converging on the Naval Base to assess the situation and to spruce things up in advance of the arrival of the gay glitterati.

Look there's an airport, several nice beaches, lots of waterfront property, and we'll just plant some nice vines on those nasty old fences to make it all look just marvelous, said one of the entrepreneurs combing the base for opportunities.

Indeed GITmoGay will be an island paradise, and with hurricane season rapidly approaching Martha Wash has predicted the weather at GITmoGay will be 'Raining Men.'

This reporter contacted Guantanamo's base commander, Col. Nathan R. Jessep, USMC, and asked him for a comment on the idea of Gitmo going gay. The only response we received from him was, "You can't handle the truth!"

Satarize and Homosexualize That~! My husband just did...

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Landmark? Granting coverage for U-Haul costs for the domestic partners of Federal Employees is a "landmark" action?

My God, I didn't realise the importance of this.

We need to immortalise the moment with a new distinction for our fierce advocates:

"The Rental Truck Equality Arard"

Rick Sours | June 18, 2009 10:28 AM

Federal employees got nothing from President Obama. Since 1994, individuals in the federal government have been able to take sick leave
to care for their Partners. Why doesn't the openly Gay head of OPM know this?

For details, read this:

In addition, federal employees pay for their long term care from a private company at the same rate as if they went to
the company directly.

By the way, Mr Shields--wonderful satire :)

Today we were having lunch, my son was making a sandwich, my wife was having thai and I was having sushi. My dog was standing there looking at us all with that hopeful look that can only be on the face of a dog under a table. My wife got a dog treat and gave it to him instead of what any of us were having.
The dog, Toby, looked at her with amazement that we all had something cool and he got a milk bone. He looked at me like A**hole you got sushi and I'm getting the same old liver cookie.
This kind makes me feel like that dog.

You know, when you take into account all the second dates lesbian civil servants get, the relocation provision is surprisingly more expensive than health care and retirement benefits would be.

I just getting in the spirit of National Satire Week!

John Shields John Shields | June 18, 2009 2:01 PM

It's International Satire Week. I "deemed" it...

Better than a memo, eh?

diddlygrl | June 18, 2009 2:07 PM

OH I love good satire, thank you for taking tongue firmly in cheek and letting fly.

Yes, we are really getting nothing out of this. It is just a bunch of wind and noise signifying nothing, meaning nothing. Why do people still believe Obama is some kind of knight in shining armor come to rescue us from the evil evangelic-serpent of intolerance.

Like that is going to happen. The only good thing that I have to say about Obama is, he isn't Bush.