Rev Irene Monroe

Obama's upcoming hush-hush damage control meeting with LGBTQ leaders

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | June 23, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, DNC, DOJ, jonathan capehart, LGBT, Michelle Obama

The President has been an Obama-nation on LGBTQ issues since he's taken office.

The political carrots Obama dangled before us as campaign promises are now looking like merely empty rhetoric that was used to court our votes and to collect our campaign dollars.

But with a 74 percent disapproval rating the President now has with us according to the recent Washington Blade web poll that asked the question "Is Obama moving fast enough on LGBT issues?," and with many LGBTQ Democrats, especially those with deep pockets, boycotting the June 25th DNC fundraiser in D.C. that would fill the party's coffers with queer dollars, the Justice Department decided to have a conversation with us.

And in their effort to thwart off both a huge political and financial loss to him and the party, the DOJ is conducting a hush-hush damage control meeting with the nation's top LGBTQ heads of organizations on Monday June 29. In a written invitation from the White House it states the following:

The President and Mrs. Obama request the pleasure of your company and a reception to be held at the White House on Monday, June 29, 2009 at 3:30 p.m. Please respond at the Social Secretary of the White House at your earliest convenience giving your date of birth and social security number of your guest and yourself.

The purpose of the gathering is to ask us what we want?

But the question appears not only disingenuous but also deceptively political given the glaring evidence of the president's conflicted and contradictory actions his administration has taken on key LGBTQ policies this month.

Let's start with June 1.

On June 1 Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation in honor of Pride Month, stating,


Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

On June 4 Jonathan Capehart, an African American gay journalist at the Washington Post wrote an op-ed "Okay, Obama. Now Let's Have a Speech on Gay Rights," stating:

After last night's airing of NBC's Inside the Obama White House interview, in which Obama provided a tepid answer to a question about whether "gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry in this country have a friend in the White House," the blogosphere is filling with cries of "shameful" and "no passion, no heart, no real connection to our cause.

On June 8 the Supreme Court agreed with the Obama administration in refusing to review the Pentagon policy that prohibits LGBTQ servicemembers to serve openly in the military. To add salt to an already open wound for our LGBTQ servicemembers, Obama's administration stated in the court papers that the ruling on DADT was correct because of the military's legitimate concern of LGBTQ servicemembers endangering "unit cohesion" in spite of the 2002 study "A Modest Proposal: Privacy as a Flawed Rationale for the Exclusion of Gays and Lesbians from the U.S. Military," that proved otherwise. On June 12 the LGBTQ community got another blow: Obama defend (DOMA), a law that prevent couples in the states that recognize same-sex marriage from securing Social Security spousal benefits, filing joint taxes and other federal rights of marriage. His reasons: DOMA is not a valid exercise of Congress's power, and it is not consistent with Equal Protection or Due Process principles, and it would infringe on the rights of taxpayers in states that fundamentally oppose same-sex marriage. During the evening of June 12 Campbell Brown of CNN sensing the tension in the LGBTQ community had a segment asking the question "Is President Obama Selling Out the Gay Community?" Dan Savage, a nationally syndicated gay columnist gave his response.

I'm sick of hearing about the president's commitment. I want to see action from the White House.... The president has sold us out in California today. He filed a brief and a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act that is so insanely bigoted that the HRC, Human Rights Campaign, which is the most mainstream middle of the road gay group, called it false and damaging legal arguments. People are incensed.

On June 17 Obama extends some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employers, but leaves couples without federal and health benefits. No one is sure what these few benefits the President has doled out to our community will mean as long as DOMA isn't repeal.

Gay writer and radio host Michelangelo Signorile wrote on his blog, "[T]he Obama administration is throwing us a pathetic bone: benefits for federal workers. Wow. Give me a break!"

And on June 19 invitations went out to major LGBTQ organizations for us to come talk with the President. The talk will be followed by gala reception to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Is the President playing us stupid? It will take more than lip-service and a party for us to believe we got a friend in the White House.

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David Phillips | June 23, 2009 6:24 PM

Crap! Now I need to shuffle my personal Gay Agenda for Monday, so I can sashay on the pedestrian plaza in front of Obama's crib that afternoon carrying signs and chanting "WE'RE HERE! WE'RE QUEER! WE GOT YOU INTO OFFICE....biotch!" "Two. Four. Six. Eight. Change we haven't see to-date!"

I agree that Obama's support for LGBT rights has been tepid at best. I think it is important to remember, though, that he is not the enemy. (And I don't think you're saying that, but I've seen others who are less restrained.) Despite his lassitude, we've still gained more from him in six months than we did from Bush in eight years. It is not enough, but it is more than we have had. The question, I think, is how to educate him and get him to take further action--real action that makes a difference. How do we get him to see the error of his ways, but not alienate him in the process? Open question.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 24, 2009 1:24 AM

I believe he personally "gets it" but is being stage managed and distracted from it. The stupidity and insensitivity of the Justice Department is amazing. "Change" needs to happen in the first year because afterward all the House will be running scared (yet again) for reelection and "them folks back home" might not like it.

Dana Rudolph said, "I agree that Obama's support for LGBT rights has been tepid at best. I think it is important to remember, though, that he is not the enemy."

Obama may not be the enemy yet, but he is certainly making a fierce effort to become the enemy.

I would be more willing to wait if it were not for Obama's aggressive campaign to put gays in their place and slap them around.

Perhaps, you could answer a question. Is Obama throwing gays to the curb at every opportunity because he's a sadist, a bigot, or because he wants to be steppin-fetchit for right-wing hate mongers like Rick Warren?

You can't really claim that he "get's it" but is unwilling to act unless you are willing to claim he is a moral-coward with no integrity, leadership, or courage -- which is even worse than my negative comments about him.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 24, 2009 6:24 AM

Those things a president can do he or she can do. Other things require an act of congress. We have not even seated a ninth supreme court justice yet. The "Oh why can't we multi task?" argument does not quite seem compelling enough if you look at the daily news. The Justice Department was incredibly stupid and we have waited long enough, the boycott of the DNC "gay" fundraiser is already a fact and the oft decried "A list" Gays (who I am glad are there) will have a great responsibility to be anything other than nice lapdogs at the White House.

Have you ever played chess?

beachcomberT | June 24, 2009 9:45 AM

I hope someone blogs the invitation list so we can find out who the insiders are. Hopefully, they will use their private facetime with O and Mrs. O to get something going on DOMA repeal, DADT repeal, ENDA (which logically should repeal DADT but will probably be filled with loopholes), etc. etc. Apologists will say "Oh, his hands are tied by Congress." Just how huge a majority do the Democrats need before they will vote in favor of equality?

I agree with Dana; Obama is most certainly not the enemy. We should be all means make our frustration heard, but not to the point of demonizing a president who is more on our side than any of the other 43 have ever been. To me, even empty gestures seem impressive when you realize that no other president has gone so far in acknowledging our existence.

These things take time, and they do require the support and action of Congress. If we're to demonize anyone, I'm inclined to put the blame on Harry Reid and other Senate leaders, who have shown absolutely no interest in pushing anti-DOMA, anti-DADT, and ENDA legislation.

This may be a slightly off topic question but doesn't Domino's Pizza's owner support anti GLBT stuff?

Because in the horizontal banner ad partway down this article I'm seeing an advert for Domino's 'the Aussie pizza'.

If Domino's are no longer bad-guys I'd be happy to har that as I've not had their pizza locally since I heard they funded anti GLBT legal stuff and I liked their pizzas better than the alternatives in town.

If on the other hand they still are funding anti GLBT stuff then why is there ad on here and can anything be done to get rid of it?

I agree with what Dana said, and the answer to her question, IMHO, is: work on Congress. We've gotten as far as Obama can take us on his own (except for suspending DADT dismissals). Everything else we want will have to come through Congress, and Obama's not going to push for it. That's OK, we're strong enough to get it thru on our own. w00t! queer power! They can't keep us down!

Obama won't suspend DADT under a stop loss order because he is a bigot who doesn't believe in equal rights for all people. Or, he is a coward with no leadership ability. You choose.

Please note, that his federal benefits memo will not continue to be in force when he is voted out of office in 2012. Yet that is the excuse he uses for not issuing a stop-loss order.

So, why the contradiction?

He did the memo because he didn't want self-loathing homos to stop funding the Do Nothing Committee (DNC).