Bil Browning

White House Hosts Briefing with Pride Reception Attendees

Filed By Bil Browning | June 29, 2011 2:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay rights, LGBT rights, White House press, White House reception

The Obama administration hosted a briefing for LGBT leaders who will be attending this afternoon's pride reception at the White House. About 75 people from around the nation attended the session at the Old Executive Office Building.brian-bond.jpg I was invited to attend as a reception attendee and not as press.

Several administration officials spoke to the group of activists and updated them on issues ranging from "Don't Ask Don't Tell" to LGBT housing initiatives. Interestingly enough, when Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality gave the introduction and listed off the administration's accomplishments, only the decision to stop defending DOMA received applause; during the question and answer portions following each speaker, however, marriage got short shrift as attendees asked about hate crimes, HIV/AIDS, mental health issues, and how the administration is promoting LGBT rights abroad.

I asked two questions of Matt Nosanchuk, the Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice. First I asked why there haven't been any prosecutions of LGBT hate crimes in the past two years since the law was passed. With many documented cases of arson, murder and assault continuing, why isn't the Department of Justice prosecuting any of these cases?

My second question came after the official Q&A portion was finished, but I caught Mr. Nosanchuk at the door to ask why the Washington Blade was reporting that the DOJ had just appealed a California bankruptcy judge's decision that DOMA is unconstitutional.

Both answers after the break.

Nosanchuk told the gathering of folks that there haven't been any hate crimes prosecutions because the Department of Justice wanted to make sure it had a complete case that would lead to a conviction for their first swing at bat. The department has been helping and training local and state law enforcement agencies on how to prosecute hate crimes, he said, and were hampered by a requirement that the crimes affect interstate commerce.

Personally, I was a little unsatisfied by that answer. My home state of Indiana doesn't have a statewide hate crimes law and even though crimes have been committed that authorities have deemed a hate crime, nothing can be done. The DOJ can't train law enforcement on how to handle this when there's no law to use in Indiana. Since the crime didn't involve interstate commerce, there was no federal intervention either. In effect, nothing was done to prosecute the hate crime. I wasn't allowed to have a follow up question because of time restraints or I'd have asked how the DOJ is helping states like Indiana.

In response to my question about the DOJ's appeal of the DOMA decision, he hastened to say that the Blade article was slightly skewed. The administration will not be defending DOMA, he said. Instead, the DOJ was required to file paperwork that would allow the House of Representatives to intervene since they have decided to defend DOMA. Nosanchuk was definite that the department would not be defending the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, but were obligated to continue complying with the law while it remains on the books.

All in all, the crowd at the briefing was engaged and asked thoughtful questions that stepped well outside of the usual marriage mantra. For an issue that seems to dominate the public conversation, privately these LGBT leaders from around the nation were more concerned with issues that had a more direct impact on their lives. After all, all politics is local.

Speaker List at LGBT Pride Month Policy Briefing

Nancy Sutley, Chair, Council on Environmental Quality

Brian Bond, Deputy Director, White House Office of Public Engagement

Don't Ask Don't Tell Update
Douglas B Wilson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Jeh C. Johnson, General Counsel, US Department of Defense

LGBT Health & HHS Intitiatives
Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary, Administration for Aging, US Department of Health and Human Services

US Department of Justice Update
Matt Nosanchuk, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, US Department of Justice

International LGBT Administration Efforts
David Pressman, Director for War Crimes and Atrocities, White House National Security Council

LGBT Housing Initiatives
John Trasvina, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy
Greg Millett, Senior Scientist and HHS/CDC Liaison to the Office of National AIDS Policy

Closing Remarks
Jon Carson, Director, White House Office of Public Engagement

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It's not 100% true that the Act has had no effect, there's been at least two convictions under it, as of last month: Frankie Maybee and Sean Popejoy of Arkansas in a race-based attack (running a car off the road) that injured five.

...And just to clarify, that it's taken this long to get only two convictions? Still appalling, doesn't change your argument one little bit.

Did anyone ask about ENDA or workplace rights in general, and if so, how did they dodge the question this time?

JamesSavik | June 29, 2011 8:21 PM

I predicted this. I said that in his first term that Nobama would be the biggest nothing for gay rights ever. Then he would show up looking for votes a year before his reelection.

Sorry chump. Remember all that time you wasted with a supermajority? We SURE do! You got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING accomplished that can't be undone in the next president's first hundred days. DADT happened in spite of you! You didn't even try to get ENDA done.

I'd vote for a dog before I'd vote for Obama again. At least a dog is loyal. I sincerely regret voting for George Soros's bitch.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 29, 2011 10:57 PM

Really, who cares what Obama says or thinks or if he evolves or not. It's just not important. What really matters are the opinions of a whole generation of young GLBT militants and activists, radicalized by the Obama generated defeats of same sex marriage in 2008 in California, Florida and Arizona who took to the streets in nationwide demonstrations that peaked with the 2009 200,000 strong March on Washington. That March was bitterly opposed by many GLBT Democrats who sensed, correctly, that it would become an anti-Obama rally. That was followed by the 2010 desertion of over 30 million of Obama's 2008 voters.

Just before the vote in New York Obama met with two groups. The first was with GLBT misleaders who attended a $1250.00 a plate dinner for his campaign. He declined to endorse our rights. Again. Then Obama moved on to the real business of the night, dinner at Daniel, a very expensive venue where Wall Street banksters paid $35,800 per plate to have the ear of the man who's given them trillions in bailouts, in donations to insurance companies as part of his 'heath care' scam, in hundreds of billions in 'stimulus' boondoggles and to subsidize the losses of banksters caught in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacles.

There'll be much more of the same. According to Bloomberg via AmericaBlog Obama is soliciting "donors who pledge $75,800 to the Obama Victory Fund", who'll be named "Presidential Partners". According to AmericaBlog "you would have to be a fool to miss the connection between the meek financial reform that the White House promoted and his campaign contributions. Also, let's think for a moment about the extension of tax breaks for the wealthy. If you are not part of the deep pocket crowd, you're really not very important to this administration..."

Obama and the Congressional Democrats have betrayed environmentalists, imprisoned and tortured GLBT-antiwar hero Brad Manning, prosecuted, at a horrifying loss in lives to civilians and GIs, six (and counting) wars of naked, ugly aggression to steal land, oil, resources and military bases, betrayed unions and busted the UAW and ourselves, the perennial under the bus crowd.

Unions are threatening to cut him off by withdrawing support and contributions. From my point of view that can't happen too soon and then we can rename them Whigs and continue to fight our other enemies, the Republicans.

On Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 vote socialist, vote left or just sit it out. Instead of worrying about which right wing candidate wins and concentrate on building mass movements to win our agenda.

I'll quote from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy:

"But then," interposed Sutt, "how would Mayor Hardin account for Lord Dorwin's assurances of Empire support? They seemed –" He shrugged. "Well, they seemed satisfactory."

Hardin threw himself back in the chair. "You know, that's the most interesting part of the whole business. I'll admit I had thought his Lordship a most consummate donkey when I first met him – but it turned out that he was actually an accomplished diplomat and a most clever man. I took the liberty of recording all his statements."

There was a flurry, and Pirenne opened his mouth in horror. "What of it?" demanded Hardin. "I realize it was a gross breach of hospitality and a thing no so-called gentleman would do. Also, that if his lordship had caught on, things might have been unpleasant; but he didn't, and I have the record, and that's that. I took that record, had it copied out and sent that to Holk for analysis, also."

Lundin Crast said, "And where is the analysis?"

"That," replied Hardin, "is the interesting thing. The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Holk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications – in short, all the goo and dribble – he found he had nothing left. Everything canceled out." "Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn't say one damned thing, and said it so you never noticed. There are the assurances you had from your precious Empire." Hardin might have placed an actively working stench bomb on the table and created no more confusion than existed after his last statement.

I know several of the issues reported as mentioned or raised have trans dimensions, but were any of those, or any trans specific ones, raised or mentioned at the meeting? Did anyone trans speak? No doubt inadvertently, the report, whilst appreciated, rather reads as if the only Ts were those rounding off "LGBT".

It's good that Obama believes in evolution ... when it comes to LGBT issues, he certainly doesn't believe in Intelligent Design.

C'mon Barack ... get on that dinosaur and holler, "Giddy-Upp!" ...

P.S. With all the speculation about Obama privately having no problem with gay marriage, it has become clear to me the game he's playing: Seeing that in modern times former presidents usually do not stay in politics directly (unless it's humanitarian activities in international politics, such as Jimmy Carter, or Clinton/Bush fundraising for Haiti), he will probably come out supporting marriage equality the day after he wins the last election of his life.

In other words: "Even without LGBT issues, 2012 will not be a cake-walk, and I'm not willing to lose an election over marriage equality."