When arriving, the attendees were greeted by close to 25 protesters from across the street, chanting "Shame on you!" and carrying signs that read, "gAyTM Out of Order" and "265 Discharged", the number of gay and lesbian service men and women discharged under DADT since Obama took office.
180 people showed up paying between $1,000 to $30,400 a plate. And according to The Advocate, many stood in solidarity with those protesting outside by wearing red, white and blue buttons with the number "265."
Politico reports that Vice President Biden acknowledged the tension between the LGBT population and the Obama Administration and promised to "put some pace on the ball."
The vice president spent 20 minutes trying to convince the donors inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that President Barack Obama is dedicated to following through on his campaign promises. He said he had asked to give the speech at the annual leadership dinner Thursday night, and he read from a TelePrompter.Images from Flickr user Bullneck.
"I am not unaware of the controversy swirling around this dinner and swirling around the speed or lack thereof that we are moving on issues that are of great importance to you," Biden said.
Biden drew repeated standing ovations, according to a pool report, as he pledged the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the passage of the Lieberman-Baldwin bill on health benefits, a ban on workplace discrimination, adoption rights for all and an end to the HIV travel ban.
"I promise you with your help we'll get there in this administration," he said, going as far as to add that if the country achieves gender equality, "I will have marked my term as vice president as being truly worthwhile."
My thoughts: I have mixed feelings about this. They raised $250,000 more than last year, despite the controversy. We've been talking about how our money is the greatest tool at our disposal to get the Obama Administration's attention, to push them to keep their promises and to live up to the standards that we elected them on.
I've been accused of attacking our leaders and supporting the cannibalization of our movement - that in fact boycotting the DNC fundraiser, criticizing the LGBT caucus' actions and responses and getting angry at the lack of movement from the Administration is actually hindering our common goal for equality.
I have to disagree. Attacking (which is a strong word that shouldn't be easily thrown about) and criticizing are two different things. Attacking is malicious with no regard for outcome other than to cause hurt. Criticism comes from a place of hope and change for a better outcome than the present. And when I criticize, I don't do it based on rumors.
A good leader needs to expect and want criticism. A good leader listens to those criticisms coming from those who follow them. A good leader then acts on it, especially if those actions come from promises. Sometimes it takes the anger and strong actions of constituents to get the leader's attention. Without criticism of leaders, the civil rights movements of the past would never had gain any sort of victory whatsoever.
We had Obama's attention. But now, despite all of our efforts to keep him accountable to his promises by closing our wallets, we raise more money than before. My fear is that now the Administration will yet again become complacent with our issues now that they have taken a big withdrawal from the gAyTM that is far from being out of order.
I hope that the DNC and Obama will use this money to our benefit and further our causes. But we have a long history of our hopes being shattered. We're not willing to let it happen again. I'm not about to sit back and rest on hope. That was fine for the Obama campaign, but it's not fine for the Obama Administration.
I still have faith that Obama will bring change. But it's definitely not blind faith.