Mr. Obama’s appearance on Saturday at the annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, represents a significant show of support for gay rights at a time when many prominent gay and lesbian activists have been questioning the president’s commitment to their issues.Former top adviser to Bill Clinton, Richard Socarides, who in May wrote of his impatience with Obama and his lack of movement on LGBT rights, spoke to the AP on this new development.
His appearance will mark only the second time a sitting president has spoken to the Human Rights Campaign. The first time was in 1997 when Bill Clinton spoke to the group. That was the first time a sitting president had ever addressed a gay rights organization.
"Eleven months after his election, he has failed to deliver on any of his commitments to gay Americans, but even worse has been his refusal to engage around these issues . . . What he needs to do now is engage and deliver,"Socarides told the AP. "Spend some of his political capital on ending the gay military ban, a hugely symbolic issue. And with no intellectually sound arguments left against it, come out squarely for gay marriage equality."
HRC President Joe Solmonese has responded, saying "We are honored to share this night with President Obama, who has called upon our nation to embrace LGBT people as brothers and sisters. It is fitting that he will speak to our community on the night that we pay tribute to his friend and mentor Senator Edward Kennedy, who knew that as president, Barack Obama would take on the unfinished business of this nation — equal rights for the LGBT community, and for every person who believes in liberty and justice for all."
Lady Gaga, the case of Glee and others will be at the dinner.
I've been told numerous times that I'm the happy-go-lucky type. Always smiling, easy to please and patient. I don't get angry that easily. I have a long fuse.
But when it's come to Obama, the president has snipped my fuse short and has lit it with a blow torch. I have not been quiet when it comes to Obama. Not at all. Nope.
I would like to think this bit of news is welcoming for me. But for some reason, it isn't.
Should I be appeased that Obama is interrupting at the last minute his pre-planned golf game to speak at a black tie dinner with celebrities in tow? Hosted by an organization that has let Obama off the hook one too many times?
Should I be happy that this historical president, who promised so much during his campaign including being our "fierce advocate", but who hasn't lifted a finger for LGBT rights since he's stepped into office with a Democrat controlled Congress, won't even bother to make a short appearance in front of a historical gathering of the LGBT grassroots the next day?
Should I be thrilled to hear that there's speculation that Obama will announce something in his speech, probably something similar to the LGBT White House cocktail party which was full of damn rhetoric or the crumbs he tossed an angry LGBT population when he gave federal LGBT employees benefits they already had?
I don't care if I should be pleased that he's speaking. Again. At another party. With more rhetoric and platitudes and empty promises.
So what will please me? Action.
Action speaks louder than words, Mr. President. A speech is a dime a dozen. Legislation is priceless.