Monday, June 22, 2009

UPDATE: Obama, the DOJ, the DNC and the LGBT - A Major Cluster F***

UPDATE 3: The White House confirms that there will in fact be a "reception" Monday to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, to the New York Times, “Next Monday’s event is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT Americans. Invited guests include families, volunteers and activists, and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month.”

Nice, it's appreciated, been done before (by Clinton, whose administration saw DOMA and DADT pass), now where's the action? And why is this event unannounced?

UPDATE 2: The SLDN has issued a statement that they will be outside the Washington DC LGBT DNC fundraiser, joining the protests and boycotting the event.

"SLDN will be outside boycotting the Democratic National Committee (DNC) LGBT event in Washington this Thursday. SLDN will be calling upon the President to end his silence on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We will be wearing and handing out buttons with the number 265, representing the number of service members who will have been discharged this week since President Obama was sworn in."

Read the rest.

UPDATE: A contributor at Pam's House Blend has come up with this great form that you can fax to the DNC instead of your donation.
A lot has happened over this weekend - the news waits for no one.

The Plumline reports that the Obama Administration is going to have a major but private meeting next week with some of the larger gay organizations to smooth over tensions in the wake of the controversy over the administration’s defense in court of the Defense of Marriage Act."

Both GLAD and Lambda Legal have federal cases in the works that challenge DOMA in one way or another, and when they reached out to the opposition in the Department of Justice to talk about the cases in order to prepare, they got the terse response, "Our position hasn't changed."
"It remains to be seen, however, whether the meeting will achieve in a long term sense what gay rights lawyers told me they were and are looking for — an ongoing, less-confrontational interaction with the administration in the context of specific cases. It’s also an open question whether the meeting will resolve broader tensions in what has been an unexpectedly rocky relationship," Plumline reports.

They do have some smoothing over to do. Well, a lot actually.

White House staff member, Lisa Brown, the White House staff secretary, said about the DOMA brief at a forum, "There’s no question–personal statement–that there were some cites in there that should not—that should not have been in there...They were trying to...essentially eliminate arguments that the Bush Administration had made."

“Nobody thinks it’s fast enough right now, but I know the President cares about this," she added. "It’s going in the right direction, if not quickly enough.”

The smoothing over continues. Joe Subday reports that today, two top White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and Political Director Patrick Gaspard, will be holding a conference call with the LGBT DNC caucus, that will include "updates" on the Administration's LGBT agenda.

"Updates." You mean, actual actions?

"This does go to show -- and I've heard it from many people on other issues -- if you want the attention of the Obama White House, you have to play hard ball," Joe reports. "For the LGBT community, among other things, that means shutting down the Gay ATM."

That Gay ATM is running out of easy access cash. This Thursday's LGBT DNC fundraiser in Washington DC is losing even more attendees. On Top Magazine quoted Jason Bartlett, the National Black Justice Coalition's deputy director, as saying, "I don't know of any board members that are intending on going."

But on top of facing a dwindling attendee list, the DNC is going to have to deal with protests outside their events. The planned protest for Thursday's Washingotn DC fundraiser has caught the organizers' attention, who made light of it in an email to attendees, saying, "Contribute -- but stand outside with a sign! We ll keep a plate warm for you and buy you a drink afterward, when the cameras are gone. We are, after all, all on the same team."

But DC's fundraiser isn't the only one facing protests. Boston's DNC fundraiser is facing its own protest, organized by Join the Impact. Their Facebook Event page says, "...we've gotten more in the past 6 days for the LGBT community than we have in the past 6 months...Putting on this protest will be emblematic of a larger issue at hand for the Obama administration and the Dems. No longer is the protest singled out just in Washington, DC, but now they're spreading."

So how does the Administration plan further smoothing over? By throwing a party for the gays at the end of the month. Y'know, since we're known for our fondness of fetes and the White House for photo-ops. Again, I try not to be too cynical, but after what I've witnessed from Obama since he's taken office, it's hard not to be. So I have to agree with America Blog when they write:
It's clear that the purpose [of the party] is two-fold. First, the White House is trying, again, to surround the president with A-list gays in order to show how "gay friendly" he is - he's even willing to give a speech in a room full of them for a full 8 minutes! And second, the White House hopes that a little champagne and fancy food will convince the A-listers to throw the rest of you overboard. Because, after all, what's two gay service members discharged a day and an ongoing effort to legally label you as akin to pedophila and incest, when there's champagne to be served.

I think it's fair to say that, unless the White House shows significant action on Don't Ask Don't Tell and DOMA by the time of this party, any representative of a gay organization attending this event is going to met with a swift community-wide boycott of their organization.
And why do I agree? Because it's nothing new. That's how, after all the atrocities from the Clinton Administration, that we didn't bail on the Democrats - they bought us with champagne and fancy parties.

Michelangelo Signorile puts it simply enough: "What we need now is real action. Not these crumbs, whether it be the census inclusion or some benefits for federal employees. We need something big, and until then, the DNC fundraisers should continue to be threatened, and nobody among the gay leadership should be partying with this president."

But here's a bright spot. We've seen our issues rebuffed too many times at the White House's press briefings from Press Secretary Gibbs. Friday, the tone was quite different.

As stated, the Obama Administration only responds to hardball actions. We found out what we knew already to be true confirmed - Democrats use us for our money. So our hardball response - close our wallets. Keep them shut until we see some real action. In the meantime, check out these protests if you want to show solidarity.

Washington DC DNC LGBT Fundraiser Protest
Boston DNC Protest

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