Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pro-LGBT Groups Plan to Picket Obama at HRC Dinner - But What Are We Asking For?

Andy Thayer, the LGBT activist who successful ran the Stop Dr. Laura campaign, is now focusing his attention on President Obama, and in particular, his appearance at the HRC dinner on the eve of the National Equality March.

A press release:
Pro-LGBT Picket of Obama This Saturday Moved from White House to HRC Gala

In reaction to the announcement yesterday that President Obama will address a black tie fundraising gala of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on Saturday, October 10th, organizers of a pro-LGBT picket originally scheduled for that night at the White House have instead moved the picket to the site of the HRC gala. The picket will begin at 6 PM in front of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, on the northeast corner of Mt Vernon Place NW and 9th Street NW, Washington, DC.

While the picket organizers will be participating in the Sunday, Oct. 11th Equality March, they charge that the march organizers have been going easy on the Obama administration and the Democratic Party in general. Barack Obama was long on pro-gay promises during the campaign, they say, yet short on delivering on them once he took power in late January.

“The time for talking is over,” said Andy Thayer of the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network (, one of the two organizations sponsoring the picket. “This President promised to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he promised to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he promised to pass the pro-LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a whole host of other things. Instead, he’s delivered on nothing while embracing anti-gay bigots Rick Warren and Donnie McClurkin. The last thing we need is more flowery rhetoric in front of rich, self-effacing gays and lesbians dressed up like penguins.”

The picket is cosponsored by the Dallas-based direct action group, Queer Liberaction (, a group which played a leading role in organizing an effective community response to the violent police raid on a Fort Worth bar. ”The Obama administration has likened LGBT relationships to incest and bestiality,” said Queer Liberaction co-founder Blake Wilkenson. “He cited his ‘Christian beliefs’ for the reason why he now opposes equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. He refuses issue a stop-loss order to prevent purges of lesbian and gay soldiers. If we are going to get real change out of this White House, we need to make demands of this President. As the great anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass put it, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’”

For more information about the Saturday, October 10th pro-LGBT picket of President Obama, contact the Gay Liberation Network at or 773.209.1187, or Queer Liberaction at or 214.679.6321

More information can also be found at the Facebook event for the picket.
Others are just as equally non-plussed. GOProud, a group broken off from the Log Cabin Republicans, quickly issued this video:

Now, as I've been very clear before, I'm not impressed with Obama thus far. I was disappointed instead of excited to hear that he would be going to an HRC fundraiser, a group who has let Obama and his inaction off the hook. The president is playing safe and staying in his confrontation-free bubble. I even joined the picket outside of a Obama-attended fundraiser in Los Angeles when it became clear that Obama would not issue stop-loss orders to keep gays and lesbians from being discharged under Don't Ask Don't Tell.

However, I'm not so sure how I feel about this picket. I'm literally on the fence. On one hand, I say "Go for it!" The president needs to realize that his inaction will not be forgotten and will continually be called into account. On the other, unlike the last picket I attended when he actually decided NOT to act on LGBT rights in a very specific way, Obama hasn't done anything as specific lately. Sure, he's sitting on his hands playing politics, but that's not anything new. (Though the Stonewall Democrats thinks he's done a great job. Go figure.)

I guess I'm looking for a specific ask from this picket line to be voiced for the president to hear. At the last picket in Los Angeles, Obama made a remark in his speech at the fundraiser that he wasn't sure what promises the picket was holding him to.

I think Michael Jones said it well at We don't need another empty speech from the president. We've head plenty, thank you very much. What we need is for him to make his speech at the dinner worth while for all. I say we ask him for a simple sentence:

"I support marriage equality in Maine."

Whether you think he will or not is besides the point. You'll never know if you don't ask. I say the picketers should be asking for this endorsement from President Obama loud and clear.

That will be a picket I can join.

Image from Los Angeles picket outside DNC fundraiser.

1 comment:

  1. We should ALWAYS picket HRC events because they continue to endorse pro-war, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-health care, candidiates including Republicans. They divide our struggles.