DNC LGBT caucus member responds

A member of the DNC’s LGBT leadership council sent me a message, hoping to give us more insight into what exactly took place on that phone call the other that the White House held with the senior gay members of the DNC. The most important part of the message was the description of the “successes” to date from the Obama administration on gay rights issues. And I quote:

I’m hoping you also heard about the list of priorities/accomplishments: 1) signed UN declaration on gay rights

Yes, this would be the UN declaration that commits the Obama administration to push other countries to decriminalize homosexuality. Okay, I’m game. What’s the Obama administration’s “plan” for pushing other countries to decriminalize being gay? In Iraq, for example, we regularly read of atrocities against gays and lesbians. In Turkey too. So what has the administration actually donehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif to make the lives of gays and lesbians in Iraq and Turkey better? I know they signed a document promising to help, but what have they actually done to help, besides simply offer campaign-style promises?

2) moving forward with inclusive Hate Crimes

Ah, “moving forward.” In fact, the hate crimes bill is moving backward. It was supposed to come up for a vote last week, and now we’re told it’s been postponed several months because they just can’t all agree where to put the bill. This piece of legislation that passed both the House and Senate in the last congress, and even survived a filibuster in the Senate, is now stuck in the mud. It’s not “moving forward” at all. And in any case, tell us exactly what the Obama White House has done to help it move forward.

3) federal benefits within allowances of DOMA & active support for Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act

Well, kind of. Those federal benefits already existed, and gay employees were already eligible to get them. But it was up to their supervisors whether to give them out. Second, the benefits don’t include health care or retirement. Obama said DOMA stops him from giving those benefits. Gay lawyers I talk to say that this is a lie. In fact, we now know that when gay legal groups tried to sit down with the Obama administration in order to work out why Obama thought DOMA precluded healthy benefits, when the groups say it does not, the Obama administration refused to sit down, refused to provide any information that might have helped these groups create a work-around around DOMA.

4) proceeding with lifting HIV entry ban

Proceeding? That’s another of saying “we haven’t done it yet.”

5) developing a new national HIV/AIDS strategy

Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. Perhaps there’s some massive inter-governmental effort to develop a new national strategy – if so, we’d like to hear more about this.

6) inclusion of LGBT counts in census

Yes, that was very nice. Not on our radar, but very nice.

7) hiring & appointment of LGBT personnel

Again, very nice, but Bill Clinton in 1993 hired LGBT personnel, as did George Bush. In 2009, you don’t credit for not discriminating against minorities in hiring UNLESS you break a glass ceiling, such as picking an openly gay person for your cabinet or for the Supreme Court. And it’s clear that no openly gay person will be stepping into that cabinet room for a long time coming.

8) working toward repeal of DADT

Okay, I’m game. Tell us all the “work” the Obama administration has done to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Is part of that “work” refusing to issue a stop-loss order which would spare the careers of two gay service members a day?

9) full support for ENDA and work for its passage

My dog “supports” ENDA. We expect our president to lead, not follow. Support is something you do when you run for president. Actually work towards passage of legislation is something you do when you ARE president. What has Barack Obama done since taking office to advance ENDA?

And finally, not a word about the anti-gay DOJ brief comparing us to incest and pedophilia. Apparently, we don’t even merit an explanation, let alone an apology.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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