The new Obama talking points don’t even include DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as priorities any longer.
President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, Steve Hildebrand, who is himself openly gay, penned a piece for the Huffington Post yesterday that delineates the three “gay” priorities that Congress should focus on: safe schools; hate crimes; and ENDA.
After two weeks of the Obama White House reeling over the gay backlash caused by the anti-gay DOMA brief, which compared gay marriage to incest and pedophilia, we now have the number two guy on the Obama campaign suddenly writing about what our legislative priorities should be. Don’t think for a minute that this essay wasn’t either written by the White House, written at their behest, or at the very least cleared with them. This essay is the White House’s thinking on gay issues.
And what is that thinking? First, that the burden for doing anything pro-gay in the remaining three and a half years of the Obama administration is now shifted to Congress. Obama has no role whatsoever, and no power to influence anything, even though he’s still the leader of the free world. The essay makes clear that the onus is on Congress and no one else.
Second, the three big gay rights priorities that Congress should be focusing on do not even include what have organically become the community’s top two priorities: repealing DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. They’re not even mentioned in the Obama deputy’s essay.
Politics is, in many ways, the art of reading tea leaves. I think Joe and I have both proven our worth in terms of our ability to read what’s going on in Washington behind the scenes, particularly as it concerns issues of importance to the gay community. Never have we received a clearer signal that the Obama administration does not share our priorities than this essay.
Yes, safe schools are great. And the hate crimes bill is important too (even though, oddly, it was able to pass a filibuster in the last congress but can’t even get a vote in this one). But Joe and I predicted that Obama and the Democratic Congress would use hate crimes as some be-all and end-all issue, after which they would wash their hands with us – never focusing on the more important issues of marriage and the military. And that appears to be exactly what is happening.
It’s not clear if some gay group is giving Obama the behind the scenes permission to abandon his promises to our community on the military ban and on DOMA, but it’s increasingly looking that way. And if that’s the case, the community’s ire will no longer be focused solely on Democrats. It will turn towards any apologist organization that is more interested in attending next-to-meaningless White House ceremonies and cocktail parties instead of defending its own community.