I made the headline up to prove a point. It’s nice that the Obama administration invited gay parents to the White House Easter Egg Roll, but these poignant yet relatively empty gestures are becoming tiresome. They feel good, and they’re intended to. But they’re not terribly substantive, and they’re not nearly enough in the year 2010. We keep receiving an awful lot of small token benefits from the Obama administration, like inviting a gay band to march in the inaugural parade, speaking at the the HRC dinner (as if the President had a choice but to pay homage to a core Democratic constituency that means a lot of money to the Democratic party), and “granting” the partners of gay employees benefits that THEY ALREADY HAD.
And when the administration chooses to offer gay and lesbian Americans a major benefit, they reach for the easiest one, Hate Crimes (which already passed a previous congress and even broke a GOP filibuster) rather than one of the top three, DOMA, ENDA and DADT. They chose the option that didn’t require any political capital spent by the President.
The reason I do not praise a gay couple being invited to the Easter Egg Roll is the same reason I’m not going to praise President Obama for inviting black parents or Hispanic parents to the White House. It’s not 1953. Gay and lesbian Americans are decades beyond “pariah” status. Being seen in public with us, as Jesus embraced the prostitute, doesn’t cut it any more. And it’s even a tad offensive to suggest that it should – as though we are such outcasts that a simple nod from the popular kid in the high school hallway should make us all giddy and satisfied.
We are a major Democratic constituency that helped elect Barack Obama president in exchange for three major promises: repeal DADT and DOMA, pass ENDA. There is no movement on the last two, and the President is no longer interested in doing DADT this year, even though he promised in his State of the Union.
Shortly after the DOMA brief fiasco, in which the Obama administration invoked incest and pedophilia to defend the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act” in court, the administration and the DNC began compiling a long list of quite thin pro-gay accomplishments. The clear intent was to convince gay voters that much had been done, simply by the sheer length of the list, and hope that we didn’t notice that many of the “accomplishments” were a bit of a joke.
For example, in an email titled “Progress,” sent just last week, DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias asked for more gay contributions to the Democratic Party, bragging that the health care reform bill was somehow a sign of “progress” for gay people. Let me remind you that the Democrats dropped all of the pro-gay provisions that Tammy Baldwin attempted to put in the health care reform bill. Those provisions are now dead. The Democrats ignored our community’s paltry requests (and mind you, under the health care reform’s definition of “family,” you can kiss your family goodbye). No help from the White House, no help from the DNC. Yet the DNC’s Tobias brags to gay donors that they should donate to the DNC because health care reform is somehow an amazing pro-gay accomplishment.
No, an amazing pro-gay accomplishment, and real progress, would be for the White House to take Jim Messina, Brian Bond and Andy Tobias off the “gay” agenda and hand the portfolio to someone who is actually interested in, and capable of, keeping the President’s promises to our community.