The perfect opportunity has just opened up for President Barack Obama to appoint an LGBT advisor to a top White House post.
Friday morning, Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook confirmed that Brian Bond, the de facto White House liaison to the LGBT community, is leaving to join the Democratic National Committee. Via Allen:
“BRIAN BOND joins DNC as director of constituency outreach. He has been at White House Office of Public Engagement for past two years and has been on frontlines of key initiatives, particularly on LGBT front.”
Truth be told, Bond was not a chief political advisor to the president on LGBT issues and he didn’t carry the title of “special assistant” (or higher) to the president – a rank that affords people clout and ensures them a certain amount of access to the Oval Office. John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, has primarily served as the lead on LGBT issues in the context of this administration. Bond was more likely to be relaying and implementing what had been decided by others.
But as I suggested in a post last week, now is the time to appoint an LGBT advisor who plays a lead role in serious political and policy discussions of the day at the White House. More often than not, White House aides have been reactive in how they have handled gay rights and have typically taken a piecemeal approach to things: Check off enough boxes and surely the queer community would eventually be satisfied.
However, in the next year and a half, it will be more critical than ever for the White House to be anticipatory and proactive because the gay rights issue that scares them most – the one the president literally recoils from addressing – will be unavoidable in 2012.
While the White House still thinks of marriage equality as a gay issue, the greater public now thinks of it as an American issue. This is something White House advisors have failed to comprehend thus far, otherwise they wouldn’t be holding so steadfastly to a federalist rationale for keeping the president out of it.
A high-placed advisor could help them anticipate just how tone-deaf President Obama’s current stance will sound every time he’s forced to reiterate it on the campaign trail. He can talk about “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal and DOMA all he wants, the voters still know a dodge when they see one.