I had the opportunity to listen to Mike Signorile’s interviews with Tico Almeida from Freedom To Work and Paul Yandura on Friday — in the wake of the major screw-up from the White House over the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. Both provided fascinating insight. Fortunately, today, Mike posted the audio of those interviews, along with a post highlighting some of their key points. If you’re at all interested in how this issue played out, read Mike’s post and listen to the interviews:
“It was weak, it was shallow, it was unpersuasive,” said Almeida of White House arguments made against signing the order, appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ. “It floated back and forth between different reasons. It wasn’t even consistent. There were a few younger, junior staffers who made some arguments that were just laughable. Really embarrassing.”
Almeida believes the rejection of the order is political. He theorized it was caused by “panic” at the White House in an election year, as the issue had suddenly risen above the radar in the media, after two gay men, members of the direct action group Get Equal, planned to confront Obama about it at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
In a separate radio interview, Yandura, who helped create Get Equal and has been critical of the White House for what he sees as foot-dragging, agreed: “The [activists at the] Easter Egg Roll was [a] brilliant move. That got the issue into the mainstream press. It got the White House smoked out on this.”
He criticized some gay groups for giving the president a pass on the issue, in the past and now.
“HRC sat on the polling they did [on this issue] from six months ago,” Yandura charged. “It was clear that the groups — and if you want to say it in positive way — the groups were trying to give the White House space to do the right thing. I would say they weren’t advocating on our behalf. I was told that everyone had agreed they were going to play an insider game. Well, I think we now as a community can see when you play an insider game, this is what you get.”
“The first email I see come out of NGLTF, after this big meeting that Rea Carey’s in, is a fundraising email,” Yandura continued. “They’ve sent nothing out to their list on this. So, if they’re supposed to be leading on ENDA — they’re failing. I think we can watch by, ‘What are our groups doing now?’ Why wouldn’t Rea Carey and Joe Solmonese grow a pair and come out and say ‘I’m not going to stop until you sign this?’”
Of course, we’re annoyed. But, it’s been especially fascinating to watch the hugely negative reaction from people outside of LGBT activism to the President’s decision. It doesn’t make sense, but Tico and Paul provide some good insights.