Obama’s OFA to help push gay marriage in Illinois. This is a big deal.

President Obama’s campaign operation, Obama for America, created a DNC-connected offshoot in January of 2009 called Organizing for America (OFA). In January of 2013, Organizing for America transformed into an independent non-profit, Organizing for Action. And today we find out that Organizing for Action is organizing in Illinois for action on gay marriage.

It’s a big deal. Here’s why.

It wasn’t that long ago that a common complaint in the gay community was that the large Obama’s campaign apparatus was avoiding the issues of gay and trans rights entirely.

The issue came to a head in November of 2009, when a measure to repeal marriage equality was being voted on in Maine. OFA sent an email to Mainers urging them to vote the next day, but not telling what was being voted on, a hugely important assault on gays and lesbians in the state.

Things only got worse when a subsequent OFA email asked Mainers to get involved in a local New Jersey race on election day, but not their own gay marriage battle.

gay marriage lesbian couples

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It wasn’t until June of 2010 that OFA finally sent an email about a gay rights issue, in this case “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but it was only a fundraiser for the DNC – not a real effort to help us move forward on repealing the military’s gay ban. But at least they acknowledged us, which was a step forward.

One of the excuses we were given for OFA’s inaction was that the DNC doesn’t get involved in “state” issues. Now it appears they do, and good for them.

The newest iteration of OFA is joining the battle for marriage equality in Illinois.  Which is important symbolically and substantively.  It matters that an organization created, in effects, by President Obama is fighting for gay marriage in a state where black voters are being barraged with anti-gay messages by the pedophile-enabling Catholic church, among others.

Last year in Marland there were concerns that the quite Democratic African-American community might turn out in record numbers for President Obama last fall, but also vote in large numbers against the gay marriage legislation on the ballot in that state.  Many now believe that the President’s open endorsement of marriage equality last summer had a huge impact on changing the minds of African-American voters, and ultimately helping marriage equality now become the law of the land in Maryland.

Hopefully, the same will hold true in Illinois.

Now, I know some will argue that OFA is late to the ball, as it were.  The same criticism was lobbed against former RNC chair, and now openly-gay, Ken Mehlman when he came out and started working publicly on gay rights issue.  And the same criticism was lobbed at GOP Senator Rob Portman when he announced last week that his son was gay, and as a result he was now in favor of same-sex marriage.  And it’s understandable that people are skeptical about, and angry at, those who weren’t with us before, but are now.

But that doesn’t change the fact that we need their support, we’re better off with their support than without it, and as a former Log Cabin spokesman wrote to me on Facebook recently, we can’t keep urging people to “do the right thing” and support our civil rights, but then when they finally do what we ask, criticize them for it.

I think it’s fair to tell OFA, Mehlman, and Portman that we’re glad they’re now on our side on the marriage issue, and that the proof will be in the pudding.  If they really come through for us, if they sincerely are interested in helping advance our civil rights struggle, and put their proverbial money where their mouth is, then they are most welcome.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • rmthunter

    I feel sort of useless on this — my state senator was a primary sponsor on the bill, and my state rep is an open lesbian. (Gee, I wonder how she’s going to vote?) And my district is so blue it’s indigo.

  • rmthunter

    Forget 2008, because they have. Obama’s a politician — not meant as a pejorative, but as a description: we are all, to one extent or another, politicians. He’s also a strategist (although he doesn’t seem to be much of a tactician), and he’ll move in his own time and according to his own perceived needs. (Although he doesn’t always call it right — DADT being a major case in point.) Sniping from the sidelines doesn’t register; the “GayTM” drying up registered. The fact that the gay community is a crucial swing bloc registers — we stay home, and the Democrats stand to lose an election. He’s also fairly cautious — he’s not going to spend political capital unless he’s looking at a sure thing.

    Repeal of DOMA is not going to get through the House. Obama knows that. His response is to refuse to defend it in the courts, and to file a brief and make oral arguments opposing it. What more does anyone want? Add to that a brief filed by over 100 congressional Democrats (our “enemies” according to some) against DOMA. And I think that’s the best strategy — if Congress repeals it, they can always reinstate it. If there’s a Supreme Court precedent that it’s unconstitutional, they have to amend the Constitution, and that’s not going to happen.

    So, yeah, keep up the pressure, but do it in a way that’s going to get to them — talk to your congresscritter, write letters, organize, withhold donations until they perform. Stop whining about what they didn’t do back when — they’ve forgotten all about it — and work from what they’re doing now.

  • rmthunter

    “If they really come through for us, if they sincerely are interested in helping advance our civil rights struggle, and put their proverbial money where their mouth is, then they are most welcome.”

    No brainer — or should be. Apparently for too many in the community, it’s not. These are the ones for whom nothing is ever good enough — Obama took too long to support SSM, it took Portman two years to change his mind on SSM publicly, the Republicans who signed onto a brief against DOMA are all has-beens, and on and one and on. Is it any wonder that people are reluctant to voice support for our cause? All they’re going to get is vitriol. One very important lesson I learned in my life: accept help that is offered graciously and sincerely, because you can’t do it all yourself.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Both oppose, in action, the passage of ENDA and the repeal of DOMA. That is how they are alike, which is what I said. Nothing about that comment is false.

    Your position remains irrelevant because it’s not grounded in reality, just as high school civics classes are irrelevant to the real world.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Absolutely, no matter how much the Obots wail.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    In addition to basic civics, you also might want to educate yourself on the fallacy of false equivalence. Your repeated suggestions that Democrats and Republicans are “alike” on gay rights has no basis in reality.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    I’m on no cross. I’m happy to give Obama credit when he does something right. And I worked hard for his re-election.

    Unclear what DADT has to do with the issue of moving Obama on marriage equality.

    Quite clear, however, is the role of that race chip on your shoulder in driving your barely coherent attack post. The first black president is a president, not a messiah, and should be treated just like any other president. If you prefer to worship him in idolatry, you’re perfectly free to do that. Just get the fuck out of the way while the rest of us are trying to create some equality, troll.

  • emjayay

    I for one think Obama is a decent guy. Despite having been raised and educated as Roman Catholic, I don’t understand Obama’s apparent belief in an invisible sky god who is sort of like a human mammal and also created everything. He’s not the only one. The OFA or other Democrat party related consensus reflects the same kind of thinking. They will use any kind of reason to justify what they are or aren’t doing. You can’t expect any of them to get too far ahead of the polling – their fingers are in the air detecting which way the wind is blowing. Our job is to look at the evidence and our values and not be political in that way, and maybe by weight of opinion influence things.

  • TeaTime

    Oh climb down off the cross! “He was a {serious obstruction} and simply had to be forced to move”. Lofty sense of self I would say. So how exactly did you or John ‘force’ him to move? As I thought and many can read, delusional is your middle name. Having to give this President the credit for the major advances in gay rights must be causing you many sleepless nights. And when history gets it right (which it will), I’m sure your collective heads will explode.

    Moreover, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, and OutServe, to name a few, without the racist undertones, had more to do with pushing the repeal of DADT than anything that was done by John and his acolytes — yet he uses “we” repealed. Again, lofty sense of self.

    Additionally, it was the Hispanic vote, in particular, that went further than any other minority group(s) in helping keep the President in office, which is evidenced by the Republican [Leadership's]
    outreach to Hispanics (and even AA) while at the same time making statements like, I can never imagine changing by mind on [supporting] same-sex marriage.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrats and Republicans are our enemies. Those who forget that wake up time after time in a hospital bed with tire marks on their face.

  • S1AMER

    That was then. All sorts of things should have happened back then. But they didn’t. It’s today. We are where we are today. We can’t go back for un-dos or re-dos.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Good, it’s about time. I’ll continue to bitch and complain though, because I think it’s important to be a constantly squeaky wheel. My message will still be, “Thanks, great, we really appreciate it. Truly and sincerely, we do. But it would have been better for everyone concerned had you realized there were consequences to failing to keep your promises to your LGBT supporters after the 2008 election. Now let’s move on and get this done.”

    I’m especially gratified finally to be hearing some of them saying that maybe it’s not right at all for individual states to be banning marriage equality rights — and to be saying so not in the context of a campaign stump speech.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Agreed. And why it is essential to play hardball with them, because sitting back and expecting them to do the right thing and keep their promises has been proven a losing strategy.

  • Bill_Perdue

    They had majorities and refused to act. Remember?

  • Bill_Perdue

    Your laughter and your civics lesson are equally irrelevant because you don’t take into account real world politics. Political life does not conform to a high school civics course.

    Democrats and Republicans alike oppose passage of ENDA and repeal of DOMA. In 2007 former speaker Pelosi and Reid in the senate scuttled the hate crimes bill and in the house she permitted the quisling Frank to gut ENDA. DOMA repeal was a joke for Democrats. Their actions regarding the Hate Crimes bill, ENDA and DOMA were dictated by the insistence of presidential candidates like the bigots H. Clinton and Obama, who did not want to be seen as “friends of the faggots”.

    Democrats had the votes for both in much of 2009 and 2010 and refused to act.

    Get grounded in reality. Democrats and Republicans are both run by bigots, ‘evolved’ bigot and bigot panderers. They are both the enemies of our progress, world peace, full employment and the Bill of rights.

  • S1AMER

    You make sense only if there are 100 Democrats in the Senate and 435 Democrats in the House.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    Things like this is why is was so crucial to hold out in 2012 until Obama gave in on marriage equality. He was a serious obstruction and simply had to be forced to move.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    LOL! You seem to need a primer on how bills and amendments become law.

    None of those proposals can move because the Republican minority would filibuster them in the Senate and Speaker Boehner would refuse to allow a floor vote on them in the House. Let’s recall how the repeal of DADT became law: Speaker Pelosi allowed a floor vote in the House, and Democrats with a handful of moderate Republicans overcame a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

    You’re unaware, I assume, of Speaker Boehner’s refusal to bring bills to the floor of the House for a vote unless a majority of the Republican caucus supports them?

  • Bill_Perdue

    It’s a result of Obama’s evolution and will be as helpful as Hillary’s evolution.

    But it doesn’t mean much because the and Democrats refuse to repeal Bill Clintons DOMA, pass ENDA and pass a constitutional amendment invalidating state DOMA’s.

  • S1AMER

    Good move!

    Meanwhile, y’all, contact anybody and everybody you know in Illinois and urge them to support marriage. As someone who grew up there, I’d love to see Illinois as the Big Ten[th] equality state.

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