Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama at HRC: Recap of Blogger Comments

Last night Lt. Dan Choi, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, and Hilary Rosen appeared on CNN to give their reactions to President Obama's speech. Dan Savage was mostly unimpressed. Signorile said he heard "nothing new." See the videos here and here.What's particularly disturbing is how President Obama contradicts himself, and his own administration, when talking to a gay crowd. The president claimed that he's for treating gay couples just like married couples. Then why is he against letting gay couples marry? The president claimed that it doesn't matter if we're at war and working on health care and lots of other important issues, we must forget ahead on gay civil rights. Then why is Obama's own administration putting out the talking point that they can't move ahead on gay rights until the wars are over, until health care is over, until Obama has less on his plate? Even General Jones last week said we can't do DADT because we're at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But President Obama claimed today that precisely because we're at war it is important to lift the ban now.
Comment: with an executive order, obama could stop discharges right now based on DADT. this is BEYOND dispute. that's about as "incremental" as it gets... you can tell a lot about a leader's character by the excuses they allow their apologists to float on their behalf. no magic wand, stealth chess, political capital, it's someone's job VERSUS taking 5 minutes to sign an EO, and LEADING... apologists: spin all you want, but what kind of leader talks about what to do and then essentially says "you first"?

Comment: How totally unreasonable it is to expect that 8 years of disaster under Bush and Co. can be corrected by anyone in less than a year. PATIENCE IS A MUST as is FAITH. Always remember the "majority" which is blocked by BLUE DOGS will take strong effort to overcome.
, This speech offered less than the cocktail party speech for the A-listers back in June.
Comment: I'm more disappointed by what he has done than what he hasn't done. He has remained silent on the elections in Maine and Washington. He actually removed some of his promises to the GLBT community from his website, which seems to indicate that he has no intention of keeping them. He has not advocated any GLBT legislation. When these items have been introduced, he has not wasted any political capital to promote them. He could sign an executive order to stop DADT until legislation is passed (it's been introduced), but he hasn't. Military heads are coming out in favor of its repeal, so support is there. His DOJ continues to file briefs for DOMA, even though they could stop any time, based on the belief that it's unconstitutional. (and it could be based on the Loving decision, which allowed Obama's parents to be married in all 50 states.) So my disappointements are on the things he has done (or chosen not to do in the wake of others' work). That can happen now.

Comment: I was once affiliated with HRC, and soon realized it was a de facto private club for A-Table Gays (self-defined) who relished hobnobbing with the current elite (self-defined) and getting layed by the same (if possible), rather than actually doing anything "distasteful" (e.g., marching in the streets, pressuring politicians, annoying anyone in power) that might further their mission statement to achieve equal rights for gay and Lesbian Americans. Now they get to hobnob with the first post-Camelot (or is it Camelot 2?) President with grace, charm, and a flare for speech making. How "fabulous" it all is, dahling! As one such celebrity and A Table gay friend said, when I asked his current view of Obama "I sure wouldn't throw him out of my bed!" The rather infantile hero worship and sense of being part of an incrowd was so revolting. (Yes, I know many gay men missed this tribal phase in highschool but is that really what HRC is all about?? You judge.)
Jose Antonio Vargas, Gay rights is civil rights. To be clear, President Obama did not exactly use those words. But about five minutes into his roughly 20-minute address, Obama echoed the sentiment at the black-tie, star-studded fundraising event hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay advocacy group. Drawing a line between the long, painful struggle of black Americans to the festering frustration of gay Americans that his administration has not done enough for them, Obama said: "It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petioning for equal rights half a century ago." ... As I watched the live stream of the speech online, I flipped through the pages "Why We Can't Wait," the impassioned, 166-page account of segregated Birmingham written by Martin Luther King, Jr., who, like Obama, was a recipient of the Noble Peace Prize. I combed through the chapters, re-reading some of the lines I had highlighted years ago while a student at San Francisco State University. The quote on the book cover read: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." ... Why gays can't wait is because 29 states ban same-sex marriages, while the Defense of Marriage Act waits to be repealed. Why gays can't wait is because gays and lesbians serving in the U.S. military, while being sent to fight wars, can't be open about who they are. Why gays can't wait is because people lose their jobs merely because they are gay. Why gays can't wait is because gay rights, after all, is civil rights.

Pam's House Blend: I have to tell you, the low expectations I had regarding LGBT policy were unfortunately met on that account. If you're an activist or citizen looking for timelines, actions, use of the bully pulpit, ANYTHING that would indicate to the community that our President was serious about moving on the laundry list of LGBT issues any time soon, you would call it a fail.

Dan Savage: My reaction: a friend has been sending me ecstatic emails about the speech. I just watched it—the speech is every bit as good as the ones candidate Obama gave, as the performance candidate Obama delivered at the HRC/Logo Democratic Primary Debate, as the open letter to the LGBT community that candidate Obama released before last November's election. Imagine all the wonderful things this guy is going to accomplish if he ever actually gets elected president. In other words: sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service.

Andrew Sullivan: But the sad truth is: he is refusing to take any responsibility for his clear refusal to fulfill clear campaign pledges on the core matter of civil rights and has given no substantive, verifiable pledges or deadlines by which he can be held accountable. What that means, I'm afraid, is that this speech was highfalutin bullshit. There were no meaningful commitments within a time certain, not even a commitment to fulfilling them in his first term; just meaningless, feel-good commitments that we have no way of holding him to. Once the dust settles, ask yourself. What did he promise to achieve in the next year? Or two years? Or four years? The answer is: nothing.

TowleRoad: Obama also did not directly reference Question 1 in Maine or Referendum 71 in Washington state, two ballot measures that would remove rights from LGBT citizens on either coast, but offered broader promises to fight against the lies and divisiveness of foes of equality, suggesting that religion-based bigotry has no place in the national debate... The President discussed his commitment to gay and lesbian families, using as an example his invitation to allow them to roll Easter Eggs at the White House. (Videos of the speech here.)
Comment: shakespearean.. full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Comment: The word "putz" comes to mind. The man does not even have the balls to address Maine and Washington. What the hell good is he?
Washington Blade gave a synopsis of the speech and ended with a few positive comments and then this, from Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN): "[A]n opportunity was missed tonight. SLDN was disappointed the President did not lay out a timeline and specifics for repeal. The 65,000 gay and lesbian service members--who put their lives on the line and who remain impatient with the pace of progress--deserve to know when their commander in chief and Congress plan on getting rid of this law."

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