Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gay Leaders To Be Feted at White House?

This is pretty outrageous. In the midst of all the anger from LGBT people over the DOMA brief and the inadequate response -- so far -- by the Obama administration, gay lobbyists, executive directors and assorted others who comprise what is identified as the gay leadership apparently have been invited to a party at the White House thrown just for them.

It's another photo-op in which everyone -- the president and the gays -- can look happy and like they're having fun, but more so, it's a way for the White House to wank off the gay leaders a bit while still not delivering. None of them should fall for it -- and that means they should not attend this event -- most all the Human Rights Campaign. We don't want cocktails for high-paid gay and lesbian lobbyists and executive directors looking to schmooze and feel important. We want action on our rights, and at this point it means DOMA and DADT.

The signing of the memorandum by the president to give some benefits to some federal employees was a crumb, which, as I wrote last week, should have been a gesture made five months ago. Nonetheless, unlike some others, I believed it was appropriate for Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign to be there, along with other LGBT leaders. It was business: The president was signing an order to benefit some LGBT people (in addition to a few partner benefits for some gay and lesbian federal workers he signed an anti-discrimination order banning discrimination in federal hiring based on gender identity). I think they should be there, be cordial, and let the president know it's not nearly enough.

I know some people think Obama should not have been given the photo-op, but really, the story of anger by gays was already out there and wasn't about to be changed by that event. In fact, the next day, the story line in the media was along the lines of "president offers some little thing but gays just are not happy and are in fact more angry." So the photo-op did nothing, but LGBT leaders kept the dialogue open by going, which they should.

But now, a cocktail party? No, that's not business -- it's schmoozing and sucking up, and it's all about buying off gay leaders by seducing them, very cheaply, so the White House can help get the money coming back in, since the DNC gay fundraiser for next week is collapsing. The response so far has only been about the money and it's not nearly enough.

What we need now is real action. Not these crumbs, whether it be the census inclusion or some benefits for federal employees. We need something big, and until then, the DNC fundraisers should continue to be threatened, and nobody among the gay leadership should be partying with this president.