‘There will be a reckoning in the gay movement in 2011’

Kevin Naff, former editor of the Washington Blade, and now the editor of DC Agenda, wrote an excellent summary, analysis, of Mike Signorile’s townhall meeting with gay leaders the other day. I apologize for excerpting so much of Kevin’s piece – please do read the entire thing – but it’s all very good, and thus very difficult to grab just a small bit:

Another kerfuffle erupted when Sarvis said he was excluded from a key White House meeting related to “Don’t Ask” repeal. Several HRC staffers reportedly attended the meeting; it appears that Sarvis wasn’t invited because he had publicly criticized the administration’s handling of the issue. Americablog’s John Aravosis, who was in the audience, angrily denounced Sarvis’ exclusion from the meeting during the radio event.

You can’t fault HRC for having White House access, but excluding experts from key meetings smacks of either petty turf wars or appeasement and pandering to an administration looking to retaliate against its critics. HRC shouldn’t have played along and instead insisted on bringing Sarvis.

As for Solmonese, he and his organization often sound out of touch with the average LGBT person. There is a palpable and growing anger with President Obama and the Democrats in Congress and HRC would be wise to recognize it and respond appropriately. Solmonese, for example, should have apologized for the Griffin rally — it was a sorry exercise in star-f—— that had no place in the serious debate over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that has destroyed the careers of 13,000 brave American service members.

We have listened to the many promises made by Democrats since 2006, supported them with money and votes and waited patiently for Obama to tackle the economy, health care and other priorities before getting around to LGBT concerns. But time is running out. The Democrats will lose seats in both houses come November, giving them a handy excuse to avoid LGBT issues until after the 2012 elections.

It’s true that the Obama administration has advanced LGBT equality via various rule changes and executive orders, including the recent letter sent to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services endorsing hospital visitation rights for LGBT couples. It’s also true that HRC doesn’t get the credit it deserves for pushing behind the scenes for those changes.

But with wide Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and a supportive Democratic president, the bar was set much higher. If ENDA dies, as many are predicting, and “Don’t Ask” repeal is delayed by endless studies, there will be a reckoning in the movement in 2011. We haven’t heard a peep about repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, something Obama repeatedly and emphatically promised to do during his campaign. The Uniting American Families Act and other high-profile legislative priorities remain in limbo.

Meanwhile, too many of our so-called “activists” are too concerned with currying favor, preserving access and pursuing administration jobs to stand up to a president and a party that take LGBT support for granted.

That last point is something that has particularly bothered both Joe and me. Far too many of the gay “leaders” publicly defending the Obama administration’s lackluster record on gay civil rights either run lobbying firms with interests before the administration, or are looking for administration jobs. It’s readily transparent, it’s the same people every time. They are defending the administration for their own personal gain, at the expense of your civil rights.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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