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Celebrating and pushing the Obama White House


By Adam Bink

Starting at about 49 minutes, 30 seconds in this video, UPenn law professor (and Obama campaign adviser) responds to the question at a White House panel, “What has the President done for LGBT equality? Why hasn’t he done more? Does his position on marriage equality make everything else unimportant?”

I’ll point to Rick Jacobs’ op-ed in The Advocate as a response:

Which leads back to the White House reception Wednesday afternoon. I want President Obama to win reelection. But I also want him to advocate even more forcefully for full equality as we head into electoral silly season, and that means firmly and clearly endorsing the Respect for Marriage Act, as over 18,000 Courage members have called on him to do. Yes, he has disappointed on the public option, the war in Afghanistan, taxes for the wealthy, and fulfillment of full equality, among other issues. On the other hand, we have the first health care reform in nearly 50 years, imperfect as it is. We are virtually out of Iraq, and we’re finally beginning to get out of Afghanistan — slowly, but we’re starting. And in weeks, DADT will be history. And now the president is on record for raising taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year. That will have to happen in 2012, not 2013.

I get impatient and even angry sometimes because I want this president to stand up and declare, not straddle. Yet I have to look at what the process of the Obama administration means to LGBT people. We have an entire administration that does not flinch from making our lives better and that works to do so every day.

Celebrate, and push. Not either/or.


  • 1. Ann S.  |  July 6, 2011 at 6:51 am


  • 2. asiesamigo  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:21 am

    President Obama's refusal to support Equality in Marriage may be due to his perception that it will cost him lots of votes and possibly the election. Therefore, I suggest we let him off the hook on this one.
    What would you rather have: a Republcan as our next president or President Obama who is supporting us on every issue with the exception of marriage itself?

  • 3. Angela  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I have to agree with you there. He can't endorse marriage equality at this time because of the election. If he gets re-elected we can try to get him to support it… But till then, I gotta say we should be "grateful" for what we do have… Because like you implied, a Republican would take it all away.

  • 4. Adam Bink  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

    The conventional wisdom that icky gay marriage will cost him re-election is far overblown. What data can you provide to make a case for this point?

  • 5. AnonyGrl  |  July 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm


    Sadly, I think I would fall back on NOM's stats of how many states have voted to put anti-equality laws on the books. We are winning this war bit by bit through the courts and legislatures, but as of yet, we are only winning in the court of public opinion polls, not in the voting booth.

    Yes, I do think there is growing support, but this has not been proven in an election yet, and I think that sometimes, "conventional wisdom", while not the noblest of courses, may be the safer route to follow.

  • 6. Cat  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

    It seems that Obama has done more for equality through concrete action than through verbal statements. Usually politicians talk a lot of big talk, but decisive actions are rare. The way the defense of DOMA are now handled by the DOJ is surprisingly concrete and supportive. I'm not so sure DADT repeal would be where it is without support from Obama. I'll choose that over rhetoric any day, and certainly Obama over an evangelical Republican…

  • 7. Lawrence  |  July 6, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I agree with Cat that this is probably more about successful actions and not just re-election. See my long coment below. The attack on DOMA is amazing and would not be helped by "statements of support" that just generate confusing knee-jerk opposition.

  • 8. LCH  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:49 am

    It's a complicated dance that the Pres. is doing with us. As frustrated as I am with what I think is a lack of backbone on a lot of issues besides equality, I don't think we have any choice but to reelect him. Just look at the results of the mid-term elections where a lot of Democrats and Progressives sat out the election to "punish" congress and the President. It's a mess in places like Wisconsin and other states where the Republicans gained control of the legislature. Everyone's rights, especially women's and LGBT rights are under attack in these places. If a Republican wins the presidency I'm moving to Canada.


  • 9. AnonyGrl  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I would tend to agree with you on the Canada move if a Republican wins… but since NY joined the growing ranks of marriage equality states I am feeling somehow more hopeful and I think that I will stick around here fight to hold our position until further advances can be made. Each time the pendulum swings back to the conservative side, the distance it travels is slightly less, and each time it swings back to the liberal, the distance is slightly more. I will hold out for the more. 🙂

  • 10. Angela  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Oddly enough, before the primary midterm elections, I researched the candidates in my state (PA) to find out which stood for equality, and I distinctly remember BEWARE PAT TOOMEY in the article (I think it was from GLAD) and I read his quotes and was so shocked. I was THIS CLOSE to voting for him, but that obviously was the dealbreaker. Now, a friend of mine voted for Toomey, and I said You do realize that he believes homosexuality and pedophilia are the same thing? and I told her the quotes I read from him and she was HORRIFIED! She said that she would never have voted for him if she'd known that… But LGBT rights are not a big issue here in PA unfortunately, so it was never publicized here that I knew of, so the general public most likely didn't have any clue about that just like my friend.

  • 11. Ronnie  |  July 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Subscribing & sharing……

    NOM takes silly cheap shot at Gov. Cuomo's mother

    Gov. Cuomo's mother praised her son for getting marriage equality passed in New York, so the so called "moral" people at NOM felt the need to lob out puerile shots about her…..stay classy NOMbies…… : / …Ronnie

  • 12. AnonyGrl  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I actually had a totally different take on Lasagna-Gate… I thought that it showed that NOM could laugh at itself, and it looked like the first HUMAN thing I had ever seen out of them.

    I even said so on their page. That their FOLLOWERS did some blowing up about it was sad, but the original post from NOM read to me like they actually were trying to make a little silly noise that was not really an attack, more of an "ah well, lost this one, moving on…" sort of thing. Maybe I was wrong, but I am going to live in the delusion that they were trying to be lighthearted. 🙂

  • 13. AnonyGrl  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Well, ok… my original post on the NOM blog got deleted… but I posted it again. 🙂

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

    deleted again it seems… wouldn't it be nice if NOM was as proactive about finding out truth/facts/knowledge as they are about deleting comments…

  • 15. Gregory in SLC  |  July 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

    ‘You’re Making Me the Bride?’ a Hiccup for Gay Unions

    Calif. lawmakers OK bill to add gay, lesiban figures to textbooks

  • 16. PBJ  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

  • 17. PBJ  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Oops! Wrong link.

  • 18. Maggie4NoH8  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I too get frustrated, but then I remind myself of the alternatives (personally, I am hoping for a Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012)!

    I honestly believe in this President. I have more faith every day that he is not only the right person to "fix" the mess that Dubyah left the country in, but also the right person to lead us into the future – even after he leaves the White House. I believe he is a humble man, that knows how to "pull" the country/world rather than "push" the country/world. He is thoughtful. He is intelligent. He is rationale.

    I *LIKE* that he told Rick Jacobs there is "process" at the White House… that means he is working on the "why's" with people, not the "how's". I don't personally know the man and what type of father he is, but I'd be willing to bet he's never told his children "because I said so, that's why" without explanation.

    I believe Obama sets a direction, and lets lets others get there in their own way. He'd be the kind of boss that asks for a final work product, not caring how you go about doing the grunt work to produce, but available for advice/assistance if you got stuck.

    I like that he sets things in motion, and lets the Senate/House hash things out (with many of them showing their ass along the way), staying out of the fray. Obama doesn't stoop to politics, antics, sound-bites – and the republicans, bless their hearts, just trip over themselves in stupidity waiting for the tit-for-tat from him…

    Yes Mother, patience is a virtue… This President has achieved more substance in 2 1/2 years in office than any other President has in my lifetime, so I'll give him all the time he needs to set the foundation for LGBT equality.

    It wouldn't surprise me (if he set out to do so) if he could even get Brian and Maggie to think marriage equality was *their* idea… Yeah, that's a pretty big statement, I know, but I have that much respect for the man.

  • 19. 415kathleenk  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:08 am

    NOM hasnever been classy so why should we expect that now? Here is San Jose Mercury News- whose coverage of LGBT issues is excellent BTW on Obama and marriage equality

  • 20. Maggie4NoH8  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Exactly! I wholeheartedly agree with this editorial… Thanks 415kathleenk!

  • 21. Lawrence  |  July 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I find myself readjusting from my period of "disillusionment" and I am really starting to respect Obama's pragmatic step by step approach to equality, even if it is annoying as heck and causes one to wonder about standing up visibly for moral principles. But I am now seeing that he is aggressively focused on getting things done in a highly contentious political environemt where big public statements may not achieve this. I don't think this is just about re-election, although that's a factor, I think its about achieving the next steps. This is the position of the Mercury News editorial cited above and also Rick Jacobs' "process" article. The turning point for me was reading the DoJ Golinksi briefing filed last Friday (discussed in other threads, but not enough yet in my opinion). I think this is game changing – not only showing a really aggressive in-BLAGs-face attack on DOMA but also simultaneously working to establish sexual orientation as a suspect class, which would impact everything if it is accepted and judged on at appellate and eventually SC level (always rolling the dice there). Obama is saying that without DOMA being destroyed, these gains in NY or anywhere else are not complete. Destroying DOMA is about equality under the law, fairness, heightened scrutiny, and states rights. It DOES NOT in fact require Obama to take a position at this stage on whether all states should allow same sex marriage; so I think he is saying, why do this and create all kinds of backlash when the next goal has to be to destroy DOMA? In fact, taking an "official federal position" at this stage on same sex marriage is directly counter to the arguments for destroying DOMA that state marriage licenses and laws should not federally overruled. In a similar way, voicing public support for "gay marriage" would not have helped DADT votes in the US Senate, and would not have helped four NY state senators do the right thing if that also meant agreeing with Obama. I believe Obama may well have learned from the last president who made all sorts of public statements about support but then was completely outmanouvered by the political backlash from this that he was the one to sign both DADT and DOMA into law. Statements of "support" are useless if this does not allow you to win. Now this may all be "morally wimpy" but it's giving me back my enthusiasm for actively working for "four more years".

  • 22. AnonyGrl  |  July 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    part 2

    That being said… I think that the vote against anti-equality candidates may go more strongly in our favor this time around. In New York, that happened after the 2009 vote on the marriage equality bill, which helped to prove public support. Remember, however, that fear is a bigger motivator than equailty, politically speaking. I think much of the time people are elected because the voters voted AGAINST the other guy. But that cuts both ways, and if the opposition gets out a bigger "we hate that guy" vote than we do, they win. And the truth is, Obama coming out strongly in favor of marriage equality would bring out a lot of "we hate that guy" votes, which he may not be able to afford. Consider the judges who were removed from the bench. That was entirely on a "we hate that guy" vote; they were good judges, with good records and good ratings removed entirely because of their support of equality.

  • 23. Bob  |  July 6, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Well said Lawerence, and Maggie4NoH8, actions speak louder than words,,,, I'm much happier with all the actions Obama has taken, than to have him state publicly his position on marriage ,,,,,,, so much has happened for the LGBT community under Obama's watch,,,, and much of that has been us tuning into listening to his direction's ,,,,, as opposed to us demanding public statements from him,,,,, he's a leader,,, and he's headed toward EQUALITY,,,,,, marriage is a single issue,,, EQUALITY,, encompasses a broader scope,,, and will eventulally result in marriage EQUALITY,,,, he's always been working the CIVIL RIGHTS issue………..

  • 24. Lawrence  |  July 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    And I am saying that's more than just "actions speak louder than words" – it's that "the wrong words will prevent the actions". This is what I think Obama's "winking" and "evolving" is all about. Publicly saying "The executive branch supports and will actively work for marriage equality in all states" would actually completely gum up the DOMA destruction. The repugs, NOM and theocrats would then be able to turn the whole discussion into a furious and irrelevant smoke-screen war about "destroying marriage", "breaking all traditions", "procreation", "harming children", and "attacking religions" that is far far away from the focused legal constitutionality and ideally congressional actions that will actually end DOMA. Finding DOMA to be unconstitutional, as well as disgraceful, does not require the marriage discussion – it's about people who are already married, who are then directly discriminated against purely because of sexual orientation. So it's the first necessary step (and everyone who hasn't should read the DoJ Golinski brief – it is awesome). And in there the suspect status argument is then a huge put-up for the next basket :). I think the guy knows what he is doing…

  • 25. Andrew  |  July 8, 2011 at 4:31 am

    If you are going to vote for him anyway, why would he listen to you on any issue? He panders to independants and republicans precisely because he already has your vote.

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