August 14, 2009

Should the LGBT Community Trust Obama?

Joe Solomonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, trusts Obama. Solomonese explained why you trust both him and Obama in an interview with religion writer Dan Gilgoff for the U. S. News & World Report:

Q: President Obama hasn't moved on promises to overturn "don't ask, don't tell" or the Defense of Marriage Act. Has he fulfilled his pledge to be a "fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans"?
A: There have certainly been some glaring moments of insensitivity. The choice of Rick Warren, the language in the administration's court briefing defending DOMA—that has been incredibly disappointing. Having said that, this administration has worked side by side with us to get the hate crimes bill on his desk. They are laying groundwork on everything from expanding the federal government's nondiscrimination policy to cover transgender employees to ending the ban on HIV-positive people coming into the country.

Q: How confident are you that Obama will overturn don't ask, don't tell?
A: I'm certain. The president has made the commitment, and people working for the president that we work with have made the commitment. I have no doubt it will be overturned.

Q: So you think LGBT complaints of White House foot-dragging are unfair?
A: I don't see them dragging their feet. But where the LGBT community is feeling frustration is that the road map and timetable have not been made as clear to them. Sometimes there is simply the need for reassurance from the president. I've seen a great deal less frustration since the president spoke on June 29 [the Stonewall anniversary] and recommitted to [our] issues. And the president signed the memo expanding the nondiscrimination policy for federal employees and calling on Congress to give him a bill extending healthcare benefits to domestic partners. It's probably as frustrating to him and his administration that things are not moving as quickly as we would like.

Q: How do you respond to gay activists who say you're carrying the president's water?
A: With a community as diverse as the LGBT community, there is little one can do that isn't going to be met with criticism from somebody. A lot of that has to do with frustration of being woefully behind in securing a fundamental set of benefits and a fundamental sense of equality. But I also have a very clear road map and a plan of how this is going to get done.

Q: What do you think of the tactic of some gay activists who out purportedly gay politicians who are working against gay causes?
A: Any closeted gay person who votes against the interests of gay people and is outed because of it is getting what they deserve. My only concern is that sometimes the sensational aspect of outing somebody gets us to lose sight of just what it is that was so bad about them. And they get drummed out of office and are replaced by somebody who is just as bad.

Click here to read much more in the rest of the interview.

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