Constructive Impatience

Stung by the Warren decision, GLAAD's former executive director Joan Garry offers the Obama transition team some sage advice.  

BY Joan Garry

December 30 2008 1:00 AM ET

Unlike my
partner, I am not angry. I'm just plain perplexed. For a
team that has had flawless execution, what gives?

I have come to
believe that the team needs some help. A very smart friend
of mine e-mailed me yesterday. She said:

"We can't let the
right wing co-opt yet another good and well-meaning
Democratic president. That is our responsibility. The poor
dupes never know what hits them until after it is
done. Barack will only be different if we stay
connected to him and smart."

Best e-mail I've
gotten in a long time.

So with that as a
very lengthy preamble, here are three ideas:

1) Hurry up and
hire some gay people.

Our community has
been working since February to pull together
résumés. Jim Messina told a group of LGBT
leaders that our process has been a model for other
constituent groups to follow. I've seen the
résumés. I serve on the board of advisers of this
Presidential Appointment Project.
The Obama administration would be lucky to have any
number of these folks. And the administration needs
their voices. The more diverse the voices around the
table, the fewer missteps.

2) White House
Initiative on LGBT Americans

In 1999, Bill
Clinton created a White House Initiative on Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders. #13125 to be
exact.
The goal? "Increase participation of Asian
Americans and Pacific Islanders in federal programs."
Talk to some of those who were engaged in that effort
nearly a decade ago. It worked and it paid off.

So, now think
about all of the federal programs that have relevance to
LGBT Americans. From health care to AIDS to employment to
family issues. The list goes on and on and on. A
coordinated effort might be the only way to integrate
us fully into the fabric of federal programs designed to
benefit ALL Americans. The Obama administration eschews
constituency politics and avoids thinking of people in
unique silos. Conceptually, I love that -- I want to
be considered in my totality, not just as a gay
American. However, I believe that an initiative like this
would in fact be one that would bring us together.

Tags: Politics

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