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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