The White House Office of Missed Opportunity

While President Obama traveled abroad, the marriage-equality landscape underwent a tectonic shift. But his administration is still too firmly rooted in last year's campaign mode to absorb the change.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 06 2009 11:00 PM ET

I don't know about you,
but I'm ready to see a supercharged supernerd in the vein of
budget director Peter Orszag inject a little inspiration into
the Obama administration on LGBT issues in the same way he has
transformed the budgetary process. Without getting too wonkish
here, Orszag's singular vision has cast health care costs --
which have traditionally been left off budget spreadsheets
entirely -- as the linchpin to balancing the federal budget
over the next decade and for generations to come.

Brilliant! Take
something that was once routinely excluded and reframe its
inclusion as both fundamental and essential. Not only is this
inspired, it also provides health care reform a fighting
chance. (Veterans of the Clinton's overhaul effort often say
that not budgeting funds for reform doomed the proposal before
it ever got out the door.)

Look, let's be
realistic -- no one expects President Obama to come out for
marriage equality. But for a President that has boldly
passed the largest stimulus in our country's history, upped our
troop commitment in Afghanistan, canned the CEO of a major
American company, and reached out to the Muslim
world well within the bounds of his first 100 days,
it's almost mystifying to think his administration sent out a
statement that read more like they were defending their
marriage stance than marking the moment.

A couple weeks ago,
Defense secretary Robert Gates told Fox News that he and the
president had a full plate and repealing "don't ask, don't
tell" would have to wait. It's a message that some LGBT
leaders have also subscribed to -- there's a lot going on, so
gays must wait for their rights.

Sometimes, the culture
pushes forward even when politicians aren't ready for it.
Last week, the middle of the country gave mainstream cred to
supporting marriage equality. This week, Vermont made equal
protection a legislative ideal as much as a judicial one.

If President Obama and
his top generals are too busy to take on LGBT issues, then the
time is right for someone with the vision and rank to find a
contemporary groove on our issues -- someone with a little
Orszag touch. And if that person existed already, the statement
issued last Friday would not have struck such a discordant note
with the vibe of the day.

Tags: Politics

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