View From the Hill: The Dems
BY Kerry Eleveld
June 19 2009 12:00 AM ET
As the White House fought to combat criticism of the brief and appease the community, what they didn't realize was that the DOMA outcry was merely a lightning rod for months of bumbling and snubbing and tiptoeing around LGBT issues altogether. The combination of watching Robert Gibbs dodge all manner of LGBT-related questions for months, seeing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones freelance a bunch of answers about kicking "don't ask, don't tell" down the road, and then, ultimately, having the president himself completely disregard the pain and anger of thousands of gay Californians who had just been denied their constitutional rights by a bare majority of voters -- it all added up to one thing: infuriation.
As longtime LGBT activist David Mixner told National Public Radio, "I've had enough! I'm 63 years old and I want to know what it's like to have all the rights and privileges of other Americans before I die."
And then we witnessed something that we have perhaps never witnessed within the course of our march for justice. Democrats extended a hand and the LGBT movement -- from big-dollar establishment donors to the grassroots troops of door knockers, phone bankers, and true believers -- turned its proverbial back.
Within the course of this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held a hate-crimes press conference and pledged to try to pass the bill by August; Rep. Barney Frank readied to introduce a trans-inclusive ENDA; President Obama held a televised LGBT-specific signing ceremony in the Oval Office in which he recommitted himself to repealing DOMA; both Gibbs and Reid said repealing DADT could happen this congress; the administration announced that it's seeking to include gay couples in the 2010 Census; and, on Friday, the Department of Justice agreed to meet with lawyers who are challenging DOMA on behalf of same-sex couples.
All the while, a steady stream of usually dependable Democratic stalwarts dropped out of a normally prestigious and well-attended LGBT DNC fund-raiser being hosted by Vice President Joe Biden on June 25 -- David Mixner, blogger Andy Towle, the Human Rights Campaign's Marty Rouse, former Clinton adviser Richard Socarides, millionaire Bruce Bastian, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders attorney Mary Bonauto, and the National Stonewall Democrats, to name a few.
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