View to Washington: Bill and Barack
BY Kerry Eleveld
July 17 2009 12:00 AM ET
Instead, President Obama has spent more time sowing the seeds of unity abroad than he has here at home. The paucity of inclusive words has been palpable, in part, because they flowed so freely on the trail. In speech after speech, whether in stadiums, gyms, or homes, candidate Obama repeatedly dared to speak our name, weaving us into the fabric of America's greater conscience.
But the promise of last November for LGBT people is still just that, a promise. Surely, that's the reality Christine Quinn was keenly aware of when she gave a different type of speech in New York this week, to a small audience in the privacy of a living room.
Quinn passed up promise for action in her remarks. She recounted visiting the White House on St. Patrick's Day and introducing herself to the president as the first Irish, female, and gay speaker of the New York City Council. Quinn asked him to advance LGBT issues and, in particular, to keep an eye on some Defense of Marriage Act challenges that were just hitting the radar in March.
"He kept saying, 'Don't worry. By the end of my term, you'll be happy.' Well, it's not actually about being happy. And I'm not going to wait till the end of anything," she told people assembled at the fund-raiser for the LGBT March on Washington in October.
For those of you who don't know Speaker Quinn, she's the second-most powerful person in New York City (behind Michael Bloomberg, of course) and a seasoned politician who navigates the brass knuckles of the city with aplomb. Her remarks were notable for their candor and forcefulness, which were surely rooted in the political meltdown she witnessed this year.
"What we want is results and we want them now and we don't want to be told any longer that we have to wait," she said. "'Cause look, in Albany they said they couldn't do marriage at the beginning of the session, they had to get other business done. And now, it's exploded in Albany. If they kept their promise on day one like they said, we wouldn't be where we are."