BY Michelangelo Signorile
October 22 2009 1:40 PM ET
The White House scrambled in other ways too, among them naming an openly gay ambassador to New Zealand. Nothing big, but evidence of a scramble and our pressure working. Even Barney Frank’s actions, coming on my radio program and declaring the march “useless” a few days before it happened, were an indication of our success. I don’t believe he truly thinks marches are “useless” (and he later clarified this on Joy Behar’s show, after the march), but he was willing to take some hits — and perhaps even lose some fund-raising dollars from angry gays and lesbians across the country — in order to show his loyalty to the administration, attempting to give the White House some cover.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, feeling the pressure, sent his own letters to the administration, demanding action on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” endorsed the march in a letter to organizers, and met with the organizers to talk about issues. Within days of the march, Reid confirmed that he, a Mormon, told the march organizers that it was harmful and wrong that his church backed California’s Proposition 8.
That same week we got the news from the highest-ranking openly gay official, John Berry in the Office of Personnel Management, that the White House is talking to Joe Lieberman about leading the repeal of DADT We’re hearing that it might happen next spring. There’s also buzz that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be voted on in House by year’s end and signed by the beginning of next year, on the heels of the hate-crimes bill’s passage. And after The Advocate inquired about antigay ballot measures in Maine and Washington, the White House put out a statement condemning antigay referenda (They didn’t mention the two states specifically, again being very reticent, but still, we can use this statement to our advantage).
A week after the march, a Justice Department official gave a speech saying that protecting LGBT people will be very much a part of the civil rights division’s mission, and Obama nominated an openly lesbian Minneapolis police sergeant as a U.S. marshal. A week and half after the march, the Housing and Urban Development secretary announced that HUD programs will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Health and Human Services Secretary announced a grant to create a resource center for LGBT seniors.