BY Michelangelo Signorile
October 22 2009 1:40 PM ET
Sure, the gay groups gave the administration these and other items on a wish list back in January. But the timing of these announcements within days of the march is obvious. None of it is anything major nor, on the big issues, very definitive. But each time we’ve applied pressure we’ve gotten a little bit more out of them and they know they can’t hold us back.
The reason the administration can’t contain our discontent is less about this White House than it is about dramatic change in society, certainly since the last Democratic president was in office. With blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, satellite radio, 24-7 cable news and all the other new media, it’s impossible for establishment gay groups or prominent gay politicians to contain us.
In the Clinton years, HRC and Barney Frank defended the administration just as they are now. There is nothing new about the roles they’ve taken, but they can no longer effectively provide cover for the White House or the Democratic leadership. And let’s get something out of the way: No one, including me, is questioning their commitment to LGBT rights, just disagreeing with their strategy. Barney Frank is loyal to the Democratic Party and loyal to the president. But I’ve no doubt that he believes that that loyalty will pay off for us all.
Same with HRC, often pursing a strategy of access at all costs, including compromising on its beliefs and even going back on its word for the sake of politics. (Let’s not forget the group’s ENDA about-face, backing a bill in 2007 that cut out transgender people after president Joe Solmonese had once said the group would never support a bill that did so.) It’s a strategy, but one that many of us very much disagreed with at this time. It’s a strategy that many people who have worked and still work on Capitol Hill and in Democratic politics disagree with as well, as much as HRC and its supporters try to present the criticism of them as coming from out-of-the-Beltway know-nothings.
HRC has had a rough time since the beginning of the Obama administration, trying to figure out how to operate and how to utilize the grass roots and Net roots while also maintaining access. It’s been clumsy at best, disastrous at worst. Any objective critic would conclude the group has not seemed stable. It criticized the president early on regarding Rick Warren, only to fall in line as if bludgeoned by the White House. The group soon became a full-on apologist, with Solmonese going into a meeting with the administration last spring after concerns of White House inaction on LGBT rights mounted, and coming out and saying the White House had a “plan,” though he couldn’t tell us the details