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Obama Site Posts
Video of LGBT Meeting

Obama Site Posts
Video of LGBT Meeting

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The Obama transition website posted a video Wednesday of a meeting that took place December 10 between LGBT leaders and members of the transition team.

The Obama transition website posted a four-minute video Wednesday of a meeting that took place December 10 between LGBT leaders and members of the transition team in Washington D.C.

The meeting included high-level officials such as John Podesta, who is leading the transition, and Melody Barnes, another member of the transition team who has been tapped to lead the administration's domestic policy council.

"You have all built the [LGBT] movement and we join you in that," Podesta said, addressing the 40-some LGBT leaders, "and we have a president now who I think can lead a movement of openness and inclusion across the country."

A good portion of the two-hour meeting was devoted to presenting the transition team with LGBT candidates qualified to serve in the administration. None of this discussion is included in the video. What is shown are segments where LGBT leaders highlighted different policy concerns they had about federal legislation, the upcoming U.S. Census, and HIV/AIDS policy.

"I think a critically important communication from the administration and from President-elect Obama as we set out on a legislative agenda would be a clear communication about his desire to sign an inclusive hate-crimes bill in the early part to of his administration," said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese, "and his desire and really his mandate that he get a fully inclusive employment nondiscrimination bill early on in his administration."

Leonard Hirsch of Federal GLOBE, an advocacy group for federal LGBT employees, registered concern that the 2010 Census wasn't equipped to count LGBT people. As transition's LGBT public liaison Parag Mehta put it, "It's hard to talk about the needs of our community if government doesn't count our community."

Rebecca Haag of the AIDS Action Council stressed the overlapping interests of the African American and LGBT communities around HIV/AIDS.

"We're looking for issues in which we share a concern that the black community shares and that's HIV and AIDS," Haag said. "The nation's capital that we live in, one in every 20 people is infected with HIV. We are the most resourced country in the world and that's worse than the HIV-infection rate in Port-au-Prince, which is the capital of the poorest country in the Western hemisphere."

Other LGBT leaders present included Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Alexander Robinson of the National Black Justice Coalition, Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Chuck Wolfe of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Justin Nelson of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

On the transition side were several gay veterans of the Clinton administration: icon Roberta Achtenberg, who was the first openly gay person to ever be confirmed for a White House appointment; Elaine Kaplan, who served in Clinton's Office of Special Counsel; and Fred Hochberg, Clinton's deputy administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration who has now been appointed to head of the Export-Import Bank for President-elect Obama. (Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com)

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