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Melissa Harris Perry: Obama’s LGBT Rights Broken Campaign Promises

by David Badash on April 16, 2012

in Civil Rights,Discrimination,News,Politics

Post image for Melissa Harris Perry: Obama’s LGBT Rights Broken Campaign Promises

Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday explored candidate Barack Obama‘s 2008 campaign promise to include LGBT non-discrimination policies in an Obama White House — promises that this week were broken. Harris-Perry brought out Obama’s 2008 answers to a questionnaire from the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, promising to implement an LGBT non-discrimination policy. This week, the Obama administration stated it would not sign an executive order banning discrimination by employers with federal contracts.

As you can imagine, the LGBT community has been angered and disappointed — but in a sign of the community’s increasing influence and support, many straight allies and organizations have echoed our frustration.

Harris-Perry’s new MSNBC show is proving to be an excellent addition to the liberal cable news network’s lineup, and Sunday’s edition was no exception. At the roundtable were Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality, Kai Wright, editorial director at, Joy-Anne Reid, MSNBC Contributor and Managing Editor of, and Allison Kilkenny, reporter for The Nation.

Harris-Perry pointed out that the HUD ended anti-LGBT discrimination in housing just a month ago — without any religious exemptions, to boot — so why won’t Obama make that ruling consistent across all federal agencies?

Wright came out of the box noting that “this administration is not going to be a political leader” when it comes to LGBT rights. He noted later that “the Right will use LGBT issues as a divisive force in every single electoral cycle,” which makes the Obama administration’s lack of leadership “a problem.”

Calling the LGBT community “unfair,” Joy-Ann Reid noted that an executive order eliminating discrimination at federal contractors is not as easy as it sounds, and thinks the LGBT community needs to place the blame and responsibility on Congress, not on the President.

Keisling was impressively optimistic: “They didn’t say ‘No,’ they said, ‘No, not now’,” adding, “We hear ‘no’ all the time in trans activism, and ‘no’ don’t mean nothing.” Keisling added that “President Obama is going to be part of the solution.”

Later, Keisling made an excellent observation:

I think conservatives have done us a real real favor by attacking trans people, buy attacking LGBT people, because — I don’t know how else to say this — we’re part of who you defend if you’re a reasonable person.

Kilkenny noted that “anger’s a good thing” to motivate the base, and made the point — that I’ve been making for years — that Obama is not good at branding.

That’s why the GOP keeps controlling the conversation.


Note: Melissa Harris Perry continued the conversation on trans issues:

Watch: Melissa Harris-Perry Explores Being Transgender In America


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Kiltedbear April 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

I don't understand what people expect of him. To wave a magic wand? He nudged DADT to the point of being repealed. He told the DOJ to stop defending DOMA. To expect any more, especially on an election year is ridiculous. Anything more and any votes he would get from potential GOP fallout would disappear not to mention he didn't promise any concrete changes in his campaigns. There has been a lot of reading into what he supposedly has "promised".

Rsyk April 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I've not turned on any NBC channel since they hired Al Sharpton, but that Obama has broken his promises does not surprise me. His foremost priority is to get re-elected, and to do that he needs to pander to the masses as much as possible. Taking a stance on LGBT issues would polarize the independents he desperately needs, and honestly, he's not worried about winning the LGBT vote. He knows that most will vote for him for the sole fact that he's not a Republican, regardless of what he's actually done for the LGBT community.

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