Connect with us

Days Before Election, Is Obama Playing Politics With Gays?



One year ago, President Barack Obama delivered an address full of hope and promise at the Human Rights Campaign’s 2009 Annual Dinner, saying, “I’m here with a simple message: I’m here with you in that fight. For even as we face extraordinary challenges as a nation, we cannot — and we will not — put aside issues of basic equality.”

“Now, I’ve said this before, I’ll repeat it again — it’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago. But I will say this: We have made progress and we will make more.”

One year later, just two and a half weeks ago, the president sent his senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, to speak at HRC’s annual dinner.

This year, after a tenacious spring and disappointing summer, the Obama White House has, some would say, almost gone out of its way to antagonize voters from one of its steadfastly loyal constituencies, the gay community. News over the past few months that the administration’s Department of Justice would appeal federal court rulings that declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA,) and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT,) unconstitutional, along with the White House’s almost utter silence on the federal court ruling that found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional, have been met with sheer dismay, disappointment, and growing anger by the LGBT community and its supporters.

Before last week, when little more than lip service was paid — and by only the Department of Education — to news of a rash of anti-gay bullying-related teen suicides that gripped the nation, the gay community rose into anger — and action.

The growing perception throughout America that churches are partly to blame for gay teen suicides, along with many Americans finally equating the anti-gay statements and actions of some religious and so-called “pro-family” organizations with bullying and suicides, has led members of the gay community, a large percentage of whom have remained staunch Hillary Clinton supporters, to see the Secretary of State’s quick response and recent record on LGBT issues within her own domain, as a standard this White House has not met.

Even President’s Obama’s “It Gets Better” video to gay and questioning bullied and harassed teens felt to some as an important, albeit late, gesture, especially given that his Secretary of State had released her own video message days earlier. And when the Department of Justice filed for and received an emergency stay, effectively placing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” back into law on the same day as the first-ever and astonishingly, widely-observed “Spirit Day,” a day designed to honor LGBTQ teen suicide victims, many in the gay community took that as yet another example of a callous and tone-deaf administration.

(Of course, the fact that Secretary of State Clinton wore purple on Spirit Day to a Situation Room meeting in the White House, and the president did not, only helped to cement this perception in the minds of many.)

But could an Associated Press (AP) article, “Gay Voters Angry At Democrats Could Sway Election,” published Sunday afternoon, that spread rapidly throughout major media outlets, be responsible for the Obama White House finally waking up to a problem?

Late Monday night, word was leaked of a high-level legislative-strategy meeting Tuesday for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That meeting included several LGBT organizations, including HRC and the Log Cabin Republicans. Tuesday, the news was all over the Internet, along with varying degrees of support, skepticism, more skepticism, and analysis, depending on the source.

There has been a hush from all participants at Tuesday’s White House meeting, but rumor has it, as Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner reports, that “the president stopped by the meeting ‘to directly convey to the participants his personal commitment on this issue.’

“A person outside the White House familiar with the meeting agenda told Metro Weekly that there were three main points the White House was looking to impress upon attendees: (1) President Obama was pushing for lame-duck Senate action, (2) there would would more meetings up to the vote and (3) executive options are not being looked at right now.”

It is easy to feel a degree of ambivalence with this message, given earlier reports Tuesday, one via the Washington Blade, that “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday he’s unaware of any outreach the president has done in the Senate to advance “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal,” and another via Igor Volsky at Think Progress, again placing Gibbs at the center of attention when he “refused to say whether President Obama would be willing to use his stop-loss authority to end discharges under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should Congress fail to repeal the policy.”

But also Tuesday came another AP article, some might wonder if by way of an apology, titled, “Record number of openly gay officials serving in Obama administration.” (Wildly right-wing news outlet One News Now saw fit to re-write the piece as, “Obama most ‘gay’-friendly president in history.”) (Skepticism is truly in the eye of the beholder.)

Yet another pro-gay announcement came from the Administration Tuesday, although sources say it has been in the works for some time. The Department of Education announced a campaign to prevent anti-gay harassment and bullying. The Washington Post reported, “The Obama administration is launching a campaign to prevent anti-gay bullying and other harassment at school, advising educators that federal law protects students from many forms of discrimination.”

“The advisory from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, to be made public Tuesday, does not break new legal ground, officials said. But the officials described it as the federal government’s most comprehensive guidance to date on how civil rights law applies to the sort of campus situations that in some cases have led persecuted students to commit suicide. President Obama is expected to help promote the initiative.”

So, unlike other times when the Obama administration finally woke up to extreme unrest within the LGBTQ community, and miraculously found its way to regift some rights and provide a few tokens of appreciation, like extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees a year ago June, this time there is little new in the offing, but at least the message has been sent that gays matter. At least, a little. At least, for now.

Despite the confusing messages this administration continues to send, a few things are clear. The administration is trying, but needs to learn to explain its workings and processes, and work with groups, like the LGBT community, like labor, that support it more than many others. And equally clear: it’s time, despite all our frustration, to explain our frustration to this administration, not by not voting, and not by voting Republican, but by voting for Democrats who will be in position to speak our truth to power, and to vote for the change we need.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’



Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.

Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.

Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”

When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”

“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.

“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.

READ MORE: ‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert

But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.

He refused to answer.

Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.

“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”

At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.

Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.

But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”

The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.

At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

Continue Reading


‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert



The first of 19 co-defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ RICO and election interference case against Donald Trump has pleaded guilty in what is being described as a “plea deal.”

“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”

CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”

Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”

See the graphic above or at this link.


Continue Reading


Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report



With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.

“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.

NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”

A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.




Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.