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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Obama's Speech at HRC Dinner

Posted by on Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 6:20 PM

My reaction: a friend has been sending me ecstatic emails about the speech. I just watched it—the speech is every bit as good as the ones candidate Obama gave, as the performance candidate Obama delivered at the HRC/Logo Democratic Primary Debate, as the open letter to the LGBT community that candidate Obama released before last November's election. Imagine all the wonderful things this guy is going to accomplish if he ever actually gets elected president. In other words: sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service. Other reactions...

John at Americablog:

Barack Obama just promised us that if he becomes president, he's going to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and get ENDA passed. It was a bit surreal. I'm sitting at a fundraiser for the Non on 1 effort in Maine (that Obama didn't even bother to mention), and we were all just speechless (actually, hardly speechless - and I thought yelling at the TV was long since over). Obama repeated his campaign promises. That was it.

What's particularly disturbing is how President Obama contradicts himself, and his own administration, when talking to a gay crowd. The president claimed that he's for treating gay couples just like married couples. Then why is he against letting gay couples marry? The president claimed that it doesn't matter if we're at war and working on health care and lots of other important issues, we must forget ahead on gay civil rights. Then why is Obama's own administration putting out the talking point that they can't move ahead on gay rights until the wars are over, until health care is over, until Obama has less on his plate? Even General Jones last week said we can't do DADT because we're at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But President Obama claimed today that precisely because we're at war it is important to lift the ban now.


Sullivan live-bloggin' it:

This is bullshit.... Again, more of a campaign speech. I've called on Congress to repeal DOMA. Does he think we're fools? He has done nothing to advance this.... His major achievement - the one thing he has actually done—is invite gay families to the Easter egg-roll.... More campaign boilerplate. This speech could have been made—and was made—a year ago.

Andy at Towleroad:

Obama also did not directly reference Question 1 in Maine or Referendum 71 in Washington state, two ballot measures that would remove rights from LGBT citizens on either coast, but offered broader promises to fight against the lies and divisiveness of foes of equality, suggesting that religion-based bigotry has no place in the national debate.

Here's part one of video (via Towleroad).

Part two after the jump.


Comments (35) RSS

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eastcoastreader 1
talk, talk, talk, motherfucker, DO something!!!
Posted by eastcoastreader on October 10, 2009 at 6:51 PM · Report this
David K 2
wait, he did mention Stonewall....

Posted by David K on October 10, 2009 at 6:52 PM · Report this
But... there's Bill Clinton's example from 1993 to make us all a'feared! If he actually DID anything, the right wing might be NASTY to him!

Not like now, when they're just comparing him to Hitler, accusing, him of planning mass euthanasia of old people, and making barely-veiled calls for revolution and assassination. You know - REALLY nasty.
Posted by Pope Buck I on October 10, 2009 at 7:56 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 9
It amazes me that anyone can write such bad poetry and with the same pen suggest one American should settle for Jell-O while other Americans get Pudding! I want pudding!
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 10, 2009 at 8:24 PM · Report this
So in the first vid at 7:45 could this be something to use in an ad in Washington or Maine?

"You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman."
Posted by cgd on October 10, 2009 at 8:25 PM · Report this
David K 11
That's the finest post I've read in years. I'm feeling misty and yet acutely awake, startled, dazed. WHO ARE YOU 'no one should have to settle for jello. ever'?
Posted by David K on October 10, 2009 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Oh they'll get nasty with him whether he does anything or not. Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck are all going to pull this video footage out whenever they want to send the extremists into a tizzy.

Bill Clinton got heckled not that long ago at a talk by someone who wanted to know why he DADT'ed and DOMA'd on us. He said it was because we didn't get him enough support in the Congress-he tried to introduce the legislation to lift the ban, but Congress wasn't having it.

Well, if we just sit on our asses and don't put some pressure on our legislators, the same thing'll happen again. Ask yourselves this: What if the Murphy Bill or Gillibrand's Bill die on the Senate or House floor? What if the Matt Sheppard Act doesn't pass in the Senate? What if ENDA dies on the Senate floor? Harry Reed (D-NV), the weak-kneed Senate Majority leader said he could not find a single sponsor for a bill to repeal DOMA. There is a very distinct possibility that none of these bills will even get to Obama's desk.

Now, I'll grant you that he hasn' gone in front of Congress and asked them to send him bills on any of this. Had he, things might be moving along a lot faster than they are. Harry Reed himself is a pretty weak leader-he's got a 60-seat majority, something the GOP did not have when it was ramming through all of Bush's legislation. But he can't find one sponsor out of all 100 of them-not even from the pro-GLBT Senators like Franken or Gillibrand? Its a little hard to believe.

But this situation is not dissimilar to what Martin Luther King had to deal with to get the Civil Rights Act passed. LBJ tried to put him off and tell him, "Oh, I support you 100%, but I've got too much on my plate right now, why don't you come back in a few more years, or at least wait till after the election?". MLK wouldn't let him off that easy. he went down to Selma and risked getting killed from thrown bricks and debris, knowing that the TV stations would put images of that snarling mob up on every TV in America, forcing people to face up to what they'd rather ignore.

Now, Cleve Jones has organized this march, and its a start. However, this can't turn into yet another Gay Pride rally where we all turn up for one day and then go home and forget about it. We have to provide the leadership both Obama and Reed aren't going to provide. Much like MLK, we have to motivate people to call their legislators and demand that they do something. This means we have to take some risks, dangerous ones like what the civil rights marchers faced. These days, in this segmented media world, where everyone gets their news from just one or maybe two stations that narrowcast to their specific political views, its harder to break through than it was for MLK. We're going to have to at least be as persistent as he was, probably moreso. We're going to ahve to be creative, and we're going to have to be bold. We need leadership, real leadership.

One thing I've noticed about other communities that had to break through is they have and have had actual leaders, people they could point to and say, "That person represents us" The labor movement had Bill Haywood and Joe Hill. Women has Susan B Anthony. Hispanic farm workers had Ceasar Chaves. Black people have had everybody from WEB Dubois to Marcus Garvey to MLK and Malcom X to Huey Newton to Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama. All the4se groups had spokespeople.

Who speaks for us? Who speaks for the GLBT community? I don't mean faceless organizations or groups. I mean, is there one face you can point to and say, This person is a prominent leader in the GLBT community?

Harvey Milk is dead. We need someone who can speak for us today, one of the living. Dan, are you listening?
Posted by DaveB on October 10, 2009 at 8:54 PM · Report this
Things take time, waaaah.
Posted by Doctor Professor on October 10, 2009 at 9:50 PM · Report this
seandr 19
So, it appears that Obama isn't prepared to risk his broader first and second term agendas for a fast repeal of DATD and DOMA.

My interpretation of this speech is that he's thinking ahead to 2012, and he has calculated that taking on these issues now will lose him some moderate voters and possibly that election. At the same time, he is counting on gay-friendly voters to rally around him because the alternative will be much worse, and more importantly, because it will be understood that as a second term president, he can take on controversial issues such as this because he isn't beholden to the same political pressures that he is now. He's a smart guy, with smart advisers - they've got to be thinking these things through.

Is he being too timid? Maybe, maybe not, no one really fucking knows. However, here's what we do know. The downside of inaction is that we'll have to wait another 3 years for these measure to go away. However, the potential downside of action is that Republicans will resume gang raping our country in 2012, and they will certainly roll back any gay rights Obama managed to win in his single term.

I guess you all don't really believe in this guy. I do.
Posted by seandr on October 10, 2009 at 10:01 PM · Report this
Focusing back on Ref. can't be very helpful that Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is running this commercial on Husky Football Games:…
Posted by Timothy on October 10, 2009 at 10:08 PM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 21
i only want to hear the speech he makes after he does something..and until then i'm not listening to anymore speechifying on the subject.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on October 10, 2009 at 10:09 PM · Report this
seandr 22
BTW - I spend a lot of time posting comments here. I guess I've assumed that y'all at The Stranger actually read and value at least some of them. It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps you don't, in which case, what the fuck am I doing?

Would be nice to know either way.
Posted by seandr on October 10, 2009 at 10:09 PM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 26
@ 14 - There's a point when it stops being whining and crosses into outrage. That point has passed. I never thought I would be this pissed off at a Democratic administration. Yes, it's over this one issue, and yes, the plate, oh God, the plate!

I'd be more forgiving if it weren't for that piece of shit briefing the Justice Dept gave in defending DOMA. That told me all I need to know about the Obama admin's level of commitment to LGBT equality. (You NEVER would have heard shit like that from the Clinton admin Justice Dept)

And this after he said in the campaign that these things (repeal of DOMA & DADT, etc.) would get done political reality be damned. And I don't see that happening right now.

Obama still has a chance to make me and millions of other GLBT folks happy campers, but he's gonna have to earn it.
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on October 10, 2009 at 10:21 PM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 27
@ 22 - I appreciate your comments, Sean.
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on October 10, 2009 at 10:23 PM · Report this
mika 28
Ah.....the more I learn, the more I see the why gay americans seeks/gets sanctuary here in Sweden.
Posted by mika on October 10, 2009 at 11:14 PM · Report this
I agree with @5 here. I'm fully supportive of equality on these issues, and I would have ecstatic to hear Obama announce that DADT is ending this Monday, and a little disappointed that he didn't say that.

As for giving a shout out to Ref 71 here and Prop 1 in Maine, on the one hand it's disappointing, but on the other hand, had he given the shout out, it may have actually been counterproductive. It may have mobilized a lot more anti-gay money to pour into these campaigns than it would otherwise. Face it, there are a lot of anti-gay people out there with a lot of anti-gay money to spend. Obama, if not a polarizing figure per se, is a polarizing subject for the right (and, in some cases, for the left), and if he explicitly attached his name to Ref 71 or Prop 1, he might actually submarine them by bringing the attention of people who will try to sink those efforts just to give him a political black eye.

I says: keep up the political pressure. Keep up the criticism, and the marching and the whatnot. His administration's got a lot of issues to deal with: wars, healthcare, etc. If you don't keep squeaking, you won't get any oil. But, before you become completely cynical, remember that Obama is a politician, not a messiah- if he doesn't think it politically expedient to prioritize your issue appropriately, then it's up to you to make it politically expedient.
Posted by madcap on October 10, 2009 at 11:31 PM · Report this
The real insult of this speech is that it shows that Obama knows damn well the problems we face. And he still refuses to lift a finger. He knows what the right thing to do is, but he refuses to do it.

It's getting to the point where I actually prefer the outright hatred of the Republicans. At least they're more honest about the issue than these two-faced Democrats.
Posted by Corydon on October 10, 2009 at 11:46 PM · Report this
@30 Right...because standing by Clinton and sticking with him for 8 years accomplished so much. Like DADT (including yours truly kicked out of the Army after 5 1/2 years of service), DOMA and all this other crap.
Posted by Corydon on October 11, 2009 at 12:07 AM · Report this
bugwitch 33
It's interesting; the reporting through and edge news is decidedly pro-Obama on this. As are other places I have looked. They are all sounding the DADT is Ending alarm.

Words are great, they can inspire and motivate change. But we have come to a point where the words are a broken record which need to be supported by action.
Posted by bugwitch on October 11, 2009 at 12:26 AM · Report this
mmennonno 35
@22 do you want a cookie? STFU.
Posted by mmennonno on October 11, 2009 at 4:37 AM · Report this
I'm here in DC for the March and the hotel bar put on the speech on so everyone in the restaurant could listen. There was applause and cheers throughout! And I'm thinking: Really? Sounds like same-old, same-old to me. Everyone here is really fired up for the cause, though. It feels good.
Posted by mitten on October 11, 2009 at 5:51 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 38
january 21st, 2013. you just gotta wait. and wait. and wait.
Posted by Max Solomon on October 11, 2009 at 7:56 AM · Report this
raindrop 40
Good Gawd. Give Obama time already!!!
Do want him to try to early, and flub it like Clinton? Or after he makes a decision about Afghanistan he will have a more reasonable chance of success in hacking away at DADT.
Posted by raindrop on October 11, 2009 at 8:18 AM · Report this
drewvsea 41
Let's all revisit Memory Lane from Primaries '08:


Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have been in a running feud arising from her suggestion at Saturday’s debate that he was raising “false hope.”

Mr. Obama responded that Mr. Kennedy did not decide going to the moon was a false hope and that Martin Luther King, Jr. did not see ending segregation as such.

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” Mrs. Clinton said when asked about Mr. Obama’s rejoinder by Fox’s Major Garrett after her speech in Dover. “It took a president to get it done.”

The Obama campaign declined to comment on either of those remarks.
Posted by drewvsea on October 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM · Report this
As a wonk and activist for the repeal of DADT, I see last night’s speech as a huge deal. The phrase “the bully pulpit” just means his ability to generate news coverage and to move the national debate by giving a speech.

Where he speaks matters. The President has a very busy schedule, and choosing this event over the other 500 invitations he had sends a signal. Isn’t this the first time a sitting President has addressed a gay rights group? That’s a big deal right there. All the DC mandarins, executive and legislative, are now on notice that gay rights are on the President’s agenda. Not after 2012, but in his first term.

And what did he say? For the first time, he said that his administration will repeal DADT. This is not a campaign promise, not a message relayed through a press secretary, this is a policy announcement made directly by the President of the United States. I know it may not sound like much of a distinction, but in the Washington DC language of politics and diplomacy, fine distinctions matter. The Pentagon is already working on repeal - this makes them move faster. Harry Reid was asking for Presidential pressure on the issue - now he has it. And I predict a flood of media attention - front page articles, editorials, op-eds, and TV talking heads - motivating constituents to contact their Congresscritter, and hastening repeal.

As activists, it’s our job to say “not enough!” and to keep pressing onward toward full equality. This doesn’t mean we have to be negative. I see this speech as an opportunity to make headlines, and as a weapon to use in lobbying. Do I wish he’d said more? Yes. Will I continue to force the issue? Yes, and in doing so I’m grateful for the help Obama gave us last night.
Posted by BABH on October 11, 2009 at 8:44 AM · Report this
seandr 48
Don't you ever ask yourself why you post comments here? You seem to have it figured out - I'd be curious to know your answer.

Thanks, bro.
Posted by seandr on October 11, 2009 at 9:57 AM · Report this
@39 My point was there's something to be said for honesty.
Posted by Corydon on October 11, 2009 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Don't Ask Don't Tell quote of the day:
"I think it has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible" - Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

So call me an idealistically over-optimistic faggot if you like (though I suggest you not say it in the wrong tone to my face), but the reality is that movement on this issue is becoming possible because of President Obama's commitment it.
Posted by BABH on October 11, 2009 at 11:20 AM · Report this
I don't see why Obama feels the need to wait until his lame duck term. Bush pissed all over people and didn't give a shit whether or not it would cost him votes. I agree with Bill Maher: Obama needs to be more like Bush. Take on your opponents - votes be damned! There is always time to win people back because we Americans have short memories.

PS - Please people, don't say mean things about the way other posters's families look. It's so juvenile and not cool.
Posted by Nikki in MN on October 11, 2009 at 12:27 PM · Report this
kim in portland 54

Stay around. I like reading you.
Posted by kim in portland on October 11, 2009 at 12:47 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 55
Why do people still pay attention to lousy conservative shills like Sully? He's overall a harmful douche, regardless of whether the stopped clock is right a few times a year.
Posted by undead ayn rand on October 11, 2009 at 2:07 PM · Report this
One thing that stood out to me was that after the speech on CNN, You, Dan, were on a panel with another woman to discuss what Obama said. You brought up "Stop Loss" and the woman said something about "Top Gay Officials said 'no' to a Stop-Loss Order, you know that."
Could that be clarified a little? Who were the "Top Gay officials"? Why would they advocate against the Stop-Loss? Why would this woman say, "You know that, Dan." ?
Posted by Drew2u on October 11, 2009 at 5:58 PM · Report this
I saw this quote on

NBC News reporter John Harwood dropped this maybe bombshell:

Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the "internet left fringe" Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn't take this opposition, one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

Posted by jade on October 12, 2009 at 4:01 AM · Report this
An amazing speech from an amazing person. People must understand change cannot happen over night. There are real logistics that have to be worked out and planned. It's not like the flick of a switch. I feel change is coming and soon. We are very close and must keep our composure, our respect and honor for the process and others or it could all fall apart.
Posted by GatorGay83 on October 12, 2009 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Hey, 20, thanks for keeping it real. Does anyone else realize that the queers are fucked no matter who we vote for? That the politicians have no real agenda to give us a damn thing but MORE oppression? Our liberation needs to be STEPPED UP. The community needs to MOBILIZE AND FIGHT. The civil rights movements and women's rights movement didn't gain anything from lobbying groups (like HRC) and politicians. Why do the queers think that WE can? As long as they profit off our oppression, they won't care. Now is the time to get out from in front of your computer screens, out of your offices, and into the street. When a hate crime is committed, a right denied, we MUST BASH BACK.
Posted by anarchqueer on October 21, 2009 at 7:17 AM · Report this

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