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Gay Democrats close wallets to Obama
“Anybody who works in Washington who tells you a specific timeline is kidding you because a timeline is when you get 218 votes in the House of Representatives and 60 votes in the Senate,” said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking openly gay member of the administration. “That’s the rules of the road.”
A White House spokesman said Mr. Obama had long planned the Monday gathering with gay families, volunteers, activists and community leaders as part of Pride Month.
But Thursday, the administration got the cold shoulder as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke to the LGBT Leadership Council at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
About 50 protesters with signs reading “Shame” urged attendees to turn away, but openly gay Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, said she wanted to express frustration both outside and inside the event.
Despite the prominent Stonewall Democratic Club and other top donors sitting out of the fundraiser, the event raised about $1 million for the national party, a larger haul than last year.
Mr. Biden took the dust-up head-on, pledging that the administration wants “true equality for all our people” and adding, “I don’t blame you for your impatience.”
He received an ovation for pledging the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and DOMA.
On Tuesday, fundraiser activists at Fenway Park greeted Mr. Biden with signs that read: “No Gay Rights, No $.” The protest was organized by a Facebook group, which declared, “Money talks, folks.”
“If the Obama administration and the Dems want to tamper down frustrations, the only way for them to do so will be to take concrete strong action to pass substantive LGBT civil rights measures,” the organizers wrote.
Mr. Korb, of the Obama-friendly Center for American Progress, detailed a report Wednesday with “practical steps” to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” starting with an executive order to end the discharges and then sending or endorsing legislation to repeal the law.
“THE longer you wait the harder it’s going to be. You lose the momentum,” he said, citing a University of California at Los Angeles study suggesting 4,000 members of the military leave because they “don’t want to live with the pressure.” The study also showed 40,000 homosexuals want to enlist but don’t for fear of being kicked out.
In all, more than 12,500 gay members of the military have been discharged in the 15 years since the ban became law.
Michael B. Keegan, president of liberal-leaning group People For the American Way praised Mr. Obama’s oratorical ability to bridge social divides on the tough issues of race, abortion and religious freedom, saying it’s now “time to make that speech” on gay rights.
“You have shied from promoting the vision of equality that you articulated during your campaign,” he wrote in a letter to the president. “The lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America’s sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.”
Gay rights group Equality Maryland is asking supporters to write to Mr. Obama, reminding him to “be the fierce advocate you promised.”
About the Author
Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...
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