Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Other Cheek

A whole lot of attention has been given to Rick Warren and the president-elect after the latter honored the homophobic pastor with center stage at the upcoming presidential inauguration. Little attention however has been paid to the fact that Obama has further repaid gay loyalty and hard work with another slap on the other cheek by not appointing an LGBT person to his Cabinet, by making it very clear that gays are not welcome at the big table.

Chuck Wolfe, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, brought this to the attention of the Washington Blade.

As we talk about either keeping or renewing America’s promise, which the president-elect has been talking about, apparently it does not yet extend to gay and lesbian people in the Cabinet of the president ... Not only do you not find a qualified LGBT person to serve in your Cabinet, at the same time, you announce publicly that the person who is going to lead the nation in prayer during the inaugural is a person who does not believe gay and lesbian people are equal in the eyes of the country. So you’ve now sent how many signals to gay and lesbian Americans that they are not equal?
Apparently, gay activists had been lobbying Obama to select Mary Beth Maxwell, a lesbian and founding executive director for American Rights at Work, to become the next labor secretary. Instead, the next president chose Rep. Hilda Solis of California for the last available cabinet-level position. This effectively slammed the door in our faces.

Wolfe clearly remembers having being told by Obama's transition team that we would be happy with Obama's appointment. But as he said, "I think it’s clear that they were either not telling us the truth or somebody misinterpreted what happy would mean."

Indeed, Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, who was present at the meeting recalls team officials appearing attentive and very clear about recommended policy changes, including the appointment of a gay person to the Cabinet.

They were taking notes, they were listening, they were responding, they were asking questions, they were a very, very engaged transition team and that bodes well for our community moving forward.
To date, there is only one LGBT individual joining the next administration: Nancy Sutley, a lesbian who currently serves as deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, and who will head the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Hers is not a cabinet-level post but rather one of the many assistants to the president. Indeed, gays do run Washington, confirming what a homosexual technocrat once told me. In supporting roles, hidden in the background.

In his remarks at the meeting with Obama's transition team, Wolfe pointed out that

President-elect Obama promises a diverse administration filled with talented individuals from all walks of life ... This must include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. Anything less is not fully inclusive, and that could be seen as an indication that our community is little more than an ATM for campaigns.
We hear you loud and clear Barry!

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