ANNOYING BOTH SIDES OF AN EQUALITY DEBATE SIMULTANEOUSLY…. We learned this week that President Obama, after less than two years in office, has already “appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in history.” By one estimate, there are now more than 150 officials — “from agency heads and commission members to policy officials and senior staffers” — in the administration, easily surpassing the 140 officials spanning eight years of the Clinton administration.
Not surprisingly, the religious right isn’t happy about this. The Christian Broadcasting Network ran an item yesterday:
Gay activist groups estimate Obama has made 150 of the appointments so far. About a dozen of them required Senate confirmation.
The White House is proud of the numbers and noted that President Obama has hired more gay officials than the Clinton and Bush administrations combined.
Many conservative groups have blasted some of the appointments, saying they will use their roles to push a homosexual agenda on the country.
The far-right Alliance Defense Fund isn’t happy, either.
I feel like this keeps coming up, and it’s fascinating to watch. To the far-right opponents of gay rights, President Obama is a disaster, advancing LGBT equality in ways conservatives have feared for years. At the exact same time, progressive supporters of gay rights are also convinced that President Obama is a disaster, failing to advance LGBT equality in ways they’d expected.
For the right, Obama is so supportive of the LGBT community, he’s literally labeled “our first gay president.” For the left, the very idea seems ridiculous.
As the debate continues, it’s probably worth emphasizing some noteworthy accomplishments. The administration, in addition to hiring more openly gay officials than any administration in history, has made a variety of advances, including hospital visitation rights, a package of domestic partnership benefits for federal workers, lifting the travel/immigration ban on those with HIV/AIDS, expanded hate-crime laws, addressing the diplomatic passport issue, ordering the Federal Housing Authority to no longer consider the sexual orientation of applicants on loans, expanding the Census to include the number of people who report being in a same-sex relationship, endorsing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, and making the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act law.
There have also been more symbolic gestures, including the White House hosting an event to honor the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, announcing the first-ever transgender presidential appointee, honoring same-sex couples in his Mother’s Day and Father’s Day proclamations, recording a video for the “It Gets Better” Project, and hosting Gay and Lesbian Pride Month events at the White House.
Nevertheless, a sizable number of LGBT voters are prepared to stay home on Election Day or vote against Democrats, unsatisfied with the pace of change. The religious right, incensed by how pro-gay Dems have been, no doubt finds this inexplicable.