Saturday, October 10, 2009

Update as the March Weekend Gets into Full Swing

It's been a busy weekend so far, with so much happening in the last 24 hours, it's been hard to keep up. I'll try to hit the highlights.

Obama's keynote speech at tonight's HRC awards dinner has the LGBT blogging community and the mainstream press abuzz, especially with the announcement of his Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. Booking the president in the first place was quite a coup for the Human Rights Campaign, this just puts it over the top.

The LGBT blogs and mainstream media have been speculating about what Obama will say. Will he address the ballot initiative in Maine to overturn same-sex marriage? Will he announce any concrete plans to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"  and the Defense of Marriage Act? Will it be more of the same incremental baby steps toward full equality? All of these questions have have opened up the debate to a much broader audience, which if nothing else, is a good thing. C-SPAN will have live coverage of the HRC dinner tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

HRC President Joe Solmonese released a statement calling for the LGBT community to be patient and give the president the benefit of the doubt, saying:

"I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will look back on the President's address to my community as an affirmation of his pledge to be our ally. I will remember it as the day when we all stood together and committed to finish what Senator Kennedy called our unfinished business. And I am sure of this: on January 19, 2017, I will also look back on many other victories that President Barack Obama made possible."

Naturally, Solmonese's comments have stirred up a hornet's nest on the gay blogs. Critics say that the HRC president is inferring that we should not expect any concrete efforts from the White House in the immediate future and that he's assuming that Obama will serve two terms. In response, Solmonese released this statement today to clarify his remarks:

"I’ve seen some reactions to my weekly message, that I gave the President a free pass not to fulfill his campaign promises until 2017.

Here’s something from what I wrote that the authors didn’t include in their pieces: 'I predict great things coming out of our work with this President, but that does not mean that I am satisfied today. Our community cannot be satisfied so long as DOMA is on the books and an inclusive ENDA is not.' I am not satisfied. HRC is not satisfied."

These words did not actually appear in the original statement. You can read it at Pam's House Blend.

Congressman Barney Frank also stirred up a shit storm with his comments about tomorrow's march, when he said that marching was "a waste of time, at best" and that nobody in Washington would be paying attention. Frank's comments have sparked a debate about the difference between the gay community's old guard with their slower, incremental approach to achieving equality, versus today's passionate younger generation of LGBT activists who are taking a more grass roots approach, making use of social networking sites like FaceBook and Twitter to organize. Huffington Post has a good piece on it.

Bloggers and activists from all over the country began descending on the nation's capital yesterday and have become media darlings. Sirius Radio talk show host and activist Michelangelo Signorile appeared on MSNBC several times today.

The Bilerico Project's Bil Browning reports via FaceBook that he's been interviewed by NPR and The NY Times. He also reported that he met "the hot guy from Glee" while shopping and posted a pic online just to prove it. The chance meeting turned into an opportunity to interview the cast of Glee. He also reports that he interviewed Lady GaGa.

Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend will be live blogging tonight from the HRC dinner and throughout the weeknd.

As for me, Paul will be going to DC with me (Yay!), more out of fear of what might happen to me in the big bad city than anything else. He'll get to reprise his role as my designated photographer. My equipment is not as state of the art as I would like, so I'll have to wait until I get home Sunday night to post anything. We'll be heading out at about 5 a.m. tomorrow. We decided to park at a Metro station in Northern Va. and take the train the rest of the way in, as traffic and parking will be a nightmare.

I'll be meeting up with Roanoke Equality's Frank House and his group at the march tomorrow. Frank has worked tirelessly to get our local LGBT's to the march and I'm really looking forward to meeting and talking to them all. When I last spoke with him Friday, Frank was understandably exhausted, but so psyched about the weekend. He'll be attending workshops and making connections all day Saturday and hopes to come home with some great ideas for organizing local activists and events.

So that's where we stand at this point. I'll probably be up late Sunday night posting pics and writing about the march. I wish you all could be there. Don't forget that tomorrow is National Coming Out Day. Strike a blow for equality by coming out to someone in your life.

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