Tuesday, June 22, 2010

State LGBT Leaders Invited to White House Pride Reception, National Leaders Left Out

The President will play host to leaders from state LGBT organizations at today's Pride Month reception at the White House. Maybe these queer leaders will do what our national leaders don't seem to have the stones to do -- lead!

With the president taking so much heat from some national LGBT orgs and most LGBT bloggers, maybe he thought he'd call in the second string team, who might be more grateful and less critical. My guess is that that the Big O is in for a rude awakening. State groups are hungrier than the national orgs. They don't have the spotlight very often or the financial backing to get their messages out. I'm betting that at least some of them will use the opportunity to hammer the prez on his failure to deliver on ENDA and the repeal of DOMA and DADT.

The Washington Blade reports:
People speaking anonymously to the Blade have said invitations generally were restricted to the heads of state equality groups, members of the LGBT community with compelling stories and a contingent of LGBT youth.

The upcoming reception recalls a similar White House event last year. That reception came in the wake of the publication of a controversial legal brief from the Justice Department defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a move that incurred the rancor of many LGBT activists.

But this year’s reception follows no such controversy and seems to be targeting different members of the LGBT community. The leaders of national LGBT groups — including Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese — weren’t invited to the event next week, according to one source.

Leaders of state equality groups who were invited to the White House Pride reception and said they want to hear Obama speak about issues affecting LGBT people in the places they represent.

Ian Palmquist, executive director of Equality North Carolina, said he wants the president to urge Congress to move forward with pro-LGBT legislation, particularly the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“I would like the president to publicly and vocally call on Congress to pass ENDA as soon as possible,” Palmquist said. “I believe that ENDA is the most important item on our agenda right now — and passing it would have a transformative effect on a lot of LGBT people in our country.”

North Carolina is among the states that have no laws intended to protect LGBT residents against discrimination in the workforce.

Palmquist said he would speak with Obama about the importance of ENDA if given the chance during the reception.

“I think I’d tell him about the impact that discrimination is having on people here in North Carolina and why it’s so important for him to stand up and ask that ENDA be passed as soon as possible,” he said.
According to On Top Magazine, one such notable invitee with a compelling story is teen activist Constance McMillen, who made headlines last year for suing the Itawamba County Mississippi school district for the right to attend her prom with her girlfriend.
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