AARP Pride Information and Resources for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People, Families and Allies - AARP
Friday, July 2, 2010
Those in attendance included Americablog's Joe Sudbay, Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend, Dr. Jillian Weiss of the Bilerico Project and Lisa Keen from Keen News Service, Lou Chibarro of the Washington Blade, Paul Schindler from Gay City News and Jen Colletta from Philadelphia Gay News.
From all reports, nobody in attendance was impressed by the "more of the same" answers given by Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.The purpose of the meeting at the Old Executive Office Building seems to have been to reassure the LGBT community that the president cares about our issues. Judging from the reports of those who attended to meeting, the administration once again missed the mark.
Bilerico's Dr. Jillian Weiss, a trans rights activist and university professor, who has provided me with invaluable advice on transgender/trans-sexual issues writes:
"I enjoyed meeting Melody Barnes. She was genuine, personable, and very, very smart and knowledgeable. I am genuinely thankful for the work she and the other members of the Administration, including the President, have put in on LGBT rights.
But I don't feel like I walked out with any more information than I walked in with. I already knew that the President was letting the legislative branch get away with ignoring LGBT rights.
I'd like to be able to say I was satisfied with these answers. I'm sure you'd like to say nice things too. But it seems we have a fundamental disagreement with the President as to what his job is. Is it to lead -- or to follow?"
Oh, he's led on plenty of legislative issues. Health care. Financial reform. And a bunch of others. But not on our issues. On that it's "up to them."
Pam Spaulding writes:
"Short version: Nothing new was learned, despite numerous attempts to get substantive answers about administration policy; move along to the next PHB post.
Long version: Keep reading if you want color commentary and a general review on the dodge and parry.
Assistant to the President Barnes started off, as expected, summarizing a list of administration accomplishments, noting of course, other than signing hate crimes legislation, all have been accomplished through executive action only (Cinderella Crumbs), such as hospital visitation, Family Medical Leave Act extension, HUD's announcement on LGBT discrimination policy, changes in addressing transgender passport application measures, and the lifting of the HIV ban. She underscored that the President is trying to accomplish as much as possibly in this manner, which does not require Congressional approval."
Americablog's Joe Sudbay asked Barnes about "killer amendments", like funding for the F-35 jet engine that nobody wants, that are part of the current Defense Spending Bill, that could kill DADT repeal. Barnes answered, "What I can tell you is that when we see the amendments that are filed that we will continue to do what we did through the process in the House, which is work to make sure that this moves forward. Obviously, if there is an effort to undermine repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the President wouldn't be supportive of that. At the same time, I can't sit here and walk through hypotheticals for amendments that I haven't seen and haven't been filed."
Sudbay writes, "We know that the administration thinks DADT and DOMA are discriminatory. We've heard that many times, but the administration continues to defend those laws in court. But, today, several of us asked Barnes if the administration considers DADT and DOMA unconstitutional? She's going to get back to us."
I guess my question would be, why did the White House feel that it was necessary to invite these respected journalists and bloggers to travel all the way to DC -- at their own expense -- just to have some administration lackey tell them what we've already heard a million times before? I do have to say that those who made the trip asked some tough questions. I recommend reading their posts on the event. For their part, the administration was just engaging in yet another elaborate circle jerk.