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October 09, 2009

Is HRC telling people to sit hands folded for Obama re: progress until 2017?

Posted in: Uncategorized

In one of those “what does he really mean” moments, Joe Solmonese sent out an HRC e-blast to supporters that suggests he's willing to cut the President slack until he leaves office in 2017, after an assumed second term in office.

The missive could also be interpreted as cheerleading the passage of hate crimes as sufficient progress to celebrate for now. If this the message that is being telegraphed as the party line, it proves the org is definitely not in touch with the grassroots discussion out there about what the President needs to say tomorrow night.

Hate crimes is an accomplishment, but what would affect LGBT citizens most profoundly is if the President would state imminent movement on ENDA, or even DADT repeal. That's real progress. Surely he can say something about the battle going on in Maine to reverse marriage equality. None of this mentioned in this e-blast. And cutting slack until 2017, if that's indeed the message, means yet again, that those who have the luxury to wait (they have non-discrimination measures where they live and work), don't understand the day-to-day peril working LGBTs live under in terms the vulnerability of being fired or losing the chance for employment because of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

That said, don't go by me; you parse this document and see if there's some other way to interpret this missive, passed along by Americablog.


—–Original Message—–
From: Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign President <hrc@hrc.org>
Sent: Fri, Oct 9, 2009 5:00 pm
Subject: HRC Weekly Update from Joe Solmonese

Joe's Weekly Message
Dear xxxxx,

Sometimes life moves so quickly that you can forget how much is changing around you. But this weekend we will have a powerful reminder: President Obama's appearance at HRC's national dinner. His joining us that night says that although last year, we were outsiders to our own government, this year, we are a part of its vision.

It shouldn't be difficult to see why the president of the United States speaking to the nation's largest LGBT rights group is a good development for LGBT people. But at this point in time, it is hard for many among us to see. The substance of the feeling is this: he promised us the world, and we gave everything we had to elect him. But what has he done?
I've written that we have actually covered a good deal of ground so far. But I'm not going to trot out those advances right now because I have something more relevant to say: It's not January 19, 2017.

That matters for two reasons: first, the accomplishments that we've seen thus far are not the Obama Administration's record. They are the Administration's record so far. If you ask “is that all” my question to you is “is that all you think we're going to push for?” It isn't.

More importantly: today, and for the next seven years and three months, Barack Obama is the most powerful person in the world, with the largest bully pulpit, and the most power to effect change. To do the work, we hav e to work with our supporters in Congress and with the Administration. Whatever you think of the Administration's first nine months, you don't pass laws by sitting out. You pass laws by sitting at the table.

And you don't get to the table at the expense of your principles. You don't get the President's ear at the expense of your expectations. In June I wrote a letter to President Obama describing HRC's disagreement with his decision to defend DOMA in federal court, and with the offensive and inaccurate arguments the government put forth. It's hard to read such a letter—a public one—from an ally.

But when the President signed a memorandum providing family protections and an inclusive non-discrimination policy for federal employees—policies for which HRC and our sister organizations had advocated—I was proud to be present. Our disagreement about DOMA did not require me to ignore a step forward for transgender federal workers and for same-sex partners. In turn, the President invited me because he recognized HRC's accomplishments in promoting those fair policies, and because he would not exclude a civil rights advocate for speaking up about our community's rights.

Those protections were a good first step. Passing the hate crimes law is a monumental one. I continue to believe that with this president, we will do much more. As we prepare to dedicate HRC's Edward Kennedy award, I know that this president shares his mentor's commitment to promoting justice for LGBT people.

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. This is something we share with all those who advocate for civil rights. No civil rights advocate can be satisfied as long as there are children who eat their only meals in their failing schools each day. No civil rights advocate should be satisfied until all of us have health care and no one has to declare bankruptcy because of a hospital bill. We are not satisfied until this country keeps its promise to everyone.

Advocates for health care, education, LGBT rights and other civil rights issues are getting used to this new landscape, where passing our legislation is possible, but still hard. We've learned that end of life counseling can be twisted into “death panels” and hate crimes into “pedophile protection.” We've come to understand that we didn't win it all in November but that we can win now.
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 a
s 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.

Sincerely, 
joe_solmonese_signature_150
Joe Solmonese
President, Human Rights Campaign
PS: C-Span will cover President Obama's address live. Tune in on Saturday night at 7:55 p.m.And if you are travelling to DC to participate in the National Equality March, click here for details about the resources HRC will be providing, including the tools you need to become a citizen lobbyist, advocating for all of the rights that you came to march for. 


More below the fold, including a snippet of The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld column, “View from the Hill,” about the dinner.

From View from the Hill, more evidence that the rah-rah at the dinner will focus on hate crimes passage:

 When I asked [Useless Press Secretary] Gibbs if the president would highlight anything beyond the recently nominated openly gay ambassador and the nearly sealed hate-crimes legislation, Gibbs said he didn’t want to “zoom past” the hate-crimes achievement

“Hate-crimes protections are long overdue, in the president's opinion,” Gibbs said. “He believes that their passage represents an important step, and looks forward to, when that legislation gets to his desk, signing it and making that the law of the land. I think that's certainly part of what he'll discuss on Saturday night.” 

Based on that response, I think it’s safe to say that hate crimes will clearly be a major emphasis of the speech. 

…Setting out a path to overturning the gay ban [DADT] on Saturday would certainly be noteworthy, but earlier this week, Gibbs’s reaction to questioning about a Senate sponsor for repeal or a timeline led me to believe that it hadn’t been a hot topic of conversation recently at the White House.


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