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Hey, National LGBT Leaders? What Went Wrong With Obama?

Donald Hitchcock, writing at Act on Principles, asks national LGBT leadership a pointed question: what went wrong with the Obama Administration? We had such high hopes — are we supposed to be content with only the Byrd/Shepard Hate Crimes Law?

As an LGBT community we were so hopeful in the Obama Administration. We were going to get ENDA passed, DADT repealed, and even our relationships recognized with the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Many in our community were part of the Obama Transition team, and many met to provide resources, advice, and support to the new Administration.

Now we are seeing our legislative priorities (in no particular order) including ENDA, DADT repeal, Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and DOMA repeal slip beyond the midterms….

Recalling those hopeful days of the Obama/Biden Transition, Hitchcock kindly re-posts a message from Greg Varnum, Executive Director of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. From the December 2008 meeting, Greg wrote:

A number of things about the meeting left me feeling very optimistic about the developing relationship between Obama’s Administration and the LGBTQ community. For starters, The Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s excellent leadership on the Presidential Appointments Project has resulted in a collaborative effort our community can certainly be proud of. The transition team cited it as a model for how constituency groups should approach the appointments process. Kudos to Chuck Wolfe and Mark Perriello for their vision and leadership on this project.

Leaders such as Rea Carey from The Task Force, and Joe Solmonese from the Human Rights Campaign, spoke about some of our top concerns. Chuck Wolfe from The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, shared his comments on our community’s expectations during the remainder of the transition process. Ben DeGuzman of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Leonard Hirsch of the Federal GLOBE and I all spoke to the intersections of our community over many other constituency groups and the need to address the many constituencies within the LGBTQ community. Rebecca Haag from the AIDS Action Council and H. Alexander Robinson from the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) brought up a number of important points about the AIDS epidemic which continues to plague our community. Others spoke very eloquently about many vital issues.

In fact, Greg published a list of all in-person and by-phone attendees.

Leaders Joining in Person
in alphabetical order

1. U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin)
2. Elizabeth Birch, Former President of the Human Rights Campaign
3. Jeremy Bishop, AFL-CIO Pride at Work
4. Brian Bond, Former National Constituency Director at Obama for America
5. Mark Bromley, Council for Global Equality
6. Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF)
7. Mandy Carter, Co-Chair of Obama PRIDE
8. Kevin Cathcart, Lambda Legal
9. Jamie Citron, Former Deputy LGBT Vote Director at Obama for America
10. Ben DeGuzman, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
11. U.S. Representative Barney Frank (Massachusetts)
12. Joan Garry, Co-Chair of Obama for America LGBT National Finance Council
13. Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action Council
14. Leonard Hirsch, Federal GLOBE
15. Jon Hoadley, National Stonewall Democrats (NSD)
16. Jody Huckaby, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
17. Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
18. Justin Nelson, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
19. Dave Noble, Former LGBT Vote Director at Obama for America
20. Matt Nosanchuk, Convener of the LGBT Policy Committee, Obama for America
21. Mark Perriello, Presidential Appointments Project (coalition of 12 national LGBT groups)
22. U.S. Representative-Elect Jared Polis (Colorado)
23. H. Alexander Robinson, National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
24. Aubrey Sarvis, Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
25. Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
26. Campbell Spencer, Co-Chair of Obama PRIDE
27. Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President a the Center for American Progress
28. Greg Varnum, National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC)
29. Chuck Wolfe, Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute

Leaders Joining By Phone
in alphabetical order

1. Marsha Botzer, Co-Chair of Obama PRIDE
2. Dr. Eliza Byard, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
3. Jorge Cestou, Unid@s
4. Jennifer Chrisler, Family Equality Council
5. Matt Coles, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and AIDS Project
6. Earl Fowlkes, International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP)
7. Rebecca Fox, National Coalition for LGBT Health
8. Jesse Garcia, Co-Chair of Obama PRIDE
9. Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
10. Carolyn Laub, Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSAN)
11. Rick Stafford, Chair of the DNC Gay and Lesbian Caucus
12. Eric Stern, Co-Chair of Obama PRIDE
13. Lee Swislow, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
14. Andy Tobias, Treasurer of the DNC
15. Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry

Presidential Transition Team
in speaking order

1. Fred Hochberg, Agency Review Team Lead
2. Mike Strautmanis, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison
3. Dana Singiser, Director of Public Liaison
4. John Podesta, Co-Chair
5. Parag Mehta, Public Liaison
6. Jim Messina, Director of Personnel
7. Elaine Kaplan, Agency Review Team Lead
8. Heather Higginbottom
9. Melody Barnes, Co-Director of Agency Review
10. Roberta Achtenberg, Agency Review Team Lead

also attending from the PTT

11. Tom Perez, Agency Review Team Lead
12. Brad Kiley, Director of Operations
13. John Michael Gonzales, Congressional Affairs
14. Chris Chan, Volunteer
15. Pepin Tuma, Volunteer
16. Alex Wagner, Volunteer

Additional Guests

1. Rufus Gifford
2. Jeremy Bernard
3. Karine Jean Pierre

Donald Hitchcock, quite rightly asks of every single one of these attendees, activists and allies all:

What went wrong my friends, what went wrong?

I wonder if we will ever know the answer to that question, as every single LGBT priority slips away in the upcoming midterms. Congress will touch nothing now. And a new Congress may be unwilling or, even, unable to bring any of our issues to the floor.

What went wrong my friends, what went wrong?

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