Seventeen LGBT media outlets, though not this website, were invited invited to meet at the White House today with Melody Barnes, the Obama administration’s Domestic Policy Council’s president’s assistant (whew); nine reporters/bloggers attended. It was an on-the-record chat, which I applaud. But if anyone walked in there thinking there’d be new news (and isn’t that the definition of news), they were sorely disappointed.
Americablog‘s Joe Sudbay: “But, after today, I’m still not sure who [Obama] is ‘pushing hard.’ Because, moving ahead is squarely up to Capitol Hill, according to Barnes.” Bilerico Project‘s Dr. Jillian T. Weiss: “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.” Pam’s House Blend‘s Pam Spaulding: “Nothing new was learned, despite numerous attempts to get substantive answers about administration policy; move along to the next PHB post.”
In fact, the meeting appears to have actually given more fuel to Obama criticism. Lisa Keen from her eponymous news wire asked why the president continues defending laws he believes are discriminatory. “Because,” replied Barnes, “right now, it’s the law of the land.”
But even I won’t spread negativity over all of this. That the Obama administration even recognizes the need to engage queer media — which the president himself has not done since his election — is a sea change from the previous administration. It’s notable. It’s significant. It’s also not good enough.