Bill Clinton to Cross Gay/Union Picket Line

17billxlarge122 days. That’s the answer to the question of how long it would take for Bill Clinton to embroil himself in a controversy since his wife was confirmed as Secretary of State. Yesterday, we told you how a group of union leaders and gay rights activists were urging the former President not to violate an ongoing boycott against San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt, whose owner Doug Manchester contributed $125,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign and today a Clinton spokesperson said Clinton would go ahead with his planned, paid speech on Sunday, because he wants to keep his commitment to the International Franchise Association– and you know, nab a fee likely to be in excess of $100,000.

Clinton’s legacy among gays and lesbians is dubious at best. While the former President enjoys a lot of popular support in the gay & lesbian community, as President, he was responsible for enacting two of the most damaging policies against the LGBT community, namely, Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell and The Defense of Marriage Act. He’s defended those decisions as being necessary compromises, but no matter how he or his spokespeople try to parse it, his decision to violate the Manchester Hyatt boycott reeks of opportunism and greed.

The San Diego Tribune
gets the reactions from angry labor leaders and gay activists:

“It’s shameful and hypocritical that President Clinton wouldn’t stand by his principles and honor two groups that he’s historically supported – labor groups and gay rights,” said Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local No. 30, who co-signed the letter.

“I’m very surprised that he would put his corporate sponsors over basic human dignity,” she said…

Cleve Jones, a longtime gay-rights activist who founded the NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt, said he welcomed Clinton’s help fighting Proposition 8 but was skeptical of the president’s position.

“The boycott has been in effect and very well publicized since July,” said Jones, who also signed the letter. “He’s had ample foreknowledge of the situation.”…

Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, a Los Angeles organization that promotes progressive political issues, said it’s ironic Clinton would be involved in the debate over same-sex marriage, because Proposition 8 is being defended in court in part by Kenneth Starr, who 10 years ago built the case for impeachment against Clinton.

“Bill Clinton has done a lot of good,” said Jacobs, who also signed the open letter. But “there’s a really big irony in this.”

Ironic? More like self-serving and calculated, but then again, since when has Clinton been anything less? Enjoy that picket line, Mr. President.