Obama’s Rainbow Cabinet of Rivals to Be 100% Gay Free

UPDATE II: Unless you count incoming Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, (which we don’t), there will be no gay members of the Obama cabinet. Politico reports that President-elect Obama has chosen California Rep. Hilda Solis as Labor secretary.

From yesterday’s WSJ:

The post is one of the last to be filled by President-elect Barack Obama, and is proving to be particularly difficult. Early candidates, such as former Rep. David Bonior and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, have faded, either because they asked not to be considered or ran into other problems. Bonior has championed labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell, who would be the first openly gay cabinet member in history.

But Shaiken has emerged as a candidate with strong backing from unions and high praise from corporate officials, according to people familiar with the selection process.

Here in a nutshell is why gays and lesbians are so upset with Obama today. He’s following the Clinton playbook for dealing with the gay community, a playbook that the Democratic Party has subscribed to ever since. When Barack Obama said that he only supports marriage as being defined as being between a man and a woman, the gay & lesbian community was told, “Don’t worry, we’ve got your back” and LGBT activists let is slide, despite the fact that Obama’s position was used by the Yes on 8 campaign in ads and mailers in their winning campaign. After the huge losses and nation-wide protest marches last month, we had hope Obama would speak up in defense of marriage equality, but he stayed silent. We were told, “Now is not the time.” When The Victory Fund announced it was working with the Obama team to find qualified gays and lesbians for the new Cabinet, we waited. We waited while the list of open positions diminished and now it appears Mr. Hope & Inclusion’s Dream Team won’t have any gay members at all. The one bright spot is that Obama’s Education Secretary nominee Arne Duncan is a champion of gay and lesbian youth.

Is it any wonder that gays and lesbians are upset that they’re being told to welcome and include one of the loudest and most prominent supporters of Prop 8 at the inauguration? In the 80s, Ronald Reagan sat silently while gay men and then peole from every walk of life suffered horrible, painful death due to AIDS. In the 90s, Clinton “felt our pain”, but only added to it by passing the Defense of Marriage Act and instituting Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell. George W. Bush supports a gay-baiting Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage that only exists as a way for conservatives to flas their bona fides come election time.

Let’s face it: The gay community gets dicked around by the White House regardless of which party is in office. Are LGBT rights the only issue that matters? No. It’s not even the most important one and LGBT Americans, like all Americans, will support our President in a difficult and trying time in our country’s history. But that doesn’t mean that we will roll over when our civil rights are used as political pawns to win over conservatives or to be shelved until some time in the distant future.

The flap over Rev. Warren will fade over time and a few months from now will seem unimportant, but it can and should be, as Mr. Obama himself might say, “a teachable moment.” Not for us, but for the President-Elect.

At today’s press conference, Obama said of the issue:

“It’s part of what my campaign’s been all about — that we’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans,” he said. “There are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that will be represented and that’s how it should be, because that’s what America is about.”

That sounds well and good, but where in the “wide range of viewpoints that will be represented” are gays and lesbians? Are not civil and equal rights something that should be and must be “one of those things that we hold common as Americans”? On the list of group who need more visibility and inclusion in Washington, are we to believe that Obama thinks that the religious right is a more marginalized group than gays and lesbians?

If the gay community is being loud in its criticism of Obama, it’s only because without a voice at the table, it seems he’s unable to hear us.

UPDATE II: The Victory Fund responds to Solis’ nomination:

With the rumored nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to the post of Labor Secretary, it’s apparent Barack Obama’s cabinet will not include a member of the LGBT community. Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute, expressed the community’s disappointment.

“It’s now clear that President Obama’s top appointees will gather in a Cabinet Room that does not reflect the living rooms, board rooms or rooms of worship across this country. Openly LGBT people are accepted and involved in nearly all aspects of American life, but they still will not have a place at the table at the highest reaches of their government,” Wolfe said.

The LGBT community’s Presidential Appointments Project does not have an express goal of attaining a cabinet-level appointment, but the floating of several names of openly gay and lesbian contenders to head the Labor and Interior Departments stirred hope that Obama would make an historic nomination. Still, Obama will make thousands more appointments in the coming months, and the Project has so far collected some 1,400 applications from openly LGBT at all levels of experience.

“Floating names is not enough. We expect President-elect Obama to live up to his word to appoint a diverse administration,” Wolfe said. “Our community is ready to help lead this country.”