White House Invites Gay Media to Meet With Senior Aide. Everyone Walks Away Unimpressed

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.

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  • jason

    Obama is trying to get us to vote for the Democrats this November. That’s where it begins and that’s where it ends with these Democrats.

    As I’ve said before, we need to punish the Democrats this year. We need to send them the message that we are fed up with their symbolic nonsense consisting of inviting us to the White House. We need to tell them that we are sick and tired of their pretending to like us.

    Look, folks, the Democrats have had a huge majority the past 2 years. Yet what have they done? OK, they passed the hate crimes bill, I’ll give them credit for that. But if this is all they can do with such a huge majority, they really amount to not much at all.

  • Baxter

    People need to face the facts: Obama doesn’t “push hard” on anything. He gives vague speeches about how something or other is a major issue, but doesn’t try to find solutions or work with Congress to fix things. He’s a terrible leader.

  • ousslander

    He fights for laws of the land that discriminate against gay citizens but yet fights against or will not enforce immmigration laws. Eh, I’m going cherry picking

  • Michael @

    Not only did they not get any real answers to their questions, they didn’t even get offered room temperature tap water…in DC IN JULY! [Though they did get a small box of M&Ms bearing the Presidential Seal…which would have only made them thirstier.] Guess the perpertual motion Kool Aid fountains around every corner were supposed to suffice.


    Joe Sudbay from AMERICAblog asked what Obama’s response would be if “killer amendments” were introduced re the “maybe repeal” bill. ANSWER: “blah blah blah…blah blah.”

    Pam Spaulding of PamsHouseBlend asked if [regardless of “repeal” of the statute] DISCHARGES will have ended by this time next year. ANSWER: “blah blah.”

    Sorry no one asked why his “support for ‘repeal'” required wiping Gates’ ass with the Military Readiness Enhancement Act [which would have GUARANTEED an end to discharges] and throwing it away.

    The Advocate’s cub reporter wasted her question asking about Obama and same gender relationships when it’s obvious he’s more allergic to contributing to their recognition in ANY form [regardless of his tired, meaningless boiler plate] than any other topic.

    Sadly, Gay Media, because they asked AGAIN, seems allergic to remembering that Obama HAS expressed whether he believes DADT is constitutional. In fact, it was a year ago this month that in his non-answer to Anderson Cooper’s question about why he doesn’t freeze discharges if he thinks they’re so wrong Obama said this:

    “If Congress passes a law THAT IS CONSTITUTIONALLY VALID, then it’s not appropriate for the executive branch simply to say, we will not enforce a law.”

    One-time constitutional law prof Obama is WRONG on TWO counts:

    1. He knows that only the Supremes can rule on the constitutionality of a law and they’ve NEVER ruled on DADT.

    2. In the absence of such a ruling, there is ample precedent for “the executive branch” refusing to enforce OR defend laws IT believes are unconstitutional.

    Per constitutional law attorney Emma Ruby-Sachs: “The President of the United States has an “undisputed right to… refuse to defend in court, statutes which he regards as unconstitutional.” Ameron, Inc. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 787 F.2d 875 ¶ 41 (3d Cir. 1986). This right is often exercised by directing the Department of Justice to challenge, rather than defend, an impugned statute.

    The Justice Department has, historically, refused to defend statutes that are unconstitutional because they violate the rights of citizens(2) and statutes that are unconstitutional because they violate the separation of powers.(3) In 1946, the Justice Department argued against the constitutionality of a statute that directed the President to withhold compensation from three named employees. United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303 (1946). In 1983, the Justice Department argued against the constitutionality of a legislative veto on citizenship applications. INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983). In 1988, the Department of Justice challenged the constitutionality of the independent counsel statute. Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988).

    The Department of Justice may also notify Congress of a refusal to defend an impugned statute without appearing in court for either side. As recently as 2005, the Department of Justice notified congress that it would not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems. ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta (civil action no. 04-0262).”

  • Talarico

    On the Thursday going into a holiday weekend?
    And White House LGBT Liaison Brian Bond sat there and ‘said nothing’?

    Color me unimpressed. And if Metroweekly’s Obamabot and Gay Inc ass kisser Chris Geidner is unimpressed, you KNOW we are in trouble.

  • Tallskin

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh fucking dear.

    This man has turned out to be such a disappointment to everyone.

    We decadent Europeans were in love with him when he was elected, but since then he has proved himself to be an utter washout – a bit like Tony Blair: all cheezy grin, fantastic PR, all geared up to get elected but when he gets there, when he gets elected, it is obvious he has no moral compass, doesn’t know what the fuck to do, tries to please everyone and is fucking useless.

    Such a shame Hilary isn’t president, she would be SO much better – she may be crooked but she isn’t a hopeless fuckwit.

    This obama is a one term president. Make way for Sarah Palin – so you’d better batten down the hatches and prepare for stormy weather.

  • Mark

    President Obama has proven himself to be like held breath, reticent and a failure in his campaign promises as far as LGBT civil rights issues. We need a Congress and President who will fight for our rights to be treated equally by our Government.

  • TommyOC

    “That the Obama administration even recognizes the need to engage queer media…”

    The Obama Administration recognizes the need to get the queer media off of his back and will do as little as possible to see that happen.

    They didn’t hold this event out of the goodness of their hearts or some need to move issues forward; they held this meeting because it’s an election year.

  • Brutus

    @jason: What “huge” majority have Democrats had? I have no interest in the grim trigger of “punishing” the Democrats by putting more Republicans in office. That punishes me too. But pushing more progressive Democratic candidates, or Green candidates, is something I can get behind.

  • Brutus

    @Michael @ What is the second point on which you claim Obama is wrong? I only see one in your post. And as to that point, you’re confusing what is permissible with what is appropriate. It’s also perfectly possible that Obama believes that DADT is bad policy but nevertheless constitutional. *IF* it might be true that having gays serve openly without threat of dismissal on that basis would in some way interfere with the operation of the armed forces, then DADT is constitutional. I personally think that’s absurd, but I’m not an expert on the sociology of servicement.

  • Michael @


    “interfere with the operation of the armed forces, then DADT is constitutional”

    Sorry, but there’s no such formula in the Constitution. There are all kinds of things which the military has claimed they must be allowed to do and the courts have said, “No, the Constitution trumps you on this.”

    It is simply that, driven by their own homophobia, more judges than not have ruled that they can deny gays equal rights. But remember even the Supreme Court once ruled slavery and, years later, civilian sodomy laws were “constitutional,” with later Justices reversing those decisions.

    As for the opportunity in all kinds of areas Obama has screwed up:

    “Barack Obama has the largest majority of both houses that any President has had in 30 years, and yet he’s governing as if he’s- it’s 50-50 or even he’s in the minority. Now, he should be willing to take some hits for what he strongly believes in, and the American People will respect him for that, even I think, if they disagree with what — that’s the way it was with Reagan, and that’s the way it was for a long time with Bush. Instead, he’s managing the fight between the two sides. He’s not leading the fight. And it’s a strategy. It might have worked. But it hasn’t worked. It’s clearly not working now. And it needs to be rethought.” – Eric Alterman, “Bill Moyers Journal,” January 22, 2010.

  • Devon

    Who needs equality or any of that?

    We get press conferences, y’all!

  • Bill Perdue

    @jason: I agree with a lot of that but not with the idea that the Democrats can be changed.

    In 1860 they were clearly the party of secession and racism. 100 years later they tried on some costmetics to cover their racism but they’re still the party of Dixiecrats like Clinton, even with Obama in the WH.

    The confrence was a dud because really what can Obama say.

    A) That he sabotaged same sex marriage in California with a little help from HRC, the mormons and catholics, EQCAs Eurocentrism and his political bedmate Rick Warren?

    B)That he consistently defends DOMA and DADT using vile language?

    C) That he consistely interferes with and sabotages Congressionsl efforts to take up our agenda?

    Or D) That he passes out Easter eggs. Lots and lots of very pretty Easter eggs.

    Here’s a hint.


  • Talarico

    @Michael @ “The Advocate’s cub reporter wasted her question asking about Obama and same gender relationships when it’s obvious he’s more allergic to contributing to their recognition in ANY form than any other topic.”

    You can say that again. I’m fairly unimpressed with Eleveld. She’s at White House press conferences and asks questions, but that’s about it.

    Of course Obama isn’t changing his mind on marriage. And I’m not faulting him for that. Why can’t get mainstream media ask the White House specifically what IS the president doing? What will he do about ENDA or DOMA besides mention them in a speech once or twice a year?

Comments are closed.