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    March 05, 2007

    Learning from the last Clinton

    Posted by: Chris

    Bobhattoydiner I was saddened to hear yesterday from Sean Strub, publisher of Poz magazine, that Bob Hattoy has died from PCP-related AIDS complications.

    If you've heard of Bob (pictured in the center above in this recent photo from the Duplex Diner in D.C.), it's probably due to his ground-breaking speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.  At a time when both AIDS and gay issues remained mostly in the closet, he gave them a very public voice.

    But he played an even more pivotal role, along with that other gay Friend of Bill's David Mixner, placing gay folks in jobs throughout the new Clinton administration. This from my good friend William Waybourn, who was executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund back in 1993:

    After the 1992 elections, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and other groups created Coalition ’93 to promote openly lesbian and gay candidates for the incoming Clinton Administration.  In anticipation of jobs needing people, we compiled a pool of resumes from more than 1,200 qualified and diverse individuals from around the country with various backgrounds and experiences. 

    As David Mixner and Bob Hattoy were two of the more outspoken gay men in the campaign, they got calls from the various transition committees to deliver potential appointees.

    Bob treated us as if we were a carry-out delicatessen:   “I need two persons with aeronautical backgrounds for NASA, one military type for the Department of Defense, and three with medical and public health service for Health & Human Services.  Hold the feather boas on the DOD one.”  Twice a day or more, Bob and I would confer on possible openings, and I would pull the appropriate resumes and deliver them to him.  Bob then forwarded them to the committees for placement. 

    After so many years of Reagan/Bush, the competition for these jobs was fierce, and almost every group had scores of potential appointees lined up.  But many of our applicants got there first because Bob took upon himself to track down committee members to promote each applicant.  Of the more 100 individuals placed with the incoming Administration in those early months, almost all were shepherded by Bob.

    Just weeks after Clinton took office, the gays in the military debate flared and the man from Hope, Ark., systematically walked away from his commitments to gay people. But Bob and David both held firm, as Andrew Sullivan remembered in a funny and spot-on tribute posted today:

    [Bob] refused to sell "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," refused to lie and spin, and so got shunted off to an Interior Department job and muzzled. "They thought I'd be dead in a few months, that's why they gave me the White House job," he once said to me, bursting into laughter.

    I wish he'd written his book about life as a gay man in the Clinton administration. One working title — among many — was "It's The Economy, Faggot," which was roughly the attitude of most senior Clintonites to the gays who worked for them.

    After the gays in the military debacle, Clinton backed the Defense of Marriage Act and was too busy triangulating to deliver on even basic gay rights legislation. Eight years later, Clinton apologists were still pointing to all those openly gay personnel as the administration's big gay accomplishment.

    It's a point worth remembering, all these years later, as Bob passes on and another Clinton runs for the White House. Just this weekend, Hillary paid an undisclosed visit to the Human Rights Campaign, where she spoke to the group's assembled national board of directors and board of governors.

    Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for again pointing out how "the fix is in" already for HRC the candidate over at HRC the organization — a match made in initials that Clinton herself alluded to repeatedly in her speech:

    Here's Senator Clinton's speech to Human Rights Campaign volunteers yesterday. Money quote on HRC's talk to HRC: "I love the fact that it's my initials. Have you ever noticed that?"

    There was no press coverage of this speech, and HRC kept it very hush-hush, which is weird, defensive, suspicious — but that's HRC, sucking money out of gay pockets to finance an insider, velvet-rope elite of D.C. hacks. But the speech is significant in one respect, it seems to me. HRC, the organization, is now fully integrated into HRC, the campaign. It is the Clinton campaign. Clinton calls HRC's executive director, Joe Solmonese a "colleague." She talks of a future "relationship" with HRC in a Clinton administration: "You will have an open door to the White House." Among HRC's victories, she cites the 2006 election turn-out campaign ... for the Democrats.

    Hattoy's passing should remind us how such "access" means little when it doesn't result in real policy changes. Clinton did make a number of commitments in her HRC speech, from the usual bromides about workplace discrimination and hate crimes, to some meatier rhetoric on civil unions, Social Security benefits and gay adoption. Still missing was a solid commitment to federal civil union legislation or even the existing bill (the Uniting American Families Act) to extend immigration rights to gay Americans.

    Unfortunately, a growing number of observers have little confidence that HRC and Solmonese will actually pressure Clinton and other leading Dems into actually expending political capital toward these policy gains, especially when they're too busy imagining themselves as political appointees in an HRC White House.

    Here's the full video of HRC's chat with HRC and the fawning introduction from Solmonese that preceded it:

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    1. Hillary Clinton Speaks on GayIssues from Blowhard on Mar 5, 2007 5:25:33 PM

      Hillary gives great face as they say.  I am glad a leading Presidential candidate is at least saying these words (UPDATE: even if somewhat in secret): Were going to reach out and work with our allies in Congress both to cha... [Read More]

    Comments

    1. txdave22 on Mar 5, 2007 9:19:33 PM:

      Clinton did all he could, he was prez not king.

      Opposed by leading Dems like Nunn and Joint Chief Ch. Powell, this was the best he could get.

      He doesn't deserve your criticism.

      Here's WP:

      In 1993, at the urging of President Clinton, Congress agreed to soften the outright ban on gays in the military with a policy that came to be known as "don't ask, don't tell," which allowed them to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation secret.

    1. txdave22 on Mar 5, 2007 9:22:12 PM:

      Of course, dadt didn't satisfy Clinton or much of anyone else.
      It was a small step of progress and the best he could get.

      AARON BELKIN

      � 2003 Aaron Belkin

      From Parameters, Summer 2003, pp. 108-19.

      Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton, the US Congress, and much of the nation were swept up in a monumental debate on whether or not acknowledged gays and lesbians would be allowed to serve in the US military. Having promised in his campaign to extend this civil right to gays and lesbians, Clinton faced a difficult challenge when he attempted to fulfill his pledge, opposed as he was by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and prominent members of Congress, like Senator Sam Nunn. In spite of their opposition, Clinton pressed on, and on 29 January 1993, he suspended the former policy that banned gay and lesbian personnel from service outright. Initiated by President Carter and implemented by President Reagan, this policy had been under attack by gay and lesbian military personnel since its inception as discriminatory,1 and Clinton intended to formulate a new policy that would be more tolerant of sexual minorities in the US military and preserve military effectiveness.2

      Over the next six months, Congress held numerous hearings on this issue and ultimately included a new policy on homosexual soldiers in the 1994 National Defense Authorization Act, commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”3 Billed by many as a compromise, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been the subject of much criticism by both experts and activists, who view it as an imperfect solution to the problem it tried to solve ten years ago.4 In many ways, it was a politically expedient policy that pleased no one, and on its ten-year anniversary, perhaps it deserves to be revisited and evaluated in light of the impressive amount of evidence that scholars and experts have gathered about this issue in the interim.

      108/09

      According to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” known homosexuals are not allowed to serve in the US armed forces. Unlike the previous policy, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not allow the military to ask enlistees if they are gay, but similar to its predecessor, it does stipulate that service members who disclose that they are homosexual are subject to dismissal. The official justification for the current policy is the unit cohesion rationale, which states that military performance would decline if known gay and lesbian soldiers were permitted to serve in uniform.5

    1. Tim on Mar 6, 2007 4:50:43 PM:

      Dude, you are going to go on and on and on about the HRC and Hillary Clinton and not mention one word about Ann Coulter? I'm beginning to wonder if you do have an agenda. Then there is also the gay porn star guy who is being lauded by republicans...but you are probably too busy to mention anything that isn't related to the HRC.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Mar 7, 2007 5:37:04 AM:

      Tim:

      What criticism can Chris make of Coulter latest mouth-fartthat 1) hasn't already been said on every gay blog (and even most of the conservative ones) already, and, 2) isn's a restatement of the blindingly obvious along with 'water wet, fire hot, don't let the kids play on the highway during rush hour'?

      If you want to give me a call, I'll walk you through how to set up your own blog where you can write about what you want to your heart's content, instead of bitching about what Chris writes on his.

      txdave22:

      Come on... when do gays and lesbian Clintionistas stop it with the political battered spouse syndrome? There's only one thing more pathetic - and dangerous - than the the eight years of enabling the gay and lesbian establishment delivered to Bill Clinton and his administration. The same people lubing up to do it all over again for his wife.

      DADT alone has turned out to not only be a deeply bigoted and unworkable policy, it's become an active threat to national security in a time of war, when we saw desperately needed translators fluent in Farsi and Persian being discharged for no other reason than their sexuality. Hey, we can't have FAGS providing intelligence that could prevent another 9/11 could we?

      Are the like of HRC even making that argument to Clinton and Obama, and their equivalents in the GOP? Sounds like the only 'open door to the White House' they want, is a pass to the staff entrance so they can kiss Clinton ass directly.

    1. Tim on Mar 7, 2007 12:50:16 PM:

      Craig,

      I'll be happy to give you a call and you can walk me through you munching on my left nut.

      Tim

    1. Andoni on Mar 7, 2007 1:39:21 PM:

      I apologize if this is a duplicate, but I think my first try didn't post.

      Thanks for highlighting all that Bob Hattoy did for our community. He was a gem.

      Now for Hillary. As a former HRC Board member, I can tell you that in order for HRC to endorse a presidential candidate, the Board has to vote on it. Hmm.... so what was Hillary doing speaking at that Board meeting? Were other candidates invited so they too could have an equal opportunity or equal access to make their cases. I would agree with Andrew Sullivan that the fix is in.

      What is mind boggling is that some of the other candidates have BETTER positions than Hillary on our issues. If HRC is hellbent on endorsing Hillary, they could at least do the community a favor by getting her to publicly make her gay positions equal to the best of the other candidates.

      The fact that she is in the closet on where she stands with us is demeaning to us. Others are not afraid to publicly stand with us/for us. What is her problem?

      Wouldn't it be ironic if the election in 2008 came down to Rudy vs Hillary and Rudy had the better public stances on our issues. Rather than support triangulation and closet like behavior in being with us, I would rather vote for Rudy.

    1. Craig Ranapia on Mar 7, 2007 9:39:11 PM:

      Tim:

      Thanks for the offer - what do you charge to dress up like Ann Coulter, because you've already got the dirty talk down to a T.

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