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  • « A quiet blog | Main | The emasculation of Big »

    June 07, 2008

    Yesterday's Obama LGBT conference call

    Posted by: Andoni

    (Sub-healine: HRC endorses Obama, see below.)

    Elizabeth

    Last evening the Obama campaign held a conference call with 1200 LGBT activists from around the country in order to update people on campaign plans moving forward. The first order of business was to invite gays who were Senator Clinton supporters into the Obama family.

    After a short welcome from Obama's Deputy Campaign Manager (and LGBT community member) Steve Hildebrand, Elizabeth Birch, former head of the Human Rights campaign (HRC), recounted how it felt to be a long time Hillary Clinton supporter at this moment, now that the nomination has slipped from her grasp. She described an immense sadness and repeatedly alluded to how you feel when you see a “vanquished warrior” or “fallen warrior.”

    Birch has two children of mixed race, a daughter and a son. She confided that although she was hoping that her daughter would see that it was possible for a woman to become president of the United States, now she realizes that it was just as important for her son to see that a person of color can become president. Her message was that after a period mourning, Clinton supporters should rally around Obama. It is imperative that Obama prevails for LBT rights to move forward.

    Joe Solmonese, current head of HRC joined the conference call from somewhere along the side of road between San Francisco and Los Angeles, participating in a California AIDS bike ride. He announced that HRC had just endorsed Senator Obama for president. He then urged all LGBT people to get behind Obama so that we can pass workplace equality, hate crimes legislation, repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and get more AIDS funding. What struck me most about Joe’s comments is how narrow his view is. He simply parrots the very limited HRC legislative agenda. Here we have a candidate who espouses just about total equality for gays, from actively advocating repealing all of DOMA to providing federal benefits for gay couples, and all Joe sees is the few crumbs that are the HRC legislative agenda.

    Mixner

    Next up was David Mixner to provide a testimonial to how welcoming the Obama campaign was to him and all the John Edwards supporters after his candidate dropped out of the race. He said he understood how people feel when their candidate doesn’t win because he felt the same thing with Edwards, but that the Obama people were the most welcoming of any campaign he has ever encountered. He emphasized that Obama has explicitly come out against both the Florida and California marriage initiatives.

    Barack Obama himself was not on the conference call yesterday because it was his day off. He is scheduled for future calls. Because there were 1200 people on the line, they could not answer questions. However, people emailed questions and they will be answered individually.

    Finally, Hildebrand announced that Brian Bond, Kevin Jennings, and Melissa Etheridge will be joining the campaign in various capacities. Brian will oversee the recruitment of all constituencies, not just the LGBT community. Melissa will be co-chair of the 50 state voter registration and mobilization campaign.

    After listening in to the conference call, I concluded that the LGBT community is indeed an important part of Obama’s campaign, and that we have people placed in some very high positions there.

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    Comments

    1. Kris Jones on Jun 7, 2008 10:53:02 AM:

      He needs to step up to the plate and support gay marriage, I will support Obama who is the most inexperienced presidential candidate in US history,otherwise I'm voting for the more experienced Sen McCain.

      HRC should demand that he support gay marriage!! Ellen should ask Obama why he doesn't support gay marriage, and if she can get married in his anti-American, racist, Socialist church.


    1. Cj on Jun 7, 2008 1:22:21 PM:

      Hoping changes will come soon. I was on the call myself and Joe did have a narrow response. As a veteran who was discharged for Gay-ishness, custody battle for my son with family who relocated to Florida because of my Gay-ishness, harassed by employers on the police department who wanted to know if I was "Still like that?", surviving AT&T who wanted me to know that I wouldn't get benefits for my same-sex partner via inter-office memo and currently trying to survive a binational relationship with my UK partner; I hope the Obama campaign can change the tide coming from a big ocean of ignorance I've been surfing on for 20 years. Or this Gulf War disabled veteran will be getting a UK passport and signing my marriage certificate there.

    1. Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest) on Jun 7, 2008 1:41:17 PM:

      I wonder if the Obama campaign will include gay conservatives on his calls as the McCain campaign has included left-of-center bloggers on its blogger conference calls.

    1. Wes on Jun 8, 2008 2:26:06 AM:

      Kris, Obama is indeed likely one of the most inexperienced candidates the Dems could dream up. Personally, I think the choice is awful. But I will somehow hold my nose and vote for him. And really, if you are voting for a candidate primarily based upon his likely advancement of GLBT civil rights, you would have to be at least moderately mentally challenged to vote for McCain. McCain is not even willing to support civil unions. In fact, he is even to the right of W on this and I would say that he is more dangerous than W on our civil rights issues. What kind of Supreme Court justices do you think McCain will appoint? He will do his best to find the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts ilk. How much support will McCain give to the myriad of GLBT issues that we are trying to see advanced? Given his track record-- ZILCH.

      But I do not just consider GLBT issues when deciding who to support. I also look for the candidate that I think will protect this country's national economic security interest (if we are weak economically we cannot pay for a defense). Unfortunately, the Republicans have devasted this country's economic security. Osama bin Laden clearly indicated that al Qaeda would not likely be succesful at defeating the USA militarily. But he felt he could defeat us economically by having us spend our hard borrowed dollars (borrowed from the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and anyone else dumb enough to lend to us) until we were bankrupt. The sad excuses for leaders in D.C. have done exactly that and are spending us into bankruptcy at the rate of $15 billion flushes a month in Iraq. The Euro has gone from roughly parity with the dollar to buying $1.55 . Oil? Inflation? The oversupply of money by the Fed? Commodities? No supervision of investment banks? How are things looking here economically? If the government put out accurate inflation numbers Jimmy Carter would look pretty good.

      Yeah I would like for Obama to grow some uh...guts... and be for gay marriage. But I am realistic, too. I know that politicians do not lead the crowd. If you think they are going to do that you are smoking mota or something.

      But it comes down to who in the world else are you going to vote for? You are going to vote for McCain? The man that has a truly rotten record on GLBT issues? The man that has a truly rotten record of causing an unbelievable deterioration of our country economically over the past 8 years due to misadventures? I understand why it is hard to vote for Obama. I'm going to be taxed out the kazoo with these socialist Democrats. But I have to think that the Dems will be better than what we have seen over the past 8 years. How could they be worse....

    1. Hawyer on Jun 8, 2008 1:03:56 PM:

      As a Democrat with a preference for Hillary (note I didn't say enthusiast!) - I waxed wistfully yesterday 07-Jun-08 at her concession rally --- where she actually addressed the country directly --- among such designations - deigning to utter the words "Both gay and straight"

      Now I look at our nominee: Barack Obama. What a relief that we have a white man running (Hey - I can identify with his mama's side, can't I? I still find it fatuous that he's identified - front, right, and center - as a black man) ... which is troublesome to me. I fear his "identity" politics is about to overshadow his "capability" politics. Don't believe for a minute the pundit nonsense that he's running a post-racial candidacy.

      The Republicans smear machine will make Willie Horton look like Booker T. Washington. And it's already cranking up.

      Now if that makes me sound like an old school cracker bigot, you don't know a thing about me. It's just that I find it surrealistic that we Democrats have once again nominated a general election loser --- too out of the mainstream to navigate the byzantine electoral college to the finish line. (In the euphoria of Obama-mania -- PLEASE do not underestimate the capacity for the American electorate to put a dud in the oval office. Can you say Two-Term-Mandate-W?)

      OMG - do I hope I'm wrong! Just wake me up on the morning of November 5 -- shake me --- and let me know whether I need to pack my bags. I'm way to old to say President McCain -- even though I'm 20 years younger than he is!

    1. Eva Young on Jun 14, 2008 4:05:16 PM:

      Which left of center bloggers has McCain included on his conference calls?

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