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    December 05, 2008

    Affirmative action for Beltway gays

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    We are often reminded how limited our political capital is in Washington, and why as a result we should lower our sights and limit lobbying to largely uncontroversial, long-promised hate crime and employment non-discrimination. If we're too weak to push for relationship recognition -- you know, the issue the gays are actually marching in the streets -- then why exactly are we squawking about this?:

    Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, sent a letter to Obama this week asking him to name labor leader Mary Beth Maxwell, a lesbian, as labor secretary. Solmonese said that he did not believe there had been an openly gay Cabinet member before, but he's confident that will change with Obama.

    ''Not only will we expect it, but we fully believe that it will happen,'' he added.

    Why? Because even though an openly gay cabinet secretary has almost no significance in real gay lives, affirmative action for juicy administration jobs is the kind of prize that Solmonese et al will always keep their eyes on.

    UPDATE

    It turns out that in addition to being tangential, the HRC/Solonese push suffered from the usual level of incompetence:

    Today, the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign will release a letter to President-elect Barack Obama strongly backing [Mary Beth Maxwell for Labor Secretary]. The catch: The group last week backed Rep. Linda Sanchez for the post.

    “You would have received our letter in support of Representative Sánchez’s candidacy for Secretary of Labor last week,” HRC President Joe Solmonese writes, asking for a mulligan. “While we remain supportive of Representative Sánchez’s candidacy, it has come to our attention that Mary Beth Maxwell is also being considered for this crucial position. Given Ms. Maxwell’s long history of leadership on labor issues, HRC is pleased to also endorse Mary Beth Maxwell for Secretary of Labor.”

    Would that those who oppose our equality were so blessed in their selection of "leaders."

    Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

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    Comments

    1. mademark on Dec 5, 2008 11:44:36 AM:

      Last week HRC supported Linda Sanchez for the job. Then they found out Maxwell was in the running so they switched. It gives the appearance that, as you say, we're about affirmative action and the dreaded quotas. While I'd love to see a high profile lesbian in the job, there's the matter of principle: if they supported Sanchez a week ago, they should support her now, not yank it back because a gay person is suddenly on the short list.

      As an aside, I hope someday we will stop saying 'openly gay' and 'openly lesbian.' We are either gay or we are not. It plays in a subliminal way into the idea that it's a choice (which is a fine and honorable choice, of course) by presenting it as something we can be 'open' about or not. I suspect it's a leftover from the media not wanting to 'out' anyone, but it's annoying. I'm not openly gay. I'm a gay man who lives my life freely and if anybody doesn't like it, screw 'em.

    1. Tim C on Dec 5, 2008 6:47:37 PM:

      "Oh, did we say Linda Sanchez? Nevermind." What nincompoops.

    1. Kris on Dec 6, 2008 12:32:07 PM:

      As usual HRC Joe is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Ask any Transgendered American about Joe.

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