Barack Obama | DOMA | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | News | Steve Hildebrand

Steve Hildebrand to LGBT Netroots: 'Don't Hate Obama'

Obama's former deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand introduced himself to a group of LGBT leaders and media at Netroots Nation yesterday with three words — "Don't Hate Obama". In a follow-up interview with Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate, he told her that criticism of the President from the progressive blogging community has gone a bit overboard at times.

Hildebrand "My three words were simple – Don’t hate Obama – and if I would have had a chance to elaborate, I would have said, ‘This is a guy who isn’t going to do things exactly the way you want him to do, but know that his heart is in the right place. He has his priorities, they’re in line with our priorities and he’s going to do them at his pace. That at the end of this four-year period, and ideally an additional four years, I don’t think the gay community will be disappointed with the progress that we made under this president."

On 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':

"I’ve made it very clear that I believe the approach the president has taken to secure passage of DADT is the right strategy. I’m at odds with many in the gay community about that, but if we don’t have the support of military leadership for repeal of DADT, members of Congress in the Senate will use that as an excuse to oppose it and we will never have the votes in the House and the Senate to pass repeal if we don’t have the military leadership."

Hildebrand says he doesn't believe that Congress will ever have the guts to repeal DOMA but he believes the Justice Department needs to stop defending it:

"I’m very perplexed on the administration’s continued defense of DOMA in the courts. The Justice Department is not required to defend laws passed by Congress -- they have a history of doing it but it’s not a requirement. Their ultimate duty is to defend the Constitution of the United States and if Congress passes a law that is discriminatory and doesn’t pass muster of constitutionality, the Justice Department in my opinion should not defend those laws. In fact, they should find ways to make sure that those laws are stricken down by the courts. I’d like to see the president and Attorney General Holder announce that they will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act and to agree with the judge’s findings in the Massachusetts’ court case."

Read Eleveld's full interview HERE.

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  1. Sorry, Steve, but we didn't vote for Obama "Doing His Own Thing In His Own Time."

    I hate Obama. The man is a bigot, and he'll not be getting my vote again.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 22, 2010 11:54:15 AM

  2. I mostly agree with Steve. But I think Obama should be putting major pressure on Gates to get a life and some cojones.

    Posted by: David R. | Jul 22, 2010 11:56:21 AM

  3. He seems altogether too reasonable to get a good reception among purists. I don't care for the "his heart's in the right place" (except in terms of not hating him/vilifying him as a bigot), but I think he's right that hating Obama is cutting off our noses to spite our gayfaces. But he's also right to call out DOMA as unrepealable. DOMA needs to die via the courts, and its death is NOT being helped along by Obama.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jul 22, 2010 11:58:49 AM

  4. "Don't Hate Obama." Spoken like a true KAPO.

    It's not about hate. It's about being played and lied to.

    For a vast number of reasons Obama is dead to me.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jul 22, 2010 12:05:27 PM

  5. Don't Hate Obama his heart is in the right place.
    Don't Hate the Congress their hearts are in the right place.
    Don't hate Clinton, his heart was in the right place.
    Don't hate the Democrats their hearts are in the right place.

    Can we have a donation please? Our hearts are in the right place.
    Trust me.

    Until we exert some power and demonstrate they need us for an election or money, they will always take advantage of us.

    Posted by: Ervs | Jul 22, 2010 12:16:15 PM

  6. "He seems altogether too reasonable to get a good reception among purists."

    That would be fine, except what was that campaign slogan? Oh, yeah, "change you can believe in". At the very least, Obama has been, shall we say, "opportunistic" with support from the gay community.

    And, anyways, how exactly does pandering to the reactionary right blogosphere in episodes like the Shirley Sherrod affair count as being "reasonable"?

    Posted by: petes | Jul 22, 2010 12:21:44 PM

  7. I don't hate Obama. I'm not willing to put that much effort into him.

    I deeply regret, however, that somewhere between the campaign and the inauguration, his backbone fell out and he decided to lean to the right and grasp Rick Warren so as not to topple over.

    NO hope. NO change, NObama.

    Posted by: WorldOJeff | Jul 22, 2010 12:21:44 PM

  8. as a 49yr old american TAX PAYING citizen this thoroughly Disgusts me - how FAR BEHIND OUR country is on EQUALITY for ALL Citizens....Liberty & Justice for ass....they ARE EMPTY MEANINGLESS WORDS..that make america sound better then it actually is in's a LIE! I could really puke. IF I come into some kind of "windfall"....Im taking that money and getting the Hell out of this Hateful,bigoted Lie of a country!

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Jul 22, 2010 12:24:52 PM

  9. Rachel Maddow had Dahlia Lithwick on last night to talk about the Kagan confirmation process and both agreed that Obama could have nominated a true liberal to her seat, he had the political capital and the momentum and he blew his wad on this careerist moderate who will likely be as timid in her rulings as she has been in her career thus far. This to me says everything about Obama---he is as beholden to the status quo and the powers-that-be as any Rethug. He doesn't want change, he doesn't give a shit about a liberal agenda or social equality, he only wants to hold onto power.

    That he is the lesser of many evils is no reason to give this man a pass on anything. He lied, our hope died. End of story.

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 22, 2010 12:30:26 PM

  10. Come 2012, unless Alan Grayson, or someone like him is running for POTUS....then I'll HOLD MY NOSE and Vote for Obama again...Only this time, NO $$$ (cause I'll NEVER Vote Republican)

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Jul 22, 2010 12:32:00 PM

  11. "He lied, our hope died. End of story."

    Oh, whatever. I am continually amazed at how taken in otherwise smart people were by Obama's campaign slogans. He's just a guy, and a politician at that. If you really believed that 1) he had the power to fundamentally change the system and 2) he *would* fundamentally change the system, then you are gullible--period.

    Now that the bubble has inevitably burst, everyone who let themselves be sweet-talked is again overreacting, but this time in the opposite direction. Obama is not the gay antichrist and he is not a homophobe. He's a center-left politician who wants to move in small steps, as he said over and over again during the campaign when talking about policy.

    But by all means, if endless primal screams about hope and change make you feel better, knock yourselves out.

    Posted by: jersey | Jul 22, 2010 12:37:08 PM

  12. fuck you hildebrand.

    Posted by: gaylib | Jul 22, 2010 12:49:49 PM

  13. To be fair, though, we have to remember:



    We can BELIEVE in it. Like we BELIEVE in Santa Claus.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Jul 22, 2010 12:56:50 PM

  14. @JERSEY: Good post, but now prepare for the pile on...

    Posted by: HawaiiBill | Jul 22, 2010 1:00:30 PM

  15. "Military leadership" support ending the ban? How about the Secretary of Defense and Chair of the Joint Chiefs? They say they support it....yet discharges continue day after day as Obama defends DADT in court this very week....EVEN THOUGH LCR offered to postpone the lawsuit IF the government would stop discharges pending the repeal they TELL us is inevitable and they REFUSED. At BEST, at the EARLIEST, "repeal" would not kick in until February of next year which means hundreds MORE discharged between now and then.

    And remember when the Obambots and Robert Gibbs insisted that a freeze was bad because it wouldn't be a "permanent solution"? Well, Gates got Obama to agree to force our allies in Congress to trash the Military Readiness Enhancement Act which would have banned discrimination against gays in the miitary BY LAW. So, now even if Gates agrees to end discharges...a future President could order them to start again anytime he or SHE wanted.

    " As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military. That work should have started long ago. It will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. All that is required is leadership." - Barack Obama, job application, November 29, 2007.

    “Equality is a moral imperative. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind a fully inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBT Americans. I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership.” – Barack Obama, job application, February 28, 2008.

    Posted by: Michael @ | Jul 22, 2010 1:15:55 PM

  16. Overidealize and overblame. Like children.

    Posted by: 24play | Jul 22, 2010 1:26:03 PM

  17. "But by all means, if endless primal screams about hope and change make you feel better, knock yourselves out."

    Don't be a fucktard. If a politician campaigns on promises and then fails to deliver them, those who elected him based on those promises have every reason and right to hold him accountable, and yes, to feel let down. Obama's 'change we can believe in" was a campaign slogan that, like all slogans, was coined to sum up the substance of what he offered the nation. Throwing that slogan back in his face is not "primal screaming" to make oneself feel better, it is calling a liar on his shit in the most economical way possible.

    No one who voted for Obama thought he would or could change the system. But just as the Repugs under Bush gamed the system to get every single agenda item they wanted over eight years, it is entirely reasonable to believe that Obama could game the system to make good on some of what he promised America. He has chosen not to (and please, if you think the DOA health bill is an exception than, yes, you are gullible indeed). The Democrats and the White House are not inept--they roll over and throw their legs in the air for the Repugs and corporate lobbyists because they share a common master---global capitalism. Perhaps this is obvious in retrospect, but after 8 years of Bush lies and deceit, I don't think it was terribly naive of the nation to believe Obama would do better, nor do I think it is terribly gullible to feel betrayed that he hasn't and he won't.

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 22, 2010 1:43:36 PM

  18. Translation: "
    Shut up, sit-down, write us a check...and wait in the kitchen 'til 2015 for some table-sweepings. Oh, and don't hold your breath since we might not be around in 2013."

    Posted by: Ted B. | Jul 22, 2010 1:45:39 PM

  19. @HawaiiBill: I don't expect much pile-on. Lashing out is much easier than engagement.

    Posted by: jersey | Jul 22, 2010 1:46:14 PM

  20. How can anyone listen to this propagandist after game changer?

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 22, 2010 1:54:40 PM

  21. @ 24play

    and it's adult to expect nothing so that you're never disappointed?

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 22, 2010 1:54:57 PM

  22. Like the previous comments, Obama's people suck. Don't tell me that progressives have failed Obama. He has failed progressives. It isn't just one thing, like Don't Ask, Don't tell. It is the entire progressive agenda: one payer health care, Guantanamo and the violations of human rights in fighting the so-called "War" on terror, the cat food commission that is about to ream seniors of their Social Security, Rahm Emmanuel, and on and on. Obama is a damned Blue Dog Democrat. His disrespectful attitude toward progressives is altogether evident. I don't hate him, but don't expect me not to be looking for someone to primary him in 2014.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Jul 22, 2010 2:03:35 PM

  23. "I don't think it was terribly naive of the nation to believe Obama would do better, nor do I think it is terribly gullible to feel betrayed that he hasn't and he won't."

    I'm sorry you feel that way, Christopher, and I see where you're coming from. The crux of our disagreement is probably here:

    "it is calling a liar on his shit"

    I don't think Obama lied and it's not his shit. What we have seen is how politics works when you don't have enough liberals to pass liberal bills. Obama seems to have wanted to work on an 8-year plan for gay rights--one major promise per Congress (hate crimes, DADT, ENDA, DOMA, though I think legislative repeal of DOMA has always been a pipe dream). With the prospect of an imminent GOP takeover of the House, that's not good enough and we should keep pushing. It's only because of constant pressure from the gay community and its allies that DADT even came up this year.

    It's one thing to take inaction on gay rights personally and feel angry, betrayed, disillusioned -- these are very personal and emotional issues and it's understandable to feel that way. I left a few nasty voice messages after the recent marriage vote in the NJ state senate. For us, the political is personal. But it doesn't help anyone to react to *completely predictable* slow-footing by federal officials with unhinged attacks and recriminations.

    IMO, SLDN is the organization dealing with the situation best -- be forceful, be calm, and when you have an opportunity to make something happen, make it happen, even if it's not perfect. As long as support for the more controversial parts of the gay rights agenda hovers in the 40-60% range, that's just how this process is going to work.

    Posted by: jersey | Jul 22, 2010 2:08:09 PM

  24. Jersey: please tell us what you've done to engage this debate other than making the wholly unsupportable claim that Obama on the campaign trail promised to make mincing little steps towards the center if elected

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 22, 2010 2:13:12 PM

  25. Well, for one, I spent months working 12 hours a day, every day, for almost no money, in Maine and New Jersey canvassing, making phone calls, and coordinating volunteers to try to achieve marriage equality. But it doesn't take on-the-ground experience or a Mensa IQ to do the math on potential votes in Congress for trans-inclusive ENDA, DOMA repeal, or single-payer health care.

    Posted by: jersey | Jul 22, 2010 2:28:02 PM

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