Obama White House Has No Comments On Kameny’s Death

JayCarneyThe Washington Blade caught Jay Carney, the White House press spokesman, in an unusually flat-footed moment when seeking the president's reaction to the death of LGBT civil rights leader Frank Kameny. “I’ll have to take that," said Carney. "I know that he passed away, but I don’t have a comment on that."

Really? How's about "I know that he passed away, and we all obviously feel for his friends and colleagues"?

Or: "I know that he passed away, and I know we're all grateful for the work he's done over the years on behalf of American citizens …"

Nawp. Carny kicked the can down the road. Carney said he had no explanation for why the White House hadn't issued a statement on Kameny's death, and when asked whether President Obama would visit Mr. Kameny's body as it lies in state, Carney said, rather testily: "I'm not his scheduler."

Hey! The president's a busy guy! No hard feelings! But maybe just a little sentiment wouldn't hurt? A little bit of fellow-feeling?

The president's said nice things about Mr. Kameny before. As the Blade points out:

In 2009, Obama noted Kameny’s presence at the White House reception commemorating June as Pride month and called Kameny a "civil rights pioneer."

"Frank was fired from his job as an astronomer for the federal government simply because he was gay," Obama said. "And in 1965, he led a protest outside the White House, which was at the time both an act of conscience but also an act of extraordinary courage. And so we are proud of you, Frank, and we are grateful to you for your leadership."


  1. BABH says

    To the webmasters:
    Could you please start posting bylines at the head of the article instead of at the end?

    To the more computer savvy:
    Is there some way for me to block all posts by Brandon Thorp, so that I don’t have to waste time reading them?

  2. brenda says


    What you can do is stop reading the blog and keep your hateful comments to yourself. Most of us like Brandon Thorpe’s posts. It’s not cool to be shady and nasty.

  3. Dale says

    Gosh, maybe the president is a little busy right now. A statement is forth coming. He hasn’t commented on the Saudi Princes death either. Not all items in the news are the center of the universe. Can you give this guy a break?

  4. Tanner says

    Why is it that Andy’s weekend guys can’t help but post personal editorials in every single thing they post? Who the hell are these snarky twits? Did you hire the Queerty crew to cover weekends, Andy?

  5. Gregoire says

    I think you’re overreacting here. I highly doubt Jay Carney is up to anything suspicious. CALM DOWN.

  6. LiamB says

    It’s a blog, not a news site. They can add as much commentary as they wish. Don’t like it, don’t read it. As simple as that.

  7. brenda says

    Some of you need to go back to civil rights school and read Carol Hanisch’s essay entitled THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL: http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html

    Maybe then you wouldn’t be making idiotic, dumb, sit-on-your-hands-queers false criticism when you hear a well-developed personal voice in a blog post.

    Andy Towle includes his own personal voice and personal views in his blog posts too.

    Moreover, the selection of topics, choice of contributors, design–all these things can’t be divorced from subjectivity, or the personal.

    Grow up! I can’t believe some of you need to be schooled on human rights 101 stuff like this.

    You gay repub trolls always pass gas at the party.

  8. fierce urgency of whenever says

    Um, I may be wrong here, but I thought this was a blog and not the Times?
    I like the tone, I like the style and I really like the choice of topics. It’s different from all the other gay blogs.

    Personally, I think this white house speaker is tone deaf to our importance as voters. he must not have got the memo that we are not less than 1% of the voting population, but 10%.
    And Obama is going to need our votes next year like never before.

  9. Just_a_guy says

    I don’t share Brenda’s judgmental tone, but I agree with the cruxt of her point. I think many of us gay men (specifically gay men more than lesbians in part, because of anti-male feminists reinforcement and encouragement of anti-male-positive male homoflexibility) suffer from a shell shocked stigma more like the stigma of freed slaves in tony morrison’s writings than anything else I can think of. So we sometimes don’t support honest and fair criticism like this of otherwise-allies because a part of us just doesn’t want to believe that things aren’t already better. But they aren’t. And it’s ok for someone to point that out. And we SHOULDN’T give those we would like to think of as allies a free pass.

  10. BABH says

    My point is, like any media source that I consume regularly, I like some authors here while others are not worth my time. No doubt some New York Times readers enjoy Maureen Dowd, but putting her byline at the top of the article allows me to skip it without a second glance.

    No offense to Brandon, or to those who like his posts. Just not for me.

  11. Marshall says

    “It’s not cool to be shady and nasty.”

    And this is your defense of shady and mean-spirited over-writing by the weekend staff? Girllll ….

    Gary, Tanner and BABH have a very good point. Penn and Brandon over-write and over-snark. Andy does offer POV, but it’s very subtle or just a few words.

    And I’d rather see the author bylines at top as well. Towle, Rettenmund, Belonsky and Goff are fab. These weekend d-listers are trying to hard to be the nest Josh Kilmer Purcell. And that doesn’t say much.

  12. javo says

    C’mon….diversity! It’s OKAY to read different kinds of articles. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I support Andy and I trust his decisions. As long as it’s not offensive and hateful, it’s all good. I for one, am thankful that Andy gets us someone to read on the weekends. I read this site daily and I love the diverse subjects, opions, views that is on here.

  13. Gary says

    Andy Towle owns this blog. He chooses the content and the contributors. Therefore they are obviously in line with his world view. So if y’all wingnuts are uncomfortable with the more direct political commentary from our weekend buds I suggest you try GOProud where you will no doubt have no problem with cognitive dissonance.

  14. says

    Dear Marshall, et al:

    Thanks for reading. Sorry you dislike the snark in some of my posts. Ive been working for the last six months at Gawker, where snarkiness becomes a way of life. Im trying to wean myself off the stuff, and I beg your patience in the meantime.

    – BKT

  15. will says

    Brandon doesn’t seem to understand that Jay speaks for the president and can’t make up a reaction. He should have anticipated the question, I suppose, but Brandon’s suggestions for winging it are preposterous.

    I’ve always loved the tone of Towleroad. Let’s hope is doesn’t urn into another blather blog. It’s always been better than that.

  16. Michael Bedwell says

    FRANK DIED NEARLY TWO WEEKS AGO!!! However you spin it, Marshall, et al., you’re just playing “Shoot the Messenger” because you don’t like the message—so you’ve failed to hide your six little Barackroach legs.

    As I’ve said before, I’ll NEVER vote for ANY Repug but neither will I join the Marshalls of the world in throwing those six little legs in the air for ANY Dem politician when he or his staff screw up. Brandon’s rhetoricals were perfectly measured. Just because Carney [who conceded he already knew about Frank’s death] inexplicably hadn’t yet been given the Party Line about it [gee, what happen to that crackerjack great new White House LGBT liason our “leaders” were drooling over a couple of weeks ago?] is NO excuse for his not having winged it.

    TRANSLATION: “Thou Shall Not Toucheth Anything About The Gay Without Official Sanction And Script Else Thou Mightest Loseth Gayeth Hating Voters!”

    Hellooo? NO ONE who hates gays THAT much is EVER going to vote for Barack Obama.

    Look for some statement to be released. Michelle might even show up at the viewing. But that will NOT wipe away the stink of nothing having been released many days ago NOR Carney’s treating the death of this man who was a HUGE admirer and defender of the President as an untouchable subject.

  17. BABH says

    Brenda: “You gay repub trolls always pass gas at the party.
    Gary: “if y’all wingnuts are uncomfortable with the more direct political commentary from our weekend buds I suggest you try GOProud”

    Because anyone who disagrees with any single opinion you hold is a Republican? Even people who disagree with an unwarranted criticism of our Democratic President and his staff?

  18. Francis says

    Gosh, if you don’t like Brandon’s style, don’t click on the stories, in fact, just skip the weekend posts and come back on Monday. Really, some of you sound like whining children, and you think he’s the annoying one? Don’t take the criticism too hard, Brandon, you’re doing your job fine.

    Anyway, I agree that Carney’s job is to speak for the president. With that said, the fact that, clearly, little to no attention has been placed on Mr. Kameny’s death isn’t acceptable. Any decent response that shows they cared would have sufficed. It’s a lack of respect that we as a community shouldn’t take as lightly as some of you seem to be.

  19. ggggb says

    Everything I hear about this President literally like makes me hate him more. I think he’s terribly creepy — and I’m not a gay Republican! I’m as absolutely liberal as you could go. I’ve just always (specifically) disliked Obama and moments like this are the kind of moments that have helped me decide. There was like a theory of biography from a couple of thousand years ago or whatever, that specific moments were how leaders should be characterized — and this is one of those moments.

  20. says

    It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult for this White House to be likable – Obama often is. But “likable” frequently isn’t what you get. Nothing friendly about Carney’s statement. Carney is reined in from saying something sympathetic? Really? That’s either just weird or it’s revealing of a deep inner heartlessness in this White House. Or maybe Carney’s afraid to rile up Republicans – that’s seems to be the default position for Obama.

  21. Just_a_guy says

    I’m with Bedwell.

    @BABH, I’m intrigued by the force of your initial criticism, but am not sure exactly what “snark” the new TR writer should have validly cut. Regarding your latest post:

    I don’t think the allusions to GOProud and gay republicans that you quote are asserting that you endorse the Republican party. Aren’t they simply suggesting that someone who dogmatically and unquestioningly stands behind a party line behaves more like the currently-more-typical Republican than the currently-more-common keenly-obserevant Democrat supporter?

    In fact, this sort of honest criticism arguably could one day leverage the best of our two-party system and allow Republicans to show leadership on gay-equality issues. A start for them, of course, would be to stop making Fred Karger invisible.

    Still, I like the voices here. While I like critiques of the article-writers, I also would not want us to thereby be stifling the development of their voices–each inevitably individual. That said, not leading with author names for standard-fare pieces might maintain community and the TR brand. Accordingly, some uniformity in style seems wise, and we should probably appreciate those with an eye to maintaining it–with the warranted grains of salt, of course.

    Just my two cents.

  22. jamal49 says

    In case anyone failed to notice, the right-wing media (particularly the web-based media) has jumped on Frank Kameny’s advocacy for a period in his life of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association, an organization that I am not even sure exists anymore), which in the early days of the gay-rights movement (c. 1969 onward to about the early 1980s) had participated in many annual gay marches. Whatever one’s opinion of NAMBLA and its position on ephebephilia, it was probably a wise move not to have a public comment from the White House regarding Mr. Karney’s death, no matter how noble, brave and ground-breaking was his life-long commitment to fight for the civil rights of what we now refer to as LGBT people.

    I’m not saying this is a reason, but it may be a possibility. One shudders in horror if Faux and the red-state radio media got a hold of this and began to “fabricate” a firestorm of controversy over a very small period in the life of an otherwise great American.

    By the way, I agree with the majority of comments here. I like my news straight, so to speak. I don’t need it peppered with snarky, bitchy, opinionated commentary.

    Clean it up, son.

  23. says

    The WH spokesman being asked two weeks later about the death of an admittedly important person and not having a prepared statement is a non-story. It’s almost manufactured (by the asker) just to cause some kind of an issue. Kameny got his props from President Obama while he was alive. Move on.

    As for tone, etc.: People who don’t think blogs should have opinions are just angry their own uninformed, usually anonymous “opinions”/vitriol is getting upstaged. Go away if you don’t like it, or at least have the courtesy to register it as a criticism instead of in a snarky, snotty or nasty way.

  24. says

    And P.S. If any of you bitching about Kameny or any of you who think it’s just terrible that the WH didn’t have a statement on his death HAVE NOT contributed a dime to Kameny’s burial expenses (I have. It was easy.), you’re full of it.

  25. Michael Bedwell says

    Matthew, Matthew, Matthew. As one of the supposed “literati” of the gay community, your contribution to his funeral expenses are nothing but “30 pieces of silver” after your dismissal of one of our greatest heroes with, “Kameny got his props from President Obama while he was alive.” It is just about the most despicable example I’ve ever read of the unprecedented brainwashing by some of our own such that they ALWAYS default in defense of Obama, no matter what he does, over their own people.

    As I alluded above, from my PERSONAL discussions with Frank, I know that he thought Obama was pretty great himself, and did not hesitate to politely tell me that he thought the White House protest that I, Dan Choi, and 11 others were arrested for last November was misdirected because his opinion was that Obama was doing enough for DADT repeal.

    But I can also say this. Months later, Frank was personally hurt by the fact that gay Obama aide Brian Bond told him there was no room at the White House Pride celebration for THE father of the militant gay rights era again this year, and that however much he continued to admire him, Frank would NOT have defended Obama’s silence or Carney’s tied-tongue about the passing of any comparable civil rights pioneer.

    SHAME ON YOU, Mr. Rettenmund. But when the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian enshrine your immortal “Boy Culture,” “Encyclopedia Madonnica,” and “Hilary Duff: All Access” next to Frank’s papers, DO call us.

  26. BABH says

    Just a Guy: “@BABH, I’m intrigued by the force of your initial criticism.”

    My initial post was made in a tetchy mood on a Saturday morning before my coffee. I sincerely apologize to Brandon and to anyone else I may have offended.

    I love this site and I respect Andy’s editorial decisions. I respect Brandon and his fans, and would not dream of calling for his ouster. I just wish we could have bylines up by the headlines where they belong. This important in straight reporting, but even more important in op-eds or blog posts where authors are injecting a significant amount of commentary and editorializing. Readers have a right to know the slant of an article while they’re reading it.

  27. says

    Dear BABH:

    No worries. As I mentioned elsewhere, Im fresh from six months at Gawker and my writing style still defaults to Gawkerisme. Im still finding the appropriate Towleroadian voice, and I appreciate your patience.

    Hope youre having a lovely Saturday,
    – BKT

  28. Just_a_guy says

    Ouch! Lol. Gotta love tr comment sections. Or is this the devolution of comments that people ascribe to the likes of qeerty, or whatever that lesser blog is called, ha :–)? I’m amused, anyway. Good repartee.

    So were this white house staffer’s comments standard protocol or a glaring slight? To me, at the least, they seem an awkward fumble. I’m no wh insider, but I don’t think C.J. Kraig would have handled it so poorly. Convince me if I’m wrong…

  29. Gregoire says

    As evidenced by the comments on this thread, there’s no drama queen like a gay drama queen.

  30. brenda says

    Very noble of Brandon Thorpe to kowtow to those that bash him.

    But you don’t seem to care about responding to those that defend you and consistently note admiration for your writing, Brandon, here and elsewhere. I and others asked you questions and you ignore them in favor of kissing up to guys that show you no respect.

    You have really lost me as a fan.

    There’s other things to read on the weekend and I won’t be around to support your posts anymore.

  31. BABH says

    Develop your *own* voice, write from the heart, and an audience worthy of you will find you, no matter who your publisher is.

    Good luck!

  32. Nicholas says

    Be honest, how many of you even knew who Frank Kameny was? Go to a gay bar tonight and ask how many patrons recognize his name. I don’t think there was any conspiracy by the White House to diminish the guy but I dont think they can be expected to recognize every name thrown at them during a press briefing either.

  33. says

    Dear Brenda:

    My goodness. Sorry about that. Im pretty piecemeal in my responses, cuz Im trying to find new things to blog about.

    Specifically, Ive been looking for some good lesbian stories today — which I think was something you said you wanted to see more of. (That was you, right?) Unfortunately, the big lesbian news story of the day seems to be Rihanna leaving a Parisian hotel with a book of lesbian SM photos tucked under her arm. Try as I might, I cannot spin that into newsworthiness. (If youve got other tips, please send em along.)

    In any case, if you do stick around, and if you would like a response to one of your notes, please feel free to either shoot me an email, or begin a comment with Hey, Brandon or something along those lines. Im not unfriendly, and am happy to converse.

    Thanks for the kind words earlier,
    – BKT

  34. Just_a_guy says

    For what it’s worth, my “ouch” was dramatizing the impact of Bedwell’s latest comment about/to Rette. Amused as ever here.

  35. Marlee says

    Not to be rude, but Kameny just doesn’t sound like he’s on par with someone who the President of the United States needs to recognize, “papers in the Smithsonian” or not. I mean, this is the first African American President and he must be hyper careful who he “elevates” to his level. I’m sure Kameny was good is her day, but let’s not get it twisted…he’s NOT on par with the first AA Pres of the US.

  36. BABH says

    @Nicholas and Marlee: Wow, no. Anyone who’s ever read about or been involved in the gay rights movement in anything but the most superficial way knows who Frank Kameny is, and how tremendously important he was. Not knowing and acknowledging Frank Kameny would be like not knowing and acknowledging Larry Kramer. Frank was as important and well known as Harvey Milk. He just hasn’t had a movie made about him (yet).

  37. @Michael Bedwell says


    You donated to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (Smart choice there, champ.) during the 2008 Democratic primaries. You started your rants about Barack Obama months before he was elected. Why don’t you just fess up? You don’t like the guy because he’s Black.

  38. says

    Great post, do you mind if I re-blog this (with full attribution and linking)? I really want to share it with my readers, they would find it very useful.

  39. anon says

    I’m going to hazard a few guesses as to what is behind this. The first thing that comes to mind is that FK sued the federal govt. as a civilian federal employee. WH legal is probably worried that they should not invoke any kind of “precedent” that would encourage such suits. This would upset the chain-of-command obsession that permeates DC. The second is that FK stepped on the toes of more mainstream groups like HRC and GLAAD, who are busily raising money for BO’s campaign. The third thing is the current controversies surround AIDS and gay rights memorials (particularly in NYC) people are demanding. The problem is that the AIDS rights crowd wants more prominence in the overall gay rights movement than the older generation signified by FK would think fair. A lot of gay rights monuments are being fought over to become more AIDS related, and this turf battle is becoming a major distraction. Meanwhile, life goes on.

  40. jason says

    Obama is only interested in gays when he wants money off them. Maybe if they bring Kameny to a fundraiser, he’ll attend,

  41. Michael Bedwell says

    Gee, it didn’t take long for the Race Card to be thrown. Yeh, all those African-Americans like Cornell West and the Black Congressional Caucus who have also criticized Mr. Obama must just be self-loathing, I guess.

    The TOO GUTLESS TO SIGN HIS/HER OWN NAME ABOVE Bot chooses to forget that I fervently encouraged people to vote for Obama once he had the nomination—and chose to exclude the fact that I then donated to HIS campaign, too.

  42. Artie says

    The award for the strangest comment goes to Jamal49:

    “By the way, I agree with the majority of comments here. I like my news straight, so to speak. I don’t need it peppered with snarky, bitchy, opinionated commentary. Clean it up, son.”

    First, you don’t know how to count. The “majority” of comments don’t reflect your complaints. Second, if you like your news straight, go to a news site. Educate yourself and learn the difference between a blog and a news site. “Clean it up, son”? Um… I think Andy Towle calls those shots, don’t you?

    @ Michael Bedwell,

    How can I close without a nod to Bedwell? You are sometimes capable of fine commentary, as when you wrote that heartfelt comment on Americablog about Jamey Rodemeyer. You have to admit, however, that the commenter above (@Michael Bedwell) has your number concerning your personal crusade against Obama:

    “You started your rants about Barack Obama months before he was elected. Why don’t you just fess up? You don’t like the guy because he’s Black.”

    Your have slipped up so many times over the last few years, with your gleeful references to “massah”, “the plantation”, etc. People take John Aravosis’s commentary on Obama more seriously than they will ever take yours because he wasn’t railing against Obama during the 2008 primaries. You’re the only person I can think of who fantasizes that President Hillary Clinton “may well have channeled Joan Crawford”:


    Your jihad against Obama just has too much straight-female-worship, not to mention not-so-subtle racism.

  43. Michael Bedwell says

    Artie, Artie, Artie. How you, too, cherry pick the facts, play the Race Card, remain too cowardly to sign your full name, AND prove my point about how sick this Personality Cult has become. “Jihad”???? Really. Why not issue a “Fatwa” because I’ve dared disagree against YOUR “Mohammed.” And, no, numbskull, that doesn’t mean I believe Obama is a “secret Muslim.”

    The fact remains that you, too, are playing Shoot the Messenger rather than addressing the Message itself. And, no, even if I WERE a “straight-female-worship[ing] racist” that wouldn’t change the facts about Obama’s weaknesses. You haven’t proved me wrong, and this further demonstration of how shallow the White House’s feelings for gay issues actually is only proves me right going all the way back to 2007.

    Now about Obama, Inc., trying to kill the ACLU class action on behalf of discharged gays cheated out of severance pay……… Oh, I get it: the ACLU must be run by straight-female-worship[ing] racists.

  44. Alan says

    I don’t understand all the nastiness in the comments on this entry. That said, I’d agree, I generally like to see bylines/credits at the beginning of things rather than at the end. Frankly, I hadn’t noticed that posts on this blogs were from multiple authors.

  45. Paul R says

    This is a blog. If you want to see the author, scroll to the bottom of the article before reading it. I think Brandon is doing a fine job. Different writers have different styles and goals. As others have said, don’t read what bothers you.

  46. Marshall says

    Brandon: Point very well taken. My apologies for the extra tone in my response.

    Welcome aboard and congrats on your accomplishments. FWIW: Some years ago, I also was one of Nick Denton’s minions at Gawker Media. I know the “snark” programming too well.

  47. Artie says

    @ Marshall,

    Thank you for remarking on the obvious conflict of interest which “Stuffed Animal” constantly displays. His site is dedicated to Christian propaganda, complete with a graphic of Jesus being scourged. Please ask this Xtian fundie to stop posting.

  48. says

    wow–this is a first for me–having financed my undergrad degree as a proofreader for campus publications and trying to help AfterElton.com look more professional by pointing out at least 3 times a week errors in grammar or typos, since they don’t bother to proofread their stuff–this is the first time I’ve had to do the same for this site: “…for the work he’s done over they years on…”should really read “..the years…”

  49. Greg says

    @ Brandon and Andy:

    Have you read Marshall’s linked post by this “Stuffed Animal” that attacks Andy and Towleroad? Some of the remarks are quite vicious indeed.

    Stuffed Animal’s blog mocks many fine gay activists and institutions. Some of the blogs are very lewd. It is very telling that this so-called “Stuffed Animal” allows no comments at his blog.

    Why does this so-called “gay Christian” call himself a “stuffed animal”? Please reconsider his posting privileges. Thank you.

  50. Inside says

    The brutal fact for the gay community is, Obama’s just isn’t that into you. He is in full campaign mode – with a lot of golf on the side.

    You can give him your thoughts directly if you pay $38,000 for a photo with him, when he comes by to your town.

    2.7 million of the 56 million Obama has raised for re-election has come from 12 prominent gay and lesbian advocates, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s nearly 5 percent of the money all of Obama’s bundlers have raised.

    These gay and lesbian rainmakers include:

    Charles Myers, of Evercore Partners, who has bundled at least $500,000
    Eugene Sepulveda, of Austin, Texas, who bundled at least $500,000
    Andrew Tobias, a writer and treasurer of the DNC, who bundled at least $500,000
    Dana Perlman and Barry Karas, of Los Angeles, who bundled at least $500,000
    Wally Brewster and Bob Satawake, of Chicago, who bundled at least $100,000
    Terry Bean, of Portland, Ore., who bundled at least $200,000
    Kathy Levinson, former president and CEO of E-trade, who bundled at least $200,000
    Laura Ricketts, of Ecotravel LLC in Chicago, who bundled at least $100,000
    Jeff Soref, of New York, who bundled at least $100,000
    Fred Eychaner, of Chicago, who bundled at least $50,000
    Paul Horning, of Atlanta, who bundled at least $50,000
    Kevin Jennings, the former Department of Education official, who bundled at least 50,000

    There are a lot of A-listers working hard to re-elect our Fierce Advocate.