The White House’s Charm Offensive

Picture 30The White House is organizing a tour to reach out to LGBT Americans around the country. From the Obama administration's Office of Communications:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) will partner with key Departments and Agencies to host a series of conferences around the country specifically focused on LGBT Americans.  From February to June 2012, OPE will convene these White House LGBT Conferences to provide grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students, and interested citizens an opportunity to hear directly from the Administration on our efforts to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.

So — agencies responsible for housing, health, whathaveyou will partner with the OPE, rent a hall, roll into town, and talk to you. The first engagement of the administration's charm offensive will take place in Philly on February 16th, and shall feature Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Venue TBA, and ditto with subsequent engagements — though the press release promises sessions devoted to "Housing & Homelessness, Safe Schools & Communities, and HIV/AIDS Prevention."

By the way — the press release went out over email. I tried and failed to find the original announcement at If you should come across it, please do post the link.


  1. RWG says

    How many such meetings do you expect to get from the GOP?

    The GOP candidates have all promised to reinstate DADT, resume vigorously defending DOMA in Federal Court and to promote a Federal Marriage Amendment.

    Is that more to your liking?

  2. Christopher Daley says

    Wow, talk about misplaced snark. The executive agencies under Obama have significantly transformed ours and our families’ relationship with the federal government. No doubt this tour is about the re-election but these agency heads have been leading significant reform over the last three years; a victory lap is well deserved.

  3. FunMe says

    So they really do miss the GAYTM, huh?

    Talk is cheap. Just get the damn thing done as in out with DOMA and in with ENDA!

    BEFORE the Election. (They’re so transparent, it’s mot even funny.)

  4. jason says

    This is yet more White House pandering. I don’t want meetings, I want my rights. The White House is simply engaging in the art of sucking up to us in order to win our votes.

    Memo to White House: thanks but no thanks.

  5. MattS says

    Lot of negative response to this article. Interesting, because I was thinking this is a pretty cool gesture for Obama and his administration. Has anyone besides me considered that Obama has been careful not to move too fast on marriage equality to insure he gets a second term (by not alienating some of his more conservative voters)? Maybe I’m naive, but his decision to not enforce DOMA in the courts, lead from behind on DADT and that his position on gay marriage is “evolving” to me means that in his second term he will introduce legislation to insure these rights for GLBT citizens. And let’s not forget about redirecting foreign aid to countries who support GLBT citizens. Sure, he could do more, but he has done more than any president to date.

  6. says

    Guys, just remember, your only hope in the next election to get the things you want, is to ensure you have Dems in majority in both The House and The Senate. If you don’t (as has happened at the moment) you have no chance of them passing. And, yes, there are cases working towards SCOTUS on DOMa, but they are not yet a done deal, not with the current court…

  7. josh says

    When did a previous President have his administration schedule multiple conferences with the LGBT community in states across America?

    President Obama is the only President to have signed gay rights laws (hate crimes law and DADT repeal).

    He has stopped defending DOMA and he has given hospital visitation rights to gays.

    How can some of you act like he is homophobic?

    He has literally done more for our community than any other President.

    He will be in the history books where gay rights is concerned.

  8. jason says


    There has already been a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate. It happened during the current term of Obama. Nothing of significance happened in this period.

    Perhaps you should worry about getting some basic rights in Australia, first. I heard that you don’t have gay marriage in any of the states there. Try harder.

  9. Kenn says

    I am not surprised by the heat this is generating…and deservedly so! However, these meetings should be very well attended. Attendees should present an emphatic response at each meeting letting the charmers know that in return for our support we expect nothing less than that our votes be translated into a vigorous push for full marriage equality in each and every state and full equality, whether one chooses to marry or not, for LGBT Americans everywhere. Nothing short of that, is expected by the end of the second term in office.

  10. says

    Actually, Jason, a number of significant things happened during Obama’s 1st term (others have listed them), even when there wasn’t a filibuster-proof majority, which is the only way to get past (mostly Republican) obstructionism in DC. And, anything that will get done during Obama’s 2nd term will not be thanks to a Republican majority, that’s for sure. It will depend on how many Dem’s are in power and what Obama can do with his DOJ. Stu is correct. Though the court cases are also important, another reason why we want Obama filling any SC vacancies, and not homophobes-in-chief like Romney or Gingrich.

  11. says

    Thank you JOSH.

    And, btw, Obama, as the excellent constitutional scholar who understands and respects the limits of executive power, HAS done what he can on DOMA, it’s a law so he can’t just “get rid of it.” It’s the repugs who are spending scarce resources defending it. Sheesh!

  12. Paul R says

    These meetings are going to be a nightmare. Lots of yelling and not much else, because everyone who attends will be angry and nothing new will come out of them. I pity the officials who have to lead them.

  13. Reality says

    You bitter people are tireless, and annoying. Homophobe in chief? You don’t even know what you’re talking about, you sound as ignorant as a republican presidential candidate.

  14. Paul R says

    @Reality: well there are some dumb posters here, but I’m not sure they’re *that* dumb aside from two who I won’t name.

    This is why the meetings are a waste of time. Shrill people will show up in droves, ruining a chance for honest engagement. But beyond all that, this is a painfully transparent effort at fundraising. Insincere bugs me a lot.

  15. Terry says

    I’m sure President Romney, with the support of the Mormon Church, will usher in complete, total equality for GLBT Americans the very first day in office. Since there is such blind hatred towards the “Homophobe in Chief” currently in the White House and you’d prefer the alternative.

  16. Brad says

    @Reality & Josh: Let’s see if I can refresh your memory. Obama had nothing to do with the hate crimes legislation. The heavy lifting on that one was completed by members of congress and the work was pretty much done by the time Obama signed it, though he loves to take credit for it. Obama had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the fight against DADT and even then he made sure to drag it out as long as possible, very nearly losing the battle. It was in his power to stop enforcing DADT but he chose to do so right up until the very bitter end. His Justice department is still carrying out a vicious grudge case against Dan Choi for his role in protesting DADT. His administration is still limiting payments by half to troops discharged under DADT. Those discharged under DADT are still being treated as if they are dishonorable. He was for same-sex marriage before he was against it. He may not be enforcing DOMA, but he isn’t doing a thing to get rid of it. Bi-national couples are still being ripped apart by Obama’s immigration department. He has never lifted a finger in helping our community. He gives lots of pretty speeches, gives cocktail parties for the elites at HRC but when it comes to real leadership on LGBT issues, he’s not there. Friendly homophobes are really no different from antagonistic ones. Neither will fight for us. One leaves you with no doubt on his stance. One will give you conferences and cocktail receptions while working against you in the background. Obama is just doing the conferences because he wants your campaign money and your votes and he hopes that you’ll forget how often he’s thrown you under the bus in the last 3 years. If you don’t know what’s going on then you’re not paying attention and YOU are the ignorant one.

  17. says

    “Friendly homophobes are really no different from antagonistic ones.”

    In reality, Brad, they are different. Labeling the president with the most pro-gay policies in history a homophobe seems a stretch (or a lie), but, in any event: DADT would not have happened on a Republican president’s watch, ditto hate crimes expansion to include lgbt people, ditto DOJ ending defense of DOMA, ditto visitation rights, ditto reasonable SC nominees etc. If that’s what a “friendly homophobe” in the White House means, I’ll take it. (You also misunderstand how the office of the president works. Was he perfect? No. Was he the obstructionist you paint him to be? No. It’s Congress’s job to craft legislation.)

    Under the leadership of any of the viable(ish–none are particularly viable) Republicans currently seeking the presidency, NONE of those things would have happened, not one. Instead, DADT would be the law of the land, a constitutional marriage amendment would be given the green light, the DOJ would be attacking binational couples and defending every DOMA case going thru the court system, hate crimes would cover the religious but not us, some would even meddle in a state’s right to pass equality (those selective advocates for state’s rights), and the list goes on. That’s what an antagonistic homophobe is. Just cause they’re honest about doesn’t make them preferable. Rick Santorum is a really honest homophobe, so should we prefer him to that “secret homophobe” Obama?

    Of course Obama wants our votes. All politicians want votes and campaign money. But I’d certainly prefer a president who panders to me than one who panders to people who seek to destroy our lives. We’ll vote for Obama in 2012 with open eyes and a functioning brain that knows which direction he’s headed, the same direction mainstream Dem’s across the country are headed (hint: equality). Some will give $, some won’t. Their choice. The one thing we know for 100% sure is that he will be the pro-gay candidate. Anyone who would like to offer an electable and more pro-gay alternative must have some extremely top secret information. Cause the rest of us don’t know who that is? Any suggestions?

  18. Keppler says

    @STUFROMOZ – I may vote for Mr. Obama again this year because he may be the only alternative to the outright bigotry of the GOP, but if I do, it will be while holding my nose. As BRAD points out, Obama expended none of his considerable 2008 political capital on gay civil rights, and the outreach to the LGBT community at this juncture will serve only to rub our noses in that fact.

  19. Adam says

    I can’t believe all the cynicism I’m seeing in the comments. Ridiculous. I love that Obama ended DADT. I love that this administration acknowledges that we exist period! This is a positive thing. You haters must be republicunts.

  20. Justin says

    Its very simple. If you are gay and you vote republican, you are telling the world that you agree with the GOP that you are the immoral piece of second class trash they think you are.

  21. Carl says

    “BRAD” (above) and some of the other Obama-hating nay-sayers posting here are about as misinformed as any FOX-News-watching Neanderthal. The ignorance of these folks is positively infuriating.

    Anyone who really is paying attention–who works in Wasington or personally knows Obama or many of his staff–knows Obama is truly and honestly on our side. The pace of progress might be too slow, but this administration is, without question, the most pro-LGBT president in our nation’s history. There are DOZENS of concrete examples. Listening to some of the Obama Administration’s people–including some openly LGBT appointees–this weekend at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s “Creating Change” conference in Baltimore has convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that Obama is the real deal.

    To “BRAD” and others I say: “WAKE UP” and learn thd truth. Stop attacking our allies. You are only helping the enemies of fairness. Stop carping from the sidelines and DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE.

  22. Jack says

    The Obama administration is a great friend of LGBT folks. It is important that we all get out and vote for the reelection of Mr Obama. I have no doubt that the second term will be even better. Toward the second half of Obama’s second term we can begin to look toward Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley and other progressives to keep our nation moving forward on the path toward true equality for all Americans.

  23. FunMe says

    Brad (Jan 28, 2012 7:26:07 PM): very well said!

    In this day and age, I’m still surprised people think we should applaud someone just because they have a “D” when they have done very little lifting for our GLBT equality rights. Sure things have slowly passed, but it’s because of our pressure and our continued putting the administration’s feet to the fire.

    That’s the way the civil rights movement headed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it. That is the way we will do it, too.

  24. Carl says

    @ FUNME, BRAD and others:

    You really don’t get it. You accuse Obama of not doing the “heavy lifting” for us. Some of you whack jobs actually say he (and by extension, his people) are homophobes.

    Take a basic civics lesson, please. The Executive Office is does not have magic powers. Obama is not king, and he can’t change law by decree. Nor does he have a magic wand.

    What you apparently don’t realize is that we ARE the Obama administration. There are dozens of LGBT people working INSIDE this administration. Obama has had more LGBT appointees than any president in history. I have met some of them. I know some of them personally. And straight folks are working inside this administration truly *get* our issues. You can talk to them at length, and know they are not just paying lip service. Their understanding is real, complete, and sincere.

    I’m beginning to believe that some of you bitter nay-sayers are either a.) self-hating Republican trolls, or b.) so addicted to failure that you wouldn’t know success if it bit you in the ass.

    Obama explicitly supports the LGBT community on almost every single issue we care about, except for marriage, a topic on which he has said he is “evolving.” And personally, if his slowness to evolve on marriage means he stands a chance at another term in office, I’m happy to wait.

    Here is a long list of pro-LGBT accomplishments by the Obama administration:

    With or without you, those of us who are willing to work our allies will succeed. It won’t happen all at once, and it won’t happen overnight. It will happen, little by little, piece by piece, the way it has since the beginning of time.

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