Barack Obama | Discrimination | News | Paul Yandura | Tico Almeida

LGBT Activists Blast 'Shallow, Unpersuasive' White House Punt on Non-Discrimination Order

SiriusXM Out Q radio host Michelangelo Signorile reports in the HuffPost on two interviews he did last week regarding the White House's odd announcement that Obama wouldn't be signing an executive order barring LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

AlmeidaThe first was with Freedom to Work's Tico Almeida, who was in the meeting at the White House:

“It was weak, it was shallow, it was unpersuasive,” said Almeida of White House arguments made against signing the order, appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ. “It floated back and forth between different reasons. It wasn’t even consistent. There were a few younger, junior staffers who made some arguments that were just laughable. Really embarrassing.”

Almeida believes the rejection of the order is political. He theorized it was caused by “panic” at the White House in an election year, as the issue had suddenly risen above the radar in the media, after two gay men, members of the direct action group Get Equal, planned to confront Obama about it at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

Our legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman spoke with Almeida twice over the past year about the need for such an order, and about the likelihood that it was going to happen. Read their first interview here, the second here.

YanduraSignorile then spoke to Democratic strategist and gay former Clinton aide Paul Yandura:

In a separate radio interview, Yandura, who helped create Get Equal and has been critical of the White House for what he sees as foot-dragging, agreed: “The [activists at the] Easter Egg Roll was [a] brilliant move. That got the issue into the mainstream press. It got the White House smoked out on this.”

He criticized some gay groups for giving the president a pass on the issue, in the past and now.

“HRC sat on the polling they did [on this issue] from six months ago,” Yandura charged. “It was clear that the groups -- and if you want to say it in positive way -- the groups were trying to give the White House space to do the right thing. I would say they weren’t advocating on our behalf. I was told that everyone had agreed they were going to play an insider game. Well, I think we now as a community can see when you play an insider game, this is what you get.”

Yandura was especially critical of the LGBT advocacy group leaders and their unwillingness to push the President:

“The first email I see come out of NGLTF, after this big meeting that Rea Carey’s in, is a fundraising email,” Yandura continued. “They’ve sent nothing out to their list on this. So, if they’re supposed to be leading on ENDA -- they’re failing. I think we can watch by, 'What are our groups doing now?' Why wouldn’t Rea Carey and Joe Solmonese grow a pair and come out and say ‘I’m not going to stop until you sign this?’”

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  1. LGBT Activists want flimisy insubstantial solution and willing to lose election to get it after which Republican president will strike it down.

    Not a Monarchy people. Seriously, that kind of un tactical thinking is just asinine.

    Where was all of this bile during the bloody Prop 8 election. It was all sunshine and lolipops and we're just like you, they won't disenfranchise us.

    Time to start thinking like Republicans and pick battles and battlefields more carefully.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Apr 16, 2012 9:22:03 AM

  2. Ya know, Obama has been the best president in history for gays. Maybe this is too accommodationist, but I think that given that he is facing a tough re-election campaign, we can give him a pass on this until post-election. Personally, I think that's a reasonable thing to do.

    Posted by: Matt | Apr 16, 2012 9:23:18 AM

  3. ...and then we can give the president a pass prior to the next midterms...etc., etc.

    Been there and done that.

    The activists are SUPPOSED to be pushing political leadership. They are advocates for the LGBT community and NOT the President.

    Not that there is anything WRONG with advocating for the President; I agree that he is a far better choice for the upcoming election than the opposition but the President himself said to push him...

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 16, 2012 10:13:06 AM

  4. This why extreme activists are not campaign strategists.

    Posted by: Javier | Apr 16, 2012 10:16:33 AM

  5. ChitownKev is absolutely right. It is the job of activists (and the activists in question are hardly extreme, quite the contrary) to push politicians. Obama said, from the start, push me--they're pushing. Seems like the activists are doing their job and that the arguments of the President's staff failed to convince them--it's not the job of activists to take a politician's staff at their word, either. The political wisdom of pushing the President too hard going into an election is a different matter, but this particular brouhaha is small potatoes, unlikely to change anything on the political playing field.

    I think there are legitimate reasons why President Obama would not want to be issuing executive orders at this moment, or at any moment since it's typically not his style. But it's up to him--or his staff--to make that case to those who are criticizing him for it. They're adults; they should be able to handle a few activists.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 16, 2012 10:27:41 AM

  6. I saw Tico Almeida's interview with Mark Spitzer from Current TV and he addresses from every possible angle, not only why this issue wouldn't hurt in general presidential elections, but in what ways it could be used to hurt Romney. He also explains why the President issuing an Executive Order isn't a dictorial or activist move -but in contrast follows precedent by other presidents for civil rights protections when they see loop holes. After seeing that and doing some of my own homework to confirm what he said, I am firmly in the camp of push Obama on this hard and oftern. I really doubt he'll do anything after election day unless he's pushed. He's not even offering a coded suggestion he would, let alone a promise and on principal, this is just the straw that's gonna keep me home on election day.

    Posted by: Anthony | Apr 16, 2012 12:20:22 PM

  7. @ ERNIE: Yes, Mr. Obama must be relectec, but thanks for getting Chitown Kev's point about the responsibility of OUR advocates [and to him for making it], but while I don't know how other presidents compare, he has, in fact, issued several EOs as you can see at the following link [a good 100 by my rough count].

    What I haven't stumbled across yet is whether this would HAVE to actually be in the form of an Executive Order for some kind of legal reason. Mr. Obama, like every President, has also made numerous things happen simply by Presidential memorandum. The 2009 extension of minor benefits to partners of federal civilian employees was done that way, as was extending job protections to transgender federal civilian employees and applicants.

    The interesting thing about the latter is that when President Clinton did the same thing for gay federal civilian employees and applicants, he did it by Executive Order.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Apr 16, 2012 1:45:01 PM

  8. Speaking of campaigns: Aunt-Thank-You-Ma'am is well on her way to becoming the official mascot of the so-called Gay community, who seem more willing than ever to value Democrat Party politics over their own welfare. When blind partisanship could trump a stop/loss order on DADT discharges, and now trumps an EO that would make it easier for LGBT folk to earn a living, you know the House Negroes have taken over! Hope y'all dig the flavor of Barack Obama's dirty bathwater!

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Apr 16, 2012 5:32:13 PM

  9. It's hard to believe that with all at stake in this election, so many gay activists want the President to do something that would only cause more people to start thinking about gay issues a few months before they have to vote. With support for marriage equality growing in public opinion polls, and with two states this year making marriage legal for gays, isn't now the time for cooperation? It isn't Obama's fault that a lot of the public doesn't yet accept gay marriage. He can always "evolve" all at once. What he can't do is force voters to "evolve" WITH him. As someone once wrote in a political science journal "Raising the right questions doesn't help much if in the same stroke you're helping elect the wrong people to answer them."

    Posted by: Mary | Apr 16, 2012 7:34:31 PM

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