All About Eve
In “All About Eve”, Bette Davis as Margo Channing says “I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."
On Tuesday, June 29, 2009, at a White House reception that supposedly commemorated the Stonewall riots, some of our most prominent LGBT leaders and activists were had for the price of a cocktail.
I am personally acquainted with some of the queer folks who attended the reception, and also with some of the queer folks who declined the invitation because of President Obama’s refusal to act on behalf of the LGBT community he claims to respect.
While I admire both those who attended and those who did not, I believe that those who attended the White House reception ought to be ashamed of themselves. They succumbed to the allure of political starshine, pure and simple, despite their hand-wringing explanations for accepting the invitation.
Please consider this option: if all the invitees had decided to respond affirmatively to the invitation but had privately conspired to avoid the event, leaving the President and First Lady standing with the bartenders watching ice melt in buckets bearing the presidential seal, the media would have made some priceless hay for us. The absent guests could have designated exactly one of their numbers to enter the reception and read a message addressed to the President. It could have gone something like this:
“Dear President Obama,
With thanks for your invitation to a White House reception and grateful for the honor of being in the same room with the President of the United States whose office we revere, we are avoiding this occasion because we feel that it may be largely an effort on your part to mollify our LGBT community that is dissatisfied and disappointed with your lack of work on our behalf since you have taken office.
We are angered by your effort to honor the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots while clearly not honoring our immediate rights to equality in several areas that are very much within your grasp. You could have, by executive order, disarmed the continued DADT military activity, while working on the legislative changes needed to permanently end it. You could have done so much more to repeal DOMA and push ENDA. You could have intercepted or at least strongly decried that offensive DOJ memo. Instead, you try to keep us contributing to your party and supporting your presidency by inviting us to your home to hunt for Easter eggs and to drink alcohol. You seriously misjudge us, Mr. President, and you obviously do not understand the fact that we are now filled with the same frustration that caused the Stonewall rioters to fight injustice. If you carefully look at the history of the LGBT community since Stonewall, you will understand our absence. The time for words has ended. If you do not act on our behalf immediately, we will be forced to conclude that you are not our ally in the ongoing battle for LGBT equality.”
At the reception, President Obama said, “And I know that many in this room do not believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It is not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago. But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I have made, but by the promises that my administration keeps.”
I am offended by that statement. Our president has no right to include himself in the “we” that has made progress toward full LGBT equality. And, the “we” that will make more progress has yet to include him.
I wonder if the drinks he served his queer guests were watered down to match those partial health benefits he extended to some federal employees.
Those are my feelings. How about yours? Drop me a line and let me know.
Hope you are having a safe and great start to your weekend. Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
big bear hug,