White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday he doesn’t expect President Obama to issue a list of promises to the LGBT community as part of his re-election campaign as he did during the 2008 election season.
During a news conference, Carney made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether Obama would publish a list of objectives he wanted to achieve for the LGBT community during the second term of his administration.
“Well, I don’t anticipate reissuing a list,” Carney said. “I think his position on a number of issues has been clear and his accomplishments on a number of issues have been clear. So as is true with a number of the goals he set forward during his campaign and in the first two-plus years of his administration, he remains [committed to] those that are unfinished.”
Carney noted the president has been “saying a lot lately we still have a lot of work to do, and we’re not done yet” and maintained Obama “will remain committed to a number of policy objectives that haven’t been achieved yet.”
In 2008, Obama published an open letter to the LGBT community for the month of Pride listing the objectives he would advocate for on behalf of the LGBT community upon election.
Some promises in the letter have come to fruition. For example, then-Democratic presidential nominee Obama said he would “place the weight” of his administration behind passage of hate crimes protections legislation. Congress enacted such a statute in 2009 as part of the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill. Additionally, Obama has signed legislation allowing for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, although certification implementing open service has yet to take place.
But other promises in the 2008 letter remain unfulfilled. Obama pledged to work to pass an Employment Non-Discrimination Act to provide protections in the U.S. workforce on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but Congress has yet to pass such a statute. The president also said he would seek complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, but the anti-gay law remains on the books.
Obama’s position on same-sex marriage has marginally changed since he issued the letter. In the missive, Obama says he believes civil unions “represent the best way to secure that equal treatment” for same-sex couples, stopping short of an endorsement for gay nuptials. The president has since suggested his position could evolve on the issue and that he’s wrestling with the idea of same-sex marriage. Advocates have been pressing Obama to issue an outright endorsement of marriage equality.
During the news conference, Carney said Obama remains committed to the outstanding promises to the LGBT that were made during the 2008 election.
“Well, I think you know that we’ve taken a pretty significant action on DOMA,” Carney said. “And on the other issues, I think he remains committed to the agenda on a variety of issues that he laid forward.”
Carney was referring to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement on Feb. 23 that Obama determined that DOMA was unconstitutional and that the Justice Department would no longer defend the anti-gay law in court. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has since directed the House general counsel to take up defense of DOMA following a party-line 3-2 vote in March by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.
The exchange between the Blade and Carney follows:
Washington Blade: Jay, a question on the president’s 2012 reelection campaign. Back in 2008, the President outlined to the LGBT community a litany of objectives he wanted to achieve over the course of his administration. Do you expect that as we get closer to November 2012 that he’s going to reissue some sort of list of what he wants to achieve with the LGBT community in the second term of his administration — perhaps making new promises?
Jay Carney: Well, I don’t anticipate reissuing a list. I think his position on a number of issues has been clear and his accomplishments on a number of issues have been clear. So as is true with a number of the goals he set forward during his campaign and in the first two-plus years of his administration, he remains [committed to] those that are unfinished. As he’s been saying a lot lately we still have a lot of work to do and we’re not done yet. And so I think that he will remain committed to a number of policy objectives that haven’t been achieved yet.
Blade: Just to be clear, just to be clear — two major promises that he made to the LGBT community back in 2008 remain unfulfilled. That’s passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and full legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Do you still see those happening in the course of the Obama administration?
Carney: Well, I think you know that we’ve taken a pretty significant action on DOMA. And on the other issues, I think he remains committed to the agenda on a variety of issues that he laid forward.