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Gay Dems excuse Obama’s failings for party invitations




Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart is so easy. If only President Obama had known sooner that a simple dinner invitation for Jonathan meant that he wouldn’t have to deliver changes for gays and lesbians throughout the country. We’re all good now that the president invited Jonathan and his friends over for dinner. After all, the sins of bad public positions can be erased with private niceties, right? If you’re a Democrat they can.

Republicans don’t get that pass. Remember when Jonathan and the other self-appointed gay leaders complimented President Bush for inviting his private gays to his State Dinner? Or remember when Washington’s professional gay leadership celebrated Vice President Dick Cheney for being the first nationally elected sitting leader to support gay marriage? You don’t because Capehart and company only squeal with excitement when Democrats have private pronouncements. Within hours of leaving the White House, Capehart announced in a column, “President Obama is pretty evolved already.”

But has he? Last summer, President Obama reiterated his opposition to gay marriage in New York City one day before New York politicians passed marriage equality for their state. He did it again a few days later at the White House. The president and his political advisers surely must have calculated the consequences for taking such a timely stand. And they must have decided there was more benefit to opposing gay marriage than supporting it. The president’s calculus isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising. After all, he was only following Nancy Pelosi’s lead of the last several years by playing politics with gay issues and gay Americans. Obama, Pelosi and Harry Reid had two years of total control in Washington, D.C., and decided they didn’t need to deliver. They’d rather play politics.

There are Republicans and other Democrats more supportive of gay equality issues than Obama – and some just as tepid – so why are gay leaders putting all their trust into a man that isn’t performing?  The answer is, of course, more politics.

The overwhelming majority of people running gay organizations are Democratic activists that don’t want or believe in bipartisan politics. They just want Democrats to win elections. Capehart and the folks at HRC know that if they can’t deliver the gay votes and money for their Democratic Party candidates then they won’t get bigger jobs, consulting gigs or dinner invites.  They are loyal to their party at the expense of the movement.  It’s politically smart – if you want to further your career within the Democratic Party, that is.

Gay leaders in Washington deserve this duplicitous president. After all, they have protected Obama since 2008 when they ignored his public position against gay marriage but attacked John McCain for having the exact same stance. These and other hypocritical actions by gays and lesbians encouraged Obama to take them for granted. Why would Democratic politicians need to deliver on equal rights if there were no consequences for playing both sides of an issue? Gays were going to support Obama no matter what, so the president, like all politicians, pocketed their support and moved on. There was no threat of losing their support, so why pay attention to their issues?  Especially when there is a plethora of other needy constituencies clamoring for favors.

It’s actually been a smart political strategy to keep the leaders close and feeling important.  They must think they are political masters inside that White House. Not delivering on gay equality risks nothing – Obama can keep the gay base of money and support but reach out to moderate evangelicals and religious activists that still need to be wooed. And the gay liberal media are happy to help keep everyone hyped up and happy – as long as they get their invites.  I can hear Capehart now, “turn up the music and open the bar; they’ll be happy.”

White House reporter Julie Mason of Politico nailed Obama’s political calculation when she said, “[Obama] doesn’t want to alienate some moderates who are not really comfortable with the president taking that strong a stand on gay marriage. So it’s a bit of a political calculation. Also, I’m just not sure he personally believes it.” Maureen Dowd of the New York Times speculates, “Obama fears the disapproval of the homophobic elements within his own party.”

And Jacob Bernstein, from Newsweek admitted, “I mean, there is on one hand this argument, well, the gays have nowhere to go, and that’s probably true.”

If gays are going to win support for their political issues, they better start playing smarter politics. It would be news to most gays that John Bolton, Laura Bush, Cindy McCain and Dick Cheney all disagree with President Obama and support marriage equality. New York State passed gay marriage after Republicans and Democrats worked together to push an issue, not a candidate or a political party. Gay Democratic leaders like Andrew Tobias can argue for more and new taxes, more protections for big labor unions and universal healthcare but they shouldn’t be allowed to turn the gay movement into a wing of the Democratic Party.

However likely or unlikely you think it is for Obama to evolve, giving Obama unequivocal support so early is politically stupid. As my grandpa used to say, “Why buy the cow if you are getting the milk for free?” But a wavering Obama hasn’t stopped gay leaders, gay media and the mainstream media from protecting him and growing their careers. Could the first African-American president not be for total equality for everyone?  Shut up and RSVP, yes. I’m bringing my boyfriend to the White House.

(Richard Grenell served eight years as a political appointee of President George W. Bush. He and his partner were guests of the president and first lady at numerous White House events, including the September 2008 White House State Dinner for President John Kufour of the Republic of Ghana. Reach him via

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  1. MDL

    March 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t understand why the gays give Obama a pass on gay rights…. HE’S DONE NOTHING!

  2. Peter Rosenstein

    March 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    This is an interesting column. I actually also questioned Jonathan Capehart’s column and have written my own in this issue of the Blade calling for the Democratic Party to get on the right side of history and to put a plank in their platform supporting marriage-equality.

    But then I am also going to vote for Obama whether he does it or not and the reason for that is not only has he moved the LGBT community forward more than any other President in history, but all his potential opposition is so totally untenable. Using luminaries like Laura Bush to show how far Repbulicans have come is a false comparison. She didn’t come out for marriage-equality while her husband was running for President and Dick Cheney was far from a supporter for years even with an openly Lesbian daughter. The Republican Speaker of the House is funding the fight in support of DOMA because the President won’t and the only remaining Republican Candidates are fighting over who can be more homophobic and be stronger about rolling back the repeal of DADT and enshrining DOMA as law.

    So while Jonathan Capehart may have been slightly influenced to say those nice things in his column after an exciting night at the White no Republican should have the nerve to try and compare their Party’s efforts on behalf of the LGBT community with what this President has managed to do. Yes I want the President to fully “evolve” but I would also like the Republican candidates to move out of the 18th century.

  3. JCF

    March 17, 2012 at 4:47 am

    “Obama, Pelosi and Harry Reid had two years of total control in Washington, D.C., and decided they didn’t need to deliver.”

    And that’s why DADT is still the law of the land. Oh, wait…

    Mr Grenell, Ken Mehlman at least had a bare semblence of decency to APOLOGIZE for being a tool of militantly anti-LGBT George W. Bush. Awaiting your apology. Until then, rather the sound-of-crickets, than spurious comparisons of Laura Bush (!) to President Obama. [“Last summer, President Obama reiterated his opposition to gay marriage in New York City one day before New York politicians passed marriage equality for their state”: utter BS!!!!]


    March 17, 2012 at 11:36 pm


  5. Zinsation

    March 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Its simple, really. We have a president who, time and time again, has said he doesn’t believe inequality should be enshrined in our Constitution. We have major Republican presidential candidates who openly advocate for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. We have a president to refuses to defend DOMA, believing it unconstitutional. We have Republican leaders in the House wasting resources to defend it. We have a president who openly admits his views are “evolving”. We have a Republican party that panders to a small, vocal minority, resulting in a general policy that looks like “less government in business, more government in the bedroom”. Sorry, but I’ll take my chances with the “evolving” president rather than the bunch of right-wing moralists that seem to have taken control of the Republican party.


      March 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      WE ARE DEALING WITH AN ISSUE WHICH “GOES STRAIGHT TO THE HEART” OF MANY AMERICANS – OF ALL POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES. THIS ISSUE IS RELIGION. WE ARE LIVING IN A TIME IN WHICH MANY YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT GO TO CHURCH. [Think about it, the National Football League makes a whole lot of money at the exact time church services are in progress. Think about all of the forms of secular entertainment to be enjoyed on Sundays – casinos, etc.]. THEREFORE, THE CHURCH IS IN CRISIS AND FIGHTING FOR ITS OWN EXISTENCE. SURE, PEOPLE OF FAITH ARE GOING TO POUNCE [AND, HARD] ON THE ISSUE OF HOMOSEXUALITY.

  6. a.mcewen

    March 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Blah, blah, blah. When you make as much effort in standing against and castigating the extreme homophobic element in the Republican Party, then come talk to us.

  7. Gary Cox

    March 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I am very proud of the Blade for publishing this article. We need a vigorous debate about the President and his policies. It doesn’t help any gay person to be attached to a President that cant deliver on the economy. The President have delivered poverty and government dependence, and that is not good for any gay person. Gay persons want jobs to feed their families and have a future, not platitudes from an “evolving” President.

    • Bayhuntr

      April 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Mr Cox, exactly what should he had done in your wise opinion, that wouldn’t had been blocked by the Republicans? More tax cuts for the rich? More deregulation of Wall Street? Please enlighten us with your awe-inspiring specifics? Those 8 million jobs (and tax revenue) that were lost just before Obama took over and the off budget wars and the Unfunded drug give-a-way, and the unfunded tax cuts, Mr Cox, dazzle us with your big over sized brain!

      • George Z.

        April 21, 2012 at 3:23 am

        Not torture Bradley Manning?

  8. Heather K

    March 19, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I’m lesbian and I would never vote for this criminal again. He’s worse than bush! obama doesn’t believe that any American citizen should have rights or freedom. Let’s see, the NDAA, SOPA,ACTA, the renewal of the patriot act (the appeal of the 4th amendment) not to mention all the vacations he has taken while the rest of us lose our jobs and homes… What else needs to be said? He is the worse president EVER!!!! This time around everyone needs not to vote strictly for a party, but we need to do our own research and vote for principle! I’ve done mine and theres only one candidate that has a proven 30 year record in fighting for all of us, straight, gay, black, white, etc, and thats Ron Paul! Besides he is the only one that will bring out troops home, END THE WAR”S”!!!!


      March 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      “Heather K,”

    • Bayhuntr

      April 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

      You’ve done your research? Let’s start with the easy evidence that that isn’t the case, how many vacation days did Bush take compared to Obama?
      I think there are right wing operatives, who scan the internet looking for venues to trash Obama. You can usually spot them by how over the top their rederic is. “Obama is the worst president ever and Ron Paul is just dreamy”

  9. jcdchawk

    March 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    How dare the President not do 100% of everything we want and not do it immediately. After all from all the complaints about him not doing so I have to assume that he has done 100% of what every other groups has wanted of him. Political reality be damned!

    We should continue to push hard to get the President and other Democratic leaders to bring our goal of full equality to a successful conclusion. Still, it is foolish to ignore the political reality that not every part of this goal can be accomplished immediately. We need less complaining and more celebration of how much has been accomplished while we continue to push forward for full equality.

  10. Surely U Jest

    March 19, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Ron Paul does not have a 30 year record fighting on behalf of Gay Americans. He has a 30 year record of fighting federalism which at times happens to support advancements in gay equality. It is by happenstance, not by design.

    For example, Dr. Paul states: “The choices are not limited to either banning gay marriage at the federal level, or giving up and accepting it as inevitable. A far better approach, rarely discussed, is for Congress to exercise its existing constitutional power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts. Congress could statutorily remove whole issues like gay marriage from the federal judiciary, striking a blow against judicial tyranny and restoring some degree of states’ rights.”

    So, it’s true that he believes the federal government should not regulate marriage, but at the same time he advocates for something far more detrimental to achieving marriage equality. He promotes the notion that state legislatures or electorates should have a SACROSANCT right to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples and be able to act with impunity.

    No thanks, Heather.

  11. Rickindc

    March 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Obama is not our friend, so stop being a tool for him!


      March 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm


  12. BobN

    April 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

    There was a time when, to get published in the gay press, you had to have cred. You had to have DONE SOMETHING for gay rights. You had to be involved. You had move the ball forward. Today, thanks to the corporate ownership of the gay press and its purposeful move to the right, all you need is an (R) behind your name. Then, load dumped, you go back to making money and donating to the very folks who would make you go back into the closet.

  13. Frank

    April 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Obama has done a great deal to support the gay community, including fighting to end DADT and not defending DOMA. He may not be as strong on our issues as I wish, but to compare his sometimes tepid support with the outright disdain by the Republicans is outrageous. Romney has signed a pledge to discriminate against us! He has appointed Robert Bork (the most socially conservative element in the judicial system) to be his judicial counsel. The Republicans vote as a block against gays every opportunity they get. The Democrats are not perfect, but gays voting for Republicans is like Jews voting for Nazis.

  14. Dan

    April 21, 2012 at 3:23 am

    That article is by Romney’s foreign policy spokesman, a gay Republican who was a member of the Bush administration (even though they made it clear to him when he was at the UN that his partner would not be acknowledged), and who has consulted to anti-gay organizations. No one knows better about being “loyal to their party at the expense of the movement” better than that weasel.

  15. JeremiahA

    April 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    “Marriage equality” is a nonsensical statement. The rights and restrictions of state-sanctioned matrimony are already shared by all citizens equally. What is being proposed with same-sex marriage is a new artificial institution that has no essential public policy purpose. According to the Judge Walker and Reinhardt’s definition of marriage, my mother and my grandmother are married…or should be.

    And so now, in this article, it has once again been made clear that Mr. Romney and his staff have made false statements when expressing their support for marriage. We cannot trust Mr. Obama. We cannot trust Mr. Romney.

    It is time to pack our bags and move…

  16. Dan

    May 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I just have to say, reading this petulant and petty little piece of tripe on the day Grenell quit the Romney campaign after being hounded out by right-wing homophobes and hung out to dry by his best buddy Mitt makes it really, really funny.

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Opinion | LGBTQ Virginians advocate D.C. statehood

The right of all Americans to be part of our democratic society



My hometown will always be Washington, D.C. It’s the place where I was born and spent all of the first seven days of my life. As a lifelong Virginian however, where I live and attended schools, I straddle two communities important to me. 

As a business owner of 30 years in Washington, D.C., I pay many of my taxes and payroll taxes to the Nation’s Capital while I also pay income tax to Virginia where I’m a citizen.

Most important of all, as a gay Virginia voter, I can think of few lifelong political goals more important to me than achieving statehood for Washington, D.C. One of the compelling reasons I still make my home in Virginia and cross the Potomac River every day of my life, is because of my right as a Virginian to vote for two U.S. senators and for a member of the House of Representatives with the power to vote in Congress.

(It is still shocking to know that, with Washington, D.C. statehood still beyond grasp, the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton who represents D.C. in the U.S. House of Representatives, has never yet had the authority to vote on the floor of the House.)

At an early age, I was dumbfounded to know that D.C. then did not even have a local government. We lacked an elected mayor and city council, with almost all decisions for the District of Columbia made by the federal government. Yet today, even with a mayor and local government in place, it is breathtaking to know that my friends, neighbors and co-workers still have zero voice in the Capitol and no one to vote for them – and for us – in Congress.

Consider that one of the world’s most diverse and educated cities has so often been bullied by extreme conservative leaders on Capitol Hill who – whenever possible – turn back the clock for D.C. citizens on voting rights, abortion rights, gun measures and our civil rights including LGBTQ equality. Not a single voter in D.C. has much, if any, say over any of those decisions.

The absence of statehood and the lack of real voting rights means that the unforgivable strains of racism and homophobia often held sway not just for Washington D.C., but in denying the United States a true progressive majority on Capitol Hill too. 

Virginians get it. In the past decade, we’ve worked very hard in every county and city in the commonwealth to turn our regressive political past into a bright blue political majority. We have elected LGBTQ candidates to state and local offices in unprecedented numbers. Our vote is our power.

More significantly, through the work of Equality Virginia and its many allies, we are repealing scores of anti-LGBTQ measures and reforming our statutes and constitution to secure equal rights as LGBTQ voters, adoptive parents, married couples, students, and citizens. Doesn’t Washington, D.C. deserve that future?

Virginia needs more states – like D.C. – to join forces and represent all Americans. To achieve this, and to defeat or neuter the anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule, we need our friends, allies and neighbors, the citizens of Washington, D.C. to share in our democratic ambitions.

Long ago, Washington, D.C. resident, abolitionist and civil rights leader, Frederick Douglass declared that “the District is the one spot where there is no government for the people, of the people, and by the people. Washington, D.C. residents pay taxes, just like residents of Nevada, California or any other state. Washington, D.C. residents have fought and died in every American war just like residents of Ohio, Kentucky or any other state. The District deserves statehood and Congress should act to grant it.” 

Speaking for LGBTQ Virginians, we agree. Conferring statehood is not a gift nor a blessing from the rest of us, but instead, it is the absolute right of all Americans to be part of our democratic society. As LGBTQ Americans, if we are to pass the Equality Act and other fundamental civil rights measures, we need the State of Washington, D.C. and its voters by our side.

Bob Witeck is a longtime LGBTQ civil rights advocate, entrepreneur, and Virginian, with long roots and longstanding ties to D.C.

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Opinion | Representation matters: The gayest Olympics yet

From one out athlete to more than 160 in just 33 years



OK, I really want a Tom Daley cardigan. The now gold-medal Olympian told Britain’s The Guardian that he took up crocheting during the pandemic. He even has an Instagram page dedicated to his knit creations, MadeWithLoveByTomDaley. It’s all very adorable; it’s all very Tom Daley. 

All that aside, you’d have to be practically heartless to not feel something when Tom Daley and his diving partner Matty Lee won the gold on Monday in the men’s synchronized 10-meter diving competition, placing just 1.23 points ahead of the Chinese. And then seeing him with tears in his eyes on the podium as “God Save the Queen” played. Later that week, he knitted a little bag featuring the Union Jack to hold and protect his medal. So very wholesome

Daley is certainly one of the highest profile LGBTQ athletes in these games. Besides the diver, the 2020 Summer Olympics, now in 2021 because of the pandemic, are hosting more than 160 out athletes. A record to be sure, but calling it a record does it somewhat of an injustice. The United States sent the first out athlete to the 1988 Summer Olympics, Robert Dover an equestrian rider competing in dressage. Dover remained the only out (sharing the title once in 1996 with Australian diver Craig Rogerson) for 10 years. Then, during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the number of out athletes jumped to 15. London’s 2012 Olympics saw the number increase to 23. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro saw the number jump to 68 out athletes. And now we’re at over 160. 

So you get the trend building here. From one out athlete to more than 160. So very far, so very fast. And competing in everything from handball to sailing to golf to skateboarding. Also, noteworthy, New Zealand sent the first trans athlete, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard. These are but numbers and names, but to be sure, this sort of representation, this sort of visibility, is hugely important. Not just for athletes coming up behind them, but let’s think too of those out there, not yet even out, maybe watching in their parents’ living room. Seeing Tom Daley thank his husband, mention their son, this sort of queer normality being broadcast as if it is both groundbreaking and at the same time nothing at all — the importance of this cannot be overstated. 

On top of that, growing up gay, how many times were we all told, whether outright or simply implied, that sports were more or less off limits to us. Meant to display the peaks of gender and ability, sports were not meant for those who couldn’t fit neatly into that narrative. But it appears that that narrative is slowly becoming undone. Just look beyond the Olympics, to the wider world of sports. Earlier this summer, pro-football’s Carl Nassib came out.   

And maybe I’m just of a generation that marvels at the destruction of each and every boundary as they come down. We had so very little as far as representation back then. Now to see it all, and in so many different sports, you can’t help but to wonder what the future will hold for us; and it really delights the imagination, doesn’t it? 

It is the gayest Olympics yet. And if the trend laid out above continues, it will only get gayer as the years go on. And if it’s a barometer for anything, I think we will see a lot of things getting a bit gayer from now on.

Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

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Opinion | Blame Mayor Bowser for violence epidemic?

In a word, ‘no,’ as the problem is nationwide



The simple answer to the question “Does the Mayor get the blame for the violence epidemic?” is NO! This is not something that can be laid at any one person’s feet. The epidemic of gun violence is gripping the entire nation. 

The frustration and outrage I and everyone else feels are palpable. It’s frightening when you hear gunshots in your neighborhood. It makes bigger headlines when the shots fired are in neighborhoods not used to that like the recent shooting on 14th and Riggs, N.W. When the shots rang out patrons of upscale restaurants like Le Diplomate ran or ducked under their tables for cover. When shots were fired outside Nationals stadium the national media lit up to report it. The truth is we must have the same outrage every time shots are fired and people hurt or killed in any neighborhood of our city.  

Trying to lay the blame for this at the feet of the mayor, as some people on social media and in opinion and news columns in the Washington Post are doing is wrong. Some would have you believe the mayor is just sitting by and allowing the violence to happen. There are pleas “Mayor Bowser do something!” as if she could wave a magic wand and the shootings will stop. 

In a recent Washington Post column, “Bowser pressed to act after shootings,” a number of Council members are quoted including Chairman Phil Mendelson, Ward 2 member Brooke Pinto, Ward 4 member Janeese Lewis George, At-large member Anita Bonds and Ward 5 member Kenyan McDuffie. They all call for something to be done but not one of them says what they would do. It’s clear they are as frustrated and outraged as the rest of us but have no easy answers. What is clear is casting blame on the mayor and police commissioner won’t help to stop the violence and shootings. 

Again, this epidemic of violence isn’t just an issue for D.C. but a national epidemic. Recently our mayor sat beside the president at a White House meeting called to discuss what can be done about this with mayors and law enforcement officials from around the nation. No one from the president down had an answer that can make it stop right away. Many in D.C. would be surprised at the ranking of the 50 cities with the most violent crime per 100,000 residents showing D.C. with 977 violent crimes per 100,000 residents at number 27 behind cities like Rockford, Ill., Anchorage, Ala., and Milwaukee, Wisc. Crime in nearly all those cities and murder rates have gone up, in many cases dramatically, since the pandemic. 

The solution to ending gun violence is to get the guns out of the hands of those who are using them for crime but that is easy to say and much harder to do. We know ending poverty will make a difference. Giving every child a chance at a better education and ensuring real opportunities for every young person will make a difference. We must also hold people responsible for the serious crimes they commit and often courts are a system of revolving door justice where we find the same people arrested for a serious crime back on the street committing another one and the same gun used for multiple crimes.

There are anti-crime programs that might work but they need buy-in from the entire community including activists and the clergy who must work in concert with our political leadership. D.C. is funding a host of programs including ‘violence disrupters,’ job training, and  mental health and substance abuse programs. They all need more money and more support. 

In D.C., we have only 16 elected officials with real power; the Council, the mayor, the attorney general and our congressional representative. We have community leaders elected to local ANCs. When members of the council attack the mayor, some simply to make political hay for their own future election, it won’t solve any problems. 

This must be viewed as a crisis and our 16 elected leaders should sit down, agree to a series of anti-crime programs and efforts they will adequately fund, and stop attacking each other. Once they agree on the programs to fund they should bring together ANC members from across the city to a meeting at the convention center and work out a plan for what each can do to move us forward to safer neighborhoods. 

We must work together as one if we are to succeed in making life safer and better for all. 

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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