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What gay leaders should have said after last night’s $1.4m Obama fundraiser

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About last night...

Earlier, we posted Chris Geidner's story about how gay leaders, including big gay donors, left last night's huge Obama fundraiser - it was quite elite, only 40 people attended, each paying upwards of $35,000 for the honor - and told the media that they didn't expect the President to do anything more on gay rights this year, and that that was okay.

I think that was a mistake. For two reasons. First, it was a disservice to our community. And second, it was a disserve to the President.

As for the community, yes it's our job to get pro-gay politicians elected and re-elected. But we do it for one reason. To help advance gay rights. That's the goal, the end game. It's our job to be constantly pushing for our civil rights, period. When friendly politicians fulfill enough of those goals, enough of their promises, we laud them and help them get re-elected. But we don't cry uncle, ever. It's never okay for any politician to say he or she has done "enough" on gay rights, so we give them a pass for a year or longer. It's our job to constantly push our friends and allies to do more. And of course to hold our enemies accountable for doing less or worse. There is more President Obama and the Democrats can do this year to help gay rights. Joe talked about some of those things here, including helping us defeat anti-gay ballot initiatives and signing an executive order implementing ENDA vis-a-vis federal contractors.

It is our job to say thank you, and it's never enough.

Second, I think they did a disservice to the President himself. I'm surprised at people I talk to, straight and gay, who think that Mitt Romney wouldn't be such a bad president. I've heard people say that yes, Romney is flip flopping on gay rights and everything else in order to appear more conservative for the primaries. That means, they say, that Romney really isn't that conservative, that Romney really is a liberal, at heart, so he'll probably be a really good president.


We've seen this before, with gay voters (and other moderates) trying to justify a vote for George W. Bush and for John McCain. And frankly, the justification is that much easier with Romney, as he does have a liberal record in everything from gay rights to abortion. It's understandable how some people might be able to justify voting for him, hoping that his inner liberal, and not his Mormon, will come out once he's elected president.

And that's a risk President Obama can't afford.

President Obama needs to keep reminding Democrats and Independents that he's not Mitt Romney. That while Mitt Romney vacillates on gay rights, Barack Obama holds firm (I know, many of us don't feel he's held firm, but that's not the point - or rather it is - what better way to help assuage those concerns than come up with a big win before the election). And the way for the President to show he's holding firm is by having another big gay rights win this year, a win that will force Romney to criticize it, and thus force Romney to show, prove, that he's just not as good as Barack Obama on our issues.

The President should come out for marriage equality, and he should issue an executive order implementing ENDA for federal contractors. Either would smoke Romney out of the woods and force him to go anti-gay yet again, and either would help the President cement his support in the gay community one last time before the election.  (And should Newt be the candidate, imagine the spectacle of Newt Gingrich lecturing Barack Obama about the sanctity of marriage - I'd buy popcorn for that one.)

The President has turned things around significantly with our community as a result of the repeal of DADT. I think he could really seal the deal by going the extra mile this year.  And that's what our leaders should be saying about Barack Obama and 2012.  Not that he's done enough.  And not that he hasn't done enough.  But rather, that gay rights is always a positive for Democrats.  That the more the President does, the more he cements our support and the support of Independent voters who care about fairness and the politicians who support it.

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