Openly gay Representatives Tammy
Baldwin and Barney Frank will address a gay group tonight. It is
their first appearance before a gay audience since chiding President
Obama over his defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Baldwin and Frank will appear at a
Justice Coalition (NBJC) fundraiser in Washington D.C. where they
will be honored for their continued support of the gay and lesbian
On Tuesday, the pair joined the growing
chorus of anger against the Obama administration's outdated defense
of DOMA, the law that allows states to ignore legal gay marriages
performed elsewhere and defines marriage as a heterosexual union for
federal agencies. The administration defended the law in a brief
against a gay couple who have sued the federal government, claiming
the law is unconstitutional. Candidate Obama called the law
“abhorrent,” and promised the gay and lesbian community he would
While the pair have weighed in on the
controversy, their five day absence from the scene left many gay
bloggers questioning their allegiance.
Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin,
issued a reserved statement Tuesday. She said she was “disappointed”
by Obama's DOMA defense but gave the president the benefit of the
“I still take President Obama at his
word that he is committed to the repeal of DOMA,” she said.
Frank was more stern, telling the
Boston Herald that the brief was a “big mistake.”
“The wording they used was
inappropriate,” the sixty-nine-year-old Massachusetts lawmaker
said. “I've been in touch with the White House and I'm hoping the
president will make clear these were not his views.”
Tonight's event raises funds for the
NBJC, a group that lobbies congress on behalf of African-American
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
“[Tonight's event] is a little bit of
a celebration of some of the work we've done here in the city [of
Washington],” Jason Bartlett, the group's deputy director, told On
A separate gay and lesbian DNC
fundraiser taking place next Thursday and co-chaired by the pair
along with openly gay Colorado Representative Jared Polis is under
fire by gay bloggers who say it should be boycotted after the DOMA
A leaked email of GLBT dignitaries
confirmed for the DNC event includes the name of Alexander Robinson,
the NBJC's former executive director who stepped down on June 1.
Barlett, who is also a Connecticut state representative, confirmed no
NBJC board member would attend the controversial event, but added
that was not a formal endorsement of a DNC boycott.
“I don't know of any board members
that are intending on going,” Barlett said.
The Obama administration is hoping an
extension of federal benefits to unmarried partners that includes gay
and lesbian couples will soothe the frayed nerves of the gay
community and move the conversation away from the DOMA brief. The
president will sign the executive order today and deliver remarks in
an Oval Office ceremony at 5:45PM.
The development is certain to be on the
minds of attendees at the NBJC event.
On the Net: National Black Justice
Coalition is at NBJCoalition.org.