order signed by President Obama that extends certain benefits to the
spouses of gay and lesbian federal employees has failed to stem
the rising tide of defections from next Thursday's gay DNC
Gay activists called for a boycott on
the LGBT Leadership Council's fundraiser for the Democratic National
Committee to protest the
Obama administration's defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, or
DOMA, the 1996 law that allows states to ignore legal gay marriages
performed in other states and defines marriage as a heterosexual
union for federal agencies.
The number of gay donors who say they
will skip the fundraiser is rising as the president remains mum about
the brief that has troubled the LGBT community. While candidate
Obama promised he would repeal DOMA, the administration defended the
law in a lawsuit brought by a gay couple who have called it
unconstitutional. The administration's defense has been labeled
“homophobic” for drawing parallels between gay marriage and
incestuous and polygamous relationships, and its reliance on outdated
and inaccurate gay stereotypes.
“The brief was very troubling to a
lot of people and rightfully so,” Richard Socarides, a former
special assistant to President Clinton, told ABC
News. “Supporters of the Democratic Party and others who feel
that gay and lesbian equality is an important issue for this
administration to address are rightly concerned about this brief.
Serious issues still need clarification.”
Activists had hoped for that
clarification yesterday. But surrounded by a mob of media as
he signed the federal benefits memorandum, Obama failed to repudiate
the brief, saying only that he remains committed to repealing DOMA.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also
passed on the opportunity to clarify the administration's position on
“[T]he Justice Department is charged
with upholding the law of the land, even though the president
believes that the law should be repealed,” Gibbs said Wednesday at
a press briefing.
“The president did not last night
address what direction he would give the Justice Department when
these issues come up in the future, he did not address the continued
discharges of gay people from the military,” Socarides, who will
not attend next week's fundraiser, said.
Gay activist David Mixner was the first
high-profile dropout of the event, writing in a blog post last
Friday, “With Democratic friends like these, God help us.”
Also 86'd are blogger Andy Towle, Alan
Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a
group that lobbies for gay marriage in New York, Rea Carey, executive
director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Marty Rouse,
national field director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's
largest gay and lesbian rights advocate.
Wednesday, gay philanthropist Bruce
Bastian told the Washington
Blade that blanket donations to the Democratic Party were not
“justified” at this time, adding he would continue to support
Also pulling out his support is Vermont
Senate Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, who shepherded the first gay
marriage bill through the Vermont Legislature.
“This memo from the Justice
Department is more Bush than Bush,” Shumlin, who is straight, told
“It takes the only minority group left in America that national
politicians can publicly discriminate against and still see their
numbers go up in the polls and it reinforces the horrible stereotypes
about our friends and neighbors.”
The $1,000-a-person minimum fundraiser
will feature Vice President Joe Biden and is co-chaired by Congress'
three openly gay members: Wisconsin Representative Tammy Baldwin,
Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank and Colorado Representative