Others found different reasons to call the speech “a fail.” Left-wing gay bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Dan Savage said it sounded more like a campaign speech than a presidential address, with the latter offering, “Sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service.” They were not alone. The New York Times reported that one reader of the Bilerico Project quipped in a comment to that gay blog, “I could have watched one of his old campaign speeches and heard the same thing.”
John Aravosis of Americablog was less restrained in his reaction to the speech:
What did President Obama say new tonight? Absolutely nothing. … It is criminal that any gay rights organization would invite an embattled president to their dinner, giving him political cover for repeated broken promises and slaps in the face to our community (like the DOMA incest brief), and then get absolutely nothing in return. HRC’s actions only feed the suspicions of critics who say that the organization is more interested in fundraisers than in advancing our rights.
All in all, the evening was a disappointment, but not unexpected. President Obama doesn’t do controversy, and we, my friends, are controversy. So, the bad blood between this administration and the gay community will remain, and continue to worsen.
By this measure, the incumbent Democrat is a lot like the last Democrat to sit in the White House: both seek to avoid controversy, particularly on gay issues. And yet, in seeking to avoid controversy in the general population, Obama has further stirred the pot in the gay community. Even some of his most zealous defenders on the gay left have refused to cut him any slack for his failure to move forward on repealing DADT and DOMA.
And these outraged voices on the gay left have a greater opportunity today to make public their views than did their counterparts in the Clinton era. Many of them blog, some for heavily trafficked sites. These bloggers have prevented the voices of the establishment gay organizations from dominating the discourse (as they had in years past). When HRC’s president Joe Solmonese made excuses for the president’ s inaction, these bloggers were quick to take him to task.
Due in large part to the integrity of these gay left bloggers, a “schism,” as Spaulding puts it, has opened up between “Gay Inc. [and] the grassroots”. The blogosphere, in short, has changed everything. Gay Inc. (to use Spaulding’s epithet for the establishment gay organizations) no longer reigns supreme as the public voice of the gay community.
It has been supplemented by voices less submissive to the dictates of the Democratic Party. Blogs have given disgruntled Democrats a larger megaphone with which to express their disappointment with a party whose leaders have long assumed that gay voters would remain in their camp even if they didn’t act on their campaign promises.
And Americans have become increasingly aware that the gay community does not speak with one voice. Nor does it march it lockstep to the tune of the Democratic Party.