Obama Can’t Remember His Promises

Jim Burroway

May 28th, 2009

As I noted earlier, President Barack Obama remained silent on the Supreme Court ruling which validated Proposition 8 at a fundraising event in Los Angeles. But he did manage to make a very oblique reference to the hundreds of LGBT people and allies protesting outside last night:

A gaggle of sign-waving protestors milled around outside The Beverly Hilton, the sprawling hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. They must have caught the president\’s eye when he arrived at the hotel from an earlier stop in Las Vegas because he relayed one of their messages to the crowd.

“One of them said, ‘Obama keep your promise,\’ ” the president said. “I thought that\’s fair. I don\’t know which promise he was talking about.”

The people in the audience – who paid $30,400 per couple to attend – laughed as they ate a dinner of roasted tenderloin, grilled organic chicken and sun choke rosemary mashed potatoes.

There were eight of them, Mr. President.


May 28th, 2009

Just for the sake of asking- if we’re so tired of dealing with DADT and not being able to get any action out of DC, what’s stopping us from forming our own version of Blackwater?

Timothy Kincaid

May 28th, 2009

Am I the only one had a physical reaction to reading that? Did anyone else find that flippancy to be astonishingly offensive?

It is simply impossible for the President’s staff to not to know the nature of the gay “welcome” (protest). To make light of it tells me loud and clear that this President – at least last night – not only has no intention of keeping his promises but that he has contempt for me for even thinking he would.

I’m beginning to think that we are a joke to this President.


May 28th, 2009

If he’s being quoted correctly, it’s very disconcerting. At some point this will have to come to a head and he’ll have to address us. Or maybe not, I mean, most of us will still vote for him anyway.


May 28th, 2009

I have already left a comment on the White House’s site, and unsubscribed from the Obama mailing list. If he is so willing to joke about the greatest threat to civil rights since the end of Jim Crow (the stripping of Constitutional rights of a minority through simply majority vote), then it is clear he is not serious about his alleged support for the LGBT community.

I always said I supported Obama in spite of his positions on LGBT rights, but now I am simply too angry to be sanguine. If he is willing to abandon us – doing NOTHING for the LGBT community except for inviting us to the Easter Egg Roll – then he clearly does not need my help on health care reform, banking reform or any other thing. Hell, the man has not even issued a proclamation for Gay Pride month.


May 28th, 2009

I had a similar reaction, Timothy. And I wish I hadn’t voted for him.


May 28th, 2009

I have been sending an email to the White House each day that I read or hear something in particular related to inaction on the Obama agenda for gay Americans. I encourage everyone else to do the same as well as pester their senators and representatives.

As an Obama voter and campaign contributer, I have been getting more and more angry about this administration’s ignoring of gay and lesbian Americans. However, for the President himself to just blow us off like this really angers me. He has a serious problem with a portion of the electorate that voted in large numbers for him. His election was an anomaly. Most of our elections have been much closer. If he feels comfortable with people like me just not voting (I can’t imagine that I would actually vote for anyone put forward by the current Republican party), he may have more difficulty winning a second term than he thinks.

Helen in Ireland

May 28th, 2009

I just left this comment on the White House web site. I am so sorry for all those who faced the bitter disappointment yesterday and I only wish I could do more to help you all.

Jim and Timothy, I took the list from BTB, I hope that you don’t mind.



President Obama,
Today, just one day after the California Supreme Court upheld a voter’s ballot that stripped a large group of California men and women of the civil and equals rights previously acknowledged by that same court, you attended a fundraising event in Los Angeles. A number of those men and women protested that court decision, holding placards and banners aloft. Within the hotel, whilst addressing the paying guests, you are reported as saying:

“One of them said, ‘Obama keep your promise,’ ” the president said. “I thought that’s fair. I don’t know which promise he was talking about.”

Those promises were to address:-

Hate crimes statute
Employment Non-Discrimination
Civil Unions/Federal rights
Repeal ‘Defense of Marriage Act’
Repeal ‘Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell’
Expand Adoption rights
Promote AIDS prevention
Microbicides development act

These were listed on your Inaugauration day on this website.

You can do it. You *can* act, to prevent Dan Choi and other service members from being thrown out of the career they loved; You *can* speak out in favour of those who lost their right to protect their families within the bounds of civil marriage in California. You *can* speak out against those so-called ‘religious right’ who commit so many lies and calumny to further their own selfish agenda.

You *can* – but you haven’t and you don’t. I am writing from Europe, fom Ireland in fact, as a heterosexual woman who supports the civil rights of gay, bisexual and transgendered men and women in my own company and across the world. I support the Americans who put their faith in you and voted for you, only to be greeted with today’s derision and yesterday’s silence.

They deserve better. America deserves better. And in 2012, you will reap what you have sown in that silence.

Shame on you, Mr President. Shame on you.


May 28th, 2009

to be fair, he’s made hundreds of promises he hasn’t kept… maybe he really didn’t know which ones the protestors were talking about.

But I also feel this is an appropriate opportunity to say “I told you so” to all my fellow GLBTers who believe you must vote Democrat if you are gay.

Richard Culen

May 28th, 2009

Mr. President:

Please keep your promises about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. AFter all, you are the Commander-IN-Chief. Surely at least, you can temporarily suspend this “permission to lie” rule that is now on the books. Also, your silence is deafening in the discrimation on allowing Gays to marry. Even if you do not agree, it is unconstitutional. You owe it to ALL oppressed people to administer the Constitution that protects people’s basic rights. You cannot carve out a whole class of people and deny them rights that the Constitution protects. WHERE IS YOUR VOICE ON THIS ??????


May 28th, 2009

Is it possible that this is another example of his well-known capacity for self-deprecation? There are plenty of promises he hasn’t made good on yet besides the ones made on LGBT issues.

Here’s the video:


Also Jim, your link doesn’t in fact mention anything about “hundreds of LGBT people and allies protesting,” but only “a gaggle of sign-waving protestors [sic]” whose concerns are not specified. I’m not saying things aren’t as you described, just that the link doesn’t support that.

a. mcewen

May 28th, 2009

On one hand, I still like Obama better than McCain.

Of course on the other, he really needs to say something.

Although on what he said, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. He may not have known what the question was about. We are witnessing Obama’s big weakness – when he makes a joke, it always bites him on the ass.

a. mcewen

May 28th, 2009

Not defending President Obama’s silence but this link gives a different picture of the incident – http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/5/28/736393/-Obama-Doesnt-Mock-Gay-Rights-Protestors-at-CA-Fundraiser.(Updated)


May 28th, 2009

All I can say is that I did not vote for my current President, but I pray for him.


May 28th, 2009

My email to Whitehouse.gov:

Dear President Obama,

I was very disturbed by the recent comments you made at yesterday’s fundraiser in Los Angeles. Specifically, I am referring to your comment where you described a group of protesters outside who were urging you to keep your promise, to which you replied, “I can’t remember which promise” the protesters were talking about.

Allow me to remind you of the promises you made to the gay and lesbian community during the course of your campaign:

*You promised to support legislation expanding hate crime status to include GLBT Americans. So far, you have been silent on this issue.
*You promised to support legislation promoting employment non-discrimination. So far, you have been silent on this issue.
*You promised to end the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of our country’s military. So far, you have continued to SUPPORT this policy by not intervening of the discharges of Daniel Choi and other gay and lesbian soldiers.
*You promised to support marriage equality by supporting legislation to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. So far you have been silent on this issue, even as states like Iowa, Vermont and Maine enact marriage equality protections of their own and even while the legal battle over marriage equality in California continues.

I could go on, but these are the main promises which you made to our community but have not yet kept. We in the GLBT community are tired of politicians begging for our vote and then throwing us aside once they’re sworn in.

During your campaign, you often spoke of the “fierce urgency of now” that motivated you to act to help fix our country. Sadly, on the issues that are important to me and the GLBT community, this urgency seems to have been replaced by “the lazy urgency of when it’s convenent”
It is time to KEEP YOUR WORD and fulfill these promises to us.


May 29th, 2009

During the Primary, I became convinced that Obama is no friend of the GLBT Community. He will side for us when it is convenient for him to do so.

Hillary, on the other hand, is not only an active supporter of our Community, she will support us even when it is NOT convenient to do so.


May 29th, 2009

From what friends tell me there were several demonstrations going on at the same time. The Armenian genocide demonstration was as large as the anti-Prop 8 demonstration. With that in mind, it may have not been flippant.

(I am no Obamabot. I had no expectations that he would do much for the gay community and have not been disappointed. I don’t think Hilary would have been any better. Both are still miles about McCain/Palin, though. )


May 29th, 2009

Pomo, you said:
“But I also feel this is an appropriate opportunity to say “I told you so” to all my fellow GLBTers who believe you must vote Democrat if you are gay.”

While we are severely disappointed in Obama’s inaction, a McCain presidency would have been even worse for GLBTQ people.

McCain would have not only ignored furthering gay rights, but would have probably rolled back rights we already have.

So Obama’s not a godsend, but he’s a hell of a lot better than McCain/Palin.

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2009


I think your speculation is not based on history.

While it is very likely that McCain would have ignored furthering gay rights, nothing in his history shows any inclination to roll back rights that we already have.

And to assume that McCain would have rolled back rights further than the outgoing Bush adminstation is illogical.

Ironically, the situation may be precisely the opposite. At present we have a slight decrease in rights from the outgoing Bush administration (HIV immigration and travel ban) from the Obama administration. Bush had lifted the HIV ban, but Obama reversed his decision as part of a reversal of all late-term Bush decisions.

If we consider that McCain was unlikely to reverse Bush’s policies as a whole, an argument could be made that at least for a very short period we would have been better off with McCain.

Let’s hope and pray (and lobby and pressure) that this short period ends very quickly.

Priya Lynn

May 29th, 2009

Timothy said “Ironically, the situation may be precisely the opposite. At present we have a slight decrease in rights from the outgoing Bush administration (HIV immigration and travel ban) from the Obama administration. Bush had lifted the HIV ban, but Obama reversed his decision as part of a reversal of all late-term Bush decisions.

If we consider that McCain was unlikely to reverse Bush’s policies as a whole, an argument could be made that at least for a very short period we would have been better off with McCain.”.

Bush had also passed a right of conscience for medical workers that would have allowed them to refuse service to people (like gays) on the basis of their religion. Obama also reversed that, which was a good thing. I don’t buy that “for a very short period we would have been better off with McCain.”.

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2009


I believe the “right on conscience” ruling only applied to federal funding for medical facilities that don’t allow employees to refuse to perform abortions. It possibly might have been so loosely worded as to also include contraception and artificial insemination. This is a right, incidentally, that congress protects. Bush’s ruling had only to do with implemenation and reporting.

It does not appear that this could or would have any influence on refusing service to gay people. It’s probably a good thing this ruling was reversed (it was poorly written) but it does not impact gay people disproportionately.

As for what you buy or don’t buy, that’s of little concern. But I do know that those non-native-born who have HIV are greatly concerned about the change from the Bush policy.

I hope the President rectifies the situation soon.

Priya Lynn

May 29th, 2009

Timothy, your feeling that this did not “appear” to have any influence on refusing service to gay people is also of little concern. As we’ve seen in the past if religious people can interpret it this way, they will.


May 30th, 2009

“Bush had lifted the HIV ban”

Not quite. He signed the PEPFAR bill which allowed DHHS to lift the ban but never signed an executive order which would’ve actually lifted the ban. Not to excuse Obama for his lack of action on this point, but it appears you’re giving Bush credit for something he never did.


May 30th, 2009

Veering back on topic, is there any chance of an update for this post to reflect the fact that Obama wasn’t necessarily referring to anti-Prop 8 protesters at all? Here’s an article from the Armenian Daily News which supports the notion that it was Armenian protesters who were chanting ““Obama, keep your promise.” The article also makes clear that there were several different groups gathered that night:

On Wednesday May 27, hundreds [of Armenian-Americans and their supporters] gathered around the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California to remind the President of his broken promise [to recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915 as genocide] as he hosted a Democratic Party fundraiser. Joining them were hundreds of other activists demonstrating for gay rights and an end to the war in Iraq and torture…

Interestingly, Armenian-American’s [sic] were not the only ones demonstrating against Obama’s failure to keep his promieses [sic]. Susan Adelman, a mother protesting for the anti-war organization Code Pink, said that there “is an encompassing lack of major promises not being kept. Whether we’re here to protest against war or the recognition of a genocide, we stand here as reminders of what we believed in when he was campaigning and how closely to our hearts we held these issues.”

The insistence that LGBTs were the only protesters and that Obama was slighting the LGBT community in particular seems embarrassingly solipsistic.


June 1st, 2009

I’m with Obama. What promise are you referring to? The one about marriage equality which never existed?

@Timothy Unless Palin took McCain’s presidency. When her pastor believes the antichrist will be gay, I shudder to think of her presidency.

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2009


There are many reasons to shudder at the thought of a Sarah Palin presidency. But that isn’t one of them.

Rev. Ron Hamman may be from Wasilla but he isn’t her pastor.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.