Obama Works to Address Concerns Among Gay Supporters

White House lending a deaf ear to LGBT community, some leaders say.

ByABC News
June 29, 2009, 11:42 AM

June 29, 2009 -- When hundreds of leaders from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gathered in the East Room of the White House Monday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the launch of the gay rights movement, President Obama worked to assuage concerns that his administration has not made much progress in addressing gay issues.

Democratic activists in the LGBT community have said that President Obama's campaign promises to end the military's "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy and to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act do not seem to be top-tier priorities. When a legal brief, filed earlier this month by the Obama administration defended DOMA it provided another spark to the current intraparty strain.

"I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese at the time of the filing.

The New York Times reported Sunday that one of Obama's top campaign lieutenants expressed some of that pain directly to the president in an Oval Office conversation last week.

One Democratic Party leader said the concerns from the LGBT community are not falling on deaf ears. "They are very aware of the frustration that some members of our community are having, and they are taking them very seriously," said Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and head of the DNC's Association of State Democratic Chairs, who is gay.

Last week, the DNC held a fundraiser with LGBT activists in Washington, D.C., where Vice President Joe Biden served as the keynote speaker. There were approximately 50 protesters outside the fundraiser and several high-profile Democratic donors from the LGBT community reportedly boycotted the dinner.