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Obama And The Gay Community

This post was written by CBS News chief political consultant Marc Ambinder:

One reason the Rick Warren thing is a big deal is because, after Bill Clinton, the gay community is unusually sensitive to getting the shorter angle of presidential triangulation. It is hard to overstate the optimism and excitement that gays and lesbians felt in 1992. But the optimism deflated spectacularly after "Don't Ask, Don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act, not to mention President Clinton's sneaky 1996 ad boasting about DOMA, which aired only on Christian radio.

Clinton was willing to say the word "gay" in public and appear in black tie at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, but, in the eyes of the gay political community, his commitment to gay rights vanished both times it counted most.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Relative to other minority groups, the LGBT community is disproportionately dependent on the goodwill of the president, because almost all of their big-ticket agenda items are federal laws (the military, DOMA repeal, hate crimes, ENDA, the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, etc.). And relative to other minorities, gays still want and need basic reassurance that they are an ordinary part of American life and politics. So everyone is peering anxiously at Obama wondering if he is going to let them down like Clinton did.

You can read more about the growing controversy here.

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