The best part about President Obama's frequent ATM stops in L.A. are the myriad protesters who storm Beverly Hills and try to seek out his motorcade.
Among them, always, are the LGBT activists, angry that the president still hasn't come out in support of gay marriage (perhaps in fear of further alienating the religious right).
But Obama finally gave his kiss of approval to Gay Nation today…
… telling ABC News quite resolutely that “same sex couples should be able to get married.” Here's his speech in full:
“I've always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly. I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Oh hell yes! If we weren't chained to a cubicle right now, we'd head straight to West Hollywood to observe the impromptu street parade that has surely erupted in reaction to the presidential endorsement.
But this poses a small problem for GetEQUAL, the Occupy L.A.-affiliated gay-rights group that was planning, as usual, to protest Obama's arrival in Studio City tomorrow.
“We're trying to figure out the next step,” says GetEQUAL spokesman Dan Fotou, sounding conflicted.
“His endorsement is great, and we're very happy.”
However, Fotou reminds us that Obama has yet to sign an executive order that would bar same-sex discrimination by federal contractors. So the activists might still show up to protest that.
Obama's blessing comes just a day after a Washington Post columnist reported that various rich gay Democrats have been pulling out of his Super PAC because he wouldn't sign the executive order. (Ah, yes. Nothing kicks a politician into gear like the threat of losing campaign funds!)
Fotou of GetEQUAL says that in light of the announcement, “it may be more of a mixed-message protest. There is a 'thank you' because this is big news. But we're not sure how to message it. We're figuring that out now.”
According to Fotou, the protest turnout normally ranges from about 20 to 100 people. But he admits today's big gay-marriage victory “may discourage some protesters from coming. … We may see a change in how folks feel.”
From the group's Facebook page:
“There is PLENTY of work to do, including urging Obama to sign the Executive Order that would give workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors (22% of the US workforce), but for this afternoon, we smile, say thank you and celebrate. Tonight, we go back to pushing for Full Federal Equality.”
No rest for the weary!
Update: L.A. pols are scrambling over one another to release their official reaction statements to the press. “I do have tears in my eyes,” Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay L.A. councilman, tells KPCC. “This is something we've been fighting for forever and we are so happy to see our president join us in our basic civil and human rights.” Meanwhile, Councilman Eric Garcetti writes on Facebook: “Today, our President moved us closer to fulfilling the promise of equality and fairness upon which our nation was founded. When you put the politics aside, it's simple: when two people love each other and want to get married, it's nobody's business but their own.” And the mayor chose to air his solidarity via Twitter:
We stand w/Pres. Obama – love doesn't have a color, love doesn't care if you're gay or straight. Love doesn't discriminate #MarriageEquality
— Antonio Villaraigosa (@villaraigosa) May 9, 2012