The openly gay and lesbian members of Congress, all Democrats, have endorsed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remain as soon-to-be minority leader in the new Congress, the Washington Blade reports. Her tenure was also praised this week by the Human Rights Campaign, which operates as a Democratic party fundraising machine. But some moderate Democrats and remaining “blue dogs” from swing districts don’t think the ultra-liberal San Franciscan is the best choice going forward, pointing out that she’s “politically toxic” outside of liberal enclaves. That’s probably right.
On gay issues, Pelosi’s achievements were limited to (in my view) a bad federal hate crimes bill and passage of legislation that would have allowed the president to end don’t ask, don’t tell, but which died in the Senate. The Pelosi House never moved on modifying the Defense of Marriage Act (which bars the federal government from recognizing state-sanctioned same-sex unions), or even the liberal-championed Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
From the Blade story:
“Speaker Pelosi has been a consistent ally and advocate not just for LGBT people but for all fair-minded Americans throughout her congressional career,” [Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president of communications] said. “She has vigorously supported full and equal rights for LGBT people long before it was politically acceptable to do so.”
But John Aravosis, the gay editor of AMERICAblog, said Pelosi is responsible in part for the lack of progress on pro-LGBT legislation during the first two years of President Obama’s administration. Still, while he said he’s not completely satisfied with Pelosi, Aravosis said other LGBT advocates in power deserve worse job evaluations.
“All of our leaders let us down: HRC, Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi,” Aravosis said. “Having said that, Nancy Pelosi strikes me as the least culpable of the four. I’m not happy that she wasn’t able to even get ENDA through committee, but I’m a lot less happy at the moment with HRC, President Obama and Harry Reid. Pelosi at least came through for us part-way, the others have been MIA the last two years.”
Solely looking at Pelosi from the angle of gay rights advocacy, that view may make sense. But from a larger perspective, she has done a great disservice to the cause of gay equality by helping to cement the perception that pro-gay legislation is part of a broader mega-government, regulatory-state agenda that stems from the left flank of the Democratic party. That perception is not helping to advance our cause, to say the least.