Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) made some very encouraging activist noises while being interviewed by Rachel Maddow this evening. She said that she too is impatient, but said she’ll go to the big LGBT DNC gala next week in order to convey the urgency of passing her Domestic Partners bill for Federal employees, as well as repealing DOMA. Getting bills to the President’s desk for him to sign is the most important step for the Congress.
She calls the President’s order today "meaningful but very limited." Congresswoman Baldwin thinks the legislation "really got a boost today from the President’s strong endorsement today."
Today was historic: it’s probably the first time a President of the United States said anything positive about the rights of LGBT Americans live* on television in the Oval Office. But Congresswoman Baldwin points out that Congress is really on the spot now: successful Hate Crimes bills and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act don’t guarantee success in this Congress for other, broader issues like the repeal of DOMA and the repeal of DADT.
Rachel Maddow frames the President’s "seeming reticence" when she asks the Congresswoman about the recent controversy over the horrendous DOMA brief last Friday and the resulting decisions by a number of LGBT donors to withdraw from the big gala next week.
The Congresswoman, channeling her activist’s frustration, tells Rachel very clearly that she feels the impatience and frustration herself. She will use the opportunity next week to convey the sense of urgency, impatience, and frustration. Lacking basic equality and basic civil rights are not acceptable. "We ought to be impatient — that’s a mandate if you’re an activist."
Clearly, the next move is up to Congress — which means activists need to organize, lobby, and push for passage of the bills that matter to us. A bill won’t reach the President without it.
*correction: I don’t think was a live broadcast but supplied by CNN in pool mode; the timestamp when it was aired was 6:15 EDT and there was no "LIVE" chyron atop the screen