White House Hosts First Ever Briefing for LGBT Press

Several members of the LGBT press were invited to the White House today for a briefing by White House staff, including Domestic Policy Chief Melody Barnes. Also at the briefing were White House spokesman Shin Inouye, Office of Public Engagement deputy director Brian Bond and deputy associate White House Counsel Ian Bassin. Lisa Keen of Keen News Service, who attended the briefing, reported the event “was the first time any administration had arranged to deliver such a briefing to LGBT media and take questions, and some lamented that the access has come 18 months into the administration and, thus far, has not included an interview with the president himself.”

According to Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly, those in attendance included The Advocate, the Washington Blade, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News, Pam’s House Blend, AmericaBlog, and Bilerico Project.

Early reports say the briefing provided an opportunity for the White House to brief the journalists on what was happening on LGBT issues, but apparently the journalists also provided some feedback to the White House.

Here’s a report from Joe Sudbay from AmericaBlog.

We know that the administration thinks DADT and DOMA are discriminatory. We’ve heard that many times, but the administration continues to defend those laws in court. But, today, several of us asked Barnes if the administration considers DADT and DOMA unconstitutional? She’s going to get back to us.

From Jillian Weiss at Bilerico Project:

I enjoyed meeting Melody Barnes. She was genuine, personable, and very, very smart and knowledgeable. I am genuinely thankful for the work she and the other members of the Administration, including the President, have put in on LGBT rights.

But I don’t feel like I walked out with any more information than I walked in with. I already knew that the President was letting the legislative branch get away with ignoring LGBT rights.

I’d like to be able to say I was satisfied with these answers. I’m sure you’d like to say nice things too. But it seems we have a fundamental disagreement with the President as to what his job is. Is it to lead — or to follow?

And some news and thorough reporting from Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate:

In a wide-ranging interview with LGBT journalists and bloggers, White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said President Barack Obama had chosen to take steps at the agency level to eliminate inequities for same-sex couples and gave no indication he would move toward supporting full marital rights.

Asked if the president would go beyond incremental fixes to address a lack of marital rights for same-sex couples before 2012, Barnes noted that the president “has consistently called for the repeal of [the Defense of Marriage Act]” and used his “executive authority” to help provide more benefits to same-sex couples through federal agencies.

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