John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking openly gay official in the Obama Administration, speaks with The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld and offers a relatively frank albeit disappointing outlook on the Administration's LGBT legislative agenda. Berry infers some goals may have to have wait for a possible second term. The OPM director also defends the Obama Administration's highly offensive motion to dismiss a challenge to the Defense Of Marriage Act.
First, the good news: "[T]he Obama administration hopes to secure passage of Hate Crimes this coming week and that President Obama is soon to announce an initiative pertaining to providing federal LGBT employees with benefits equivalent to those provided to their heterosexual counterparts."
On the DOMA brief: "Our strongest argument against "don’t ask, don’t tell" is that we stand with the truth. And that we, more than anyone, know the cost of lying and the terrible pain it invokes. This president took a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and he does not get to decide and choose which laws he enforces. He has to enforce the laws that have been enacted appropriately and that he has inherited. It would be wrong for me or any of our community to advise him to lie or to shirk his responsibility. He’s doing his job. He has made clear that he stands for the repeal of DOMA. It will be part of this administration’s agenda to accomplish that act. We ought not waste energy and angst attacking him when we should be focusing the energy and effort on getting 218 votes in the house and 60 votes in the Senate, and that’s where we ought to target the energy and the strength of this community and this president is with us, this is our agenda and it’s his agenda."
Richard Socarides, an attorney and former White House LGBT advisor to Bill Clinton, says just the opposite in this excellent essay at Americablog. Berry does not address the outrageous and gratuitous arguments used throughout the filing and (unfortunately) the reporter doesn't probe further.
Berry says the Administration's "four broad legislative goals" include hate crimes, ENDA, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and DOMA with this very interesting footnote: "Now, I’m not going to pledge—and nor is the president—that this is going to be done by some certain date. The pledge and the promise is that, this will be done before the sun sets on this administration—our goal is to have this entire agenda accomplished and enacted into law so that it is secure." The Advocate asked several times does that include a second term. "I say this in a broad sense—our goal is to get this done on this administration’s watch.
Berry: Hate Crimes May Pass Next Week [Advocate]