I'm in San Francisco, the epicenter of the movement to give LGBT people equality under the law and in the minds of Americans. I'm here to take part in the filming of the movie MILK, based on the life of former San Francisco Supervisor, Harvey Milk. Over the past few days, I've come to have a newfound respect for those who have put their careers and their lives on the line for the simple, yet unbelievably complicated concept of treating us the same as everyone else.
This morning, I read something that fair-minded people everywhere should see. In today's San Francisco Chronicle, I learned something very telling about Barack Obama. He's not the lofty, idealistic Leader that he tells he is.
In 2004, at the height of the firestorm that was set off by Mayor Gavin Newsom authorizing same sex marriages in San Francisco, previous Mayor Willie Brown held a fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama. The candidate had a request to Mayor Brown:
"And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."
Obama sent out his top gay staffer to spin this story away as 'ridiculous'. However, City Hall insiders recall the incident and Mayor Newsom himself addressed the subject, albeit without calling names.
In fact, early last year, Newsom alluded to the incident in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking to Reuters on Jan. 26, 2007, Newsom was asked about three potential Democratic candidates: Obama, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.
He was asked about the flak he took after announcing that San Francisco would allow same-sex marriages - flak that included claims he had helped Republicans by handing them a wedge issue heading into a presidential election year. In the interview, Newsom admitted he'd been hammered over the decision. "And I'm not just saying from Republicans," he added at the time.
"One of the three Democrats you mentioned as presidential candidates, as God is my witness, will not be photographed with me, will not be in the same room with me," Newsom told Reuters, "even though I've done fundraisers for that particular person - not once, but twice - because of this issue."
Here is the problem I've got. Obama tells the gays that he loves them and that we should ignore frat boy comments made in front of a mostly African American audience. He also says that giving a platform and a microphone to an anti-gay minister and gospel singer is okay. Now we learn that he wouldn't even have a photo taken with a straight ally who is a champion for equality.
For all the high-minded talk of an era of post-partisan Leadership, there is little substance to back it up.