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METRO WEEKLY: From your — or your organization’s — perspective, what is the most immediate effect of the presidential election on the LGBT community?
JON HOADLEY: From before day one, Obama has had a fully inclusive approach to our community. Even his transition team serves as a model for things to come. Not only did he immediately put into a place a non-discrimination policy related to hiring for the transition team that was inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity, but also he isn’t pigeonholing his LGBT staff into LGBT roles. This sends a message that our issues will be addressed and we will be treated as full people.
MW: Since the 1990s, a small number of LGBT issues have consistently emerged at federal legislative level: gays in the military, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, partner immigration, hate crimes and marriage equality. With a Democratic congress and president, which of those issues do you believe should be prioritized?
HOADLEY: It’s hard to say that only one should be a priority because we as a movement should be far enough long that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. While we’re continuing on the work of building support for a comprehensive Employment Non-Discrimination Act that is inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity, we can also be working on passing hate crimes legislation.
We’ve learned a lesson from the Clinton administration. Even when we have friends in Congress and the White House it doesn’t necessarily mean passing legislation will be smooth sailing. We still have a lot of ground work that needs to be done. So let’s hold Democrats accountable to their campaign promises, but let’s also be willing to put some sweat equity into supporting a pro-equality legislative agenda.
MW: Will Congress be able to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA?
HOADLEY: Yes, if we keep doing the work that needs to be done. The incoming Democrats and the returning sophomore Democrats support equality. Over the last year people have been working on increasing grassroots support. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and other Congressional Democrats held critical hearings on gender identity discrimination in the work place. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Congressman Frank created the Equality Caucus. These are all signs that the work is happening that needs to be done and we’re thinking smarter about doing the ground work that needs to be done to pass legislation.
MW: Protections for and recognition of LGBT federal employees have often been attacked under the Bush administration. How do you believe the landscape will change for LGBT federal workers under the new administration? Will Obama’s pledge to extend domestic partner benefits come through?
HOADLEY: The landscape is changing because we have an administration that believes that all people are entitled to equal protection under the Constitution. I expect that President-elect Obama’s transition team’s policies will be models for inclusion moving forward. And with President-elect Obama as a Democrat who has championed the need for equal pay for equal work, I believe the extension of domestic partner benefits for federal workers is likely in the first term.
MW: The Bush administration has been lauded for its work in Africa on HIV/AIDS. How do you think an Obama administration will influence HIV/AIDS policy in the U.S.?
As a community organizer and as a political leader, President-elect Obama has shown that he values intellectually honest and accurate information. When he publicly took an HIV test he began the first step to dispelling the stigma around HIV testing. I expect to see him continuing to break barriers and stigma in the realm of HIV/AIDS both domestically and abroad.
MW: What does the loss on same-sex marriage in California — as well as Arizona and Florida — plus the barring of adoption rights in Arkansas say about the state of GLBT issues in America?
HOADLEY: We need to do things differently if we expect different results. As someone who has run these types of campaigns before, I know the heartache that is felt after the campaign. However, we also need to hold people accountable for the results. Let’s find out what worked and what did not work.
But let’s also not delude ourselves. The majority of people in America don’t support marriage equality yet. If we think they do, we’re lying to ourselves.
MW: A number of rationales have emerged for the California loss — minority voters supporting both Obama and Prop. 8, low turnout in some areas such as San Francisco, ”No on 8” messages that avoided being too ”gay,” etc. — what do you think needs to be addressed among those in order to move forward in that state?
HOADLEY: Let’s look at the data and find out what worked and what didn’t work instead of all trying to be arm-chair pundits. It’s easy to criticize in retrospect-and we all love to do it-but that’s not fair to the campaigns. That said, clearly something didn’t work right or we would have won. It doesn’t do our movement any good moving forward if we pretend we won when the voters said we didn’t.