Socarides, DOMA & The Public Record
Veteran NYC-based gay journalist Duncan Osborn, who currently writes for Gay City News, has done gay accountability activists a huge favor, and I extend many thanks to him.
He used one tool at our collective fingertips to check the public record, for any proof of this recent claim by Richard Socarides: "I urged Clinton not to sign DOMA at the time, both publicly and privately. I did everything I could to stop it. This is all part of the public record."
Here's what Duncan found:
I went into Lexis and searched for news articles, press releases, etc. on Socarides prior to January 1, 2001. I got 126 hits though many were the same document sitting in separate databases. I found nothing to suggest that he ever challenged the Clinton administration in any serious way over any policy. The press release below is from 1997.
Bear in mind, this was a promotion and people who are a pain in the ass don't get promoted in any institution. Additionally, there is no mention of Socarides in Clinton's autobiography or The Clinton Tapes so he certainly didn't make a lasting impression on Bill Clinton.
I found [a] Washington Post article that I think accurately represents Socarides' time in the Clinton White House. He was a proponent of an incremental agenda for the gay community and his primary job was selling Clinton to us not the other way around.
When you're boasting that you got the president to say the right words in a 1999 speech and you've been working in that institution for six years, well, that's just not very impressive, but then consider who his boss was.
I should say that Socarides' behavior was no different from the other 200 or so people who got jobs in the Clinton administration except for Bob Hattoy. None of those folks, except Hattoy, made waves when Clinton signed DOMA or pulled any of his other anti-gay moves though I may have forgotten such details. There were no threats to resign and make a public stink.
This is the release that Duncan found:
THE WHITE HOUSE
February 24, 1997
PRESIDENT CLINTON NAMES RICHARD SOCARIDES AS SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND SENIOR ADVISOR FOR PUBLIC LIAISON
The President today named Richard Socarides as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Public Liaison. Socarides was the liaison to the lesbian and gay communities for the White House in 1996, when he served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Political Affairs.
In his new post, Socarides will serve the gay and lesbian communities as well as additional constituencies.
From 1993 to 1996, Socarides was White House Liaison for the Department of Labor, and prior to that was Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) political advisor. A native of New York, Socarides was a partner in the law firm of Squadron, Ellenoff, Plesent & Sheinfeld.
He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD.) He was one of the principal organizers in 1995 of the first-ever White House Conference on HIV/AIDS.