Thursday, October 21, 2010

WH Logs: 7 Gays at May DADT Meeting;
Visits: Solmonese 32, Rosen 14

The White House convened a strategy session run by senior presidential adviser Jim Messina on May 24, to devise a plan with gay groups on moves to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. A chief news source on the meeting, from the Advocate, omitted the names of gay participants, which of course piqued my curiosity. The closest I could Google for a list of those names came from a Huff Post essay, which said:

The meeting included Jim Kessler of Third Way, Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Alex Nicholson of Servicemembers United and CAP's [Winnie] Stachelberg [formerly of HRC].

Nice, but I want all of the names. White House visitor logs show the other attendees were Joe Solmonese and David M. Smith of HRC, and Tobias Wolff, and that everyone showed up a little before 10 AM. Everyone left soon after 11 AM, except for Solmonese and Sarvis, who didn't exit the White House until shortly after 2 PM.

Oh, to be part of a community where those folks would have stepped before a public gay audience later that night, and engaged a wide audience about what was discussed and agreed to. And what did Solmonese and Sarvis do for the extra three hours they were there?

Knowing now the names of all the gays who were at the May 24 meeting gives me a fuller picture of how the Obama administration has engaged with professional orgs and advocates.

Looking at the latest logs, Solmonese now stands at 32 visits, that's up one from the last time I searched. For his ex-HRC colleague Stachelberg, she now stands with 12, a jump from 5 listed back in May.

Also doing pretty good for herself with White House access is HRC board co-chair Hilary Rosen with 14 visits, including one on February 24, with four others, and another on March 24 with Valerie "Lifestyle Choice" Jarrett, just the two of them. On February she was one of 6 folks to meet with Messina.

NGLTF executive director Rea Carey has now been to the White House nine times. In March she attended two meetings with the next-to-invisible and so-quiet gay liaison Brian Bond, and there were 6 and 9 other attendees at those meetings. For public liaison, he's obscenely private. On June 3 she met alone with now-departed openly lesbian legal counsel Alison J. Nathan.

As the number of visits by professional gay advocates rises at the White House, and we can see who attended a crucial meeting on DADT, I keep asking, what are average gay folks getting? How we benefit?

May we soon find out via public engagement and town halls with the professionals who are trooping up to the White House on our behalf.

A note of strong warning: If you want to search the White House logs, be prepared to get frustrated with the many steps necessary to search by name, then scroll up/down and left/right trying to grasp when meetings took place, the duration, who the person visited was.

In my decades of drilling down for raw data, I can honestly say the Obama White House gets a passing mark for making the info available, and rather quickly too, but it seriously fails at being user-friendly. Click here to verify the above info, maybe search other visitor names, and see how piss-poor the White House performs with making the data easy to read.

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