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Proudly Out: Mainlining for Political Junkies

Proudly Out: Mainlining for Political Junkies

The last week or so has been just great for political junkies like writer Libby Post. There’s so much going on it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what to write about, so she starts with Rod Blagojevich, Nancy Sutley and Caroline Kennedy.

The last week or so has been just great for political junkies like me. There’s so much going on it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what to write about.

There’s the ongoing “Senate Seat for Sale” melodrama in Illinois. I know that some in the gay community think Rod Blagojevich is totally guilty just based on his haircut alone. But, bad hair isn’t enough to convict a man on the multiple counts that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has filed against the Illinois governor. Wanting to maintain a proper--actually it’s more like a few football fields worth of distance--between the new administration and the President-Elect’s own governor, the Obama team has released its own internal investigation, which reiterated Fitzgerald’s contention. There’s been no Obama camp involvement with the pay to play scandal.

Whether talking about a crime is actually committing a crime is the ultimate conundrum of the Blagojevich affair. It seems no money had changed hands yet--at least as far as selling Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat goes. But Blagojevich is politically dead in the water and should resign. He can no longer do his job effectively and Illinois, just like our other 49 states, deserves a governor who can actually function and get something done.

While Blagojevich was trying to get someone to pay him big bucks for the Senate appointment, a bunch of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders were meeting with officials of the Obama Transition Team to make our case for openly gay appointments in the administration. A stark difference to Blagojevich’s tactics, there was no pay to play in this meeting. Instead, it was about competent queers having a place at the White House’s big table--we weren’t just talking about mid-level appointments but an openly gay member of the Cabinet.

I’m the first one to say that competency trumps being queer any day of the week--in other words, just because you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender that doesn’t mean you get a job with the administration. But, the days of us standing around as window dressing are over. After all, 2009 isn’t just the year that Obama will take his first oath of office as President. It’s also the year we’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Stonewall—the seminal event that began the modern gay rights movement.

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Who would have thought that the gays and drag queens who rioted the night Judy Garland died would have planted the seeds for new generations of LGBT academics, politicians, economists, public administrators, policy makers and the like who can be defined by their expertise rather than just by with whom they love.

This past Sunday evening, Barney Frank was profiled on 60 Minutes. That fact that he is gay was a footnote to the role he’s played in trying to straighten out the country’s financial fiasco. There are plenty of Barney Franks--LGBT people with expertise that can make our government work better. The meeting with Obama’s Transition Team and the work of the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund’s Appointments Project has brought over 1,400 talented LGBT people with expertise who could openly and proudly serve our country to the table--all the Obama team needs to do is ask.

So far, one of us has been and she said yes. Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles’ deputy mayor for energy and the environment who is also an out lesbian, has been tapped to chair the President-Elect’s White House Council on Environmental Quality. While not a Cabinet seat, Sutley is sure to have a seat at the table when the new administration deals with the biggest environmental challenge the world has yet to face--global warming.

So there’s pay to play in Illinois, not paying to play in DC and now Caroline Kennedy saying she thinks she might like to play in New York.

I, for one, welcome Kennedy entrance on to New York’s political stage. I think it will be very difficult for our governor, David Paterson, to say no to her. Above and beyond the obvious political pedigree that she’ll bring to the job, Kennedy’s quiet intelligence and commitment to public service will give New York a new type of Senator--just like Barack Obama is giving the nation a new type of President. Just like Obama, Kennedy can give us change we can believe in. And for those hard nosed politicos out there, she can also tap the national fund raising base New York will need in 2010 when all statewide elected posts are up.

If that’s not a good enough reason to let Caroline Kennedy into the sandbox, I don’t know what is.

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Libby Post