UPDATE: One paragraph in the interview is bringing wide media attention. In it, Obama says that he won’t make the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a “litmus test” for his potential Joint Chiefs of Staff appointees.
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund agrees with Obama’s position. Victory Fund spokesperson Denis Dison says, “In terms of any kind of litmus test for his appointees, I think Obama is correct that the most important qualifications for those jobs are that they agree with his view of how best to protect the country … and other policy issues necessarily take a backseat to that main goal.” Dison emailed me to emphasize that the Victory Fund has not endorsed any candidate.
I had thought that Obama had already stated that his appointees wouldn’t necessarily be bound to his own personal positions. So maybe this bit IS new.
The Advocate’s interview with Barack Obama is up. An excerpt:
The Advocate: Let’s start with what’s hot, why the silence on gay issues? You’ve only done one other interview with the LGBT press. I know people wish they were hearing more from you.
Sen. Obama: I don’t think it’s fair to say silence on gay issues. The gay press may feel like I’m not giving them enough love. But basically, all press feels that way at all times. Obviously, when you’ve got limited amount of time, you’ve got so many outlets. We tend not to do a whole bunch of specialized press. We try to do general press for a general readership.
But I haven’t been silent on gay issues. What’s happened is, I speak oftentimes to gay issues to a public general audience. When I spoke at Ebenezer Church for King Day, I talked about the need to get over the homophobia in the African-American community, when I deliver my stump speeches routinely I talk about the way that antigay sentiment is used to divide the country and distract us from issues that we need to be working on, and I include gay constituencies as people that should be treated with full honor and respect as part of the American family.
So I actually have been much more vocal on gay issues to general audiences than any other presidential candidate probably in history. What I probably haven’t done as much as the press would like is to put out as many specialized interviews. But that has more to do with our focus on general press than it does on … I promise you the African-American press says the same thing.[snip]
The Advocate: Do you have any regrets about the South Carolina tour? People there are still sort of mystified that you gave Donnie McClurkin the chance to get up on stage and do this, and he did go on sort of an antigay rant there.
Sen. Obama: I tell you what, my campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible, and to go into as many places as possible and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence. This goes back to your first question. If you’re segmenting your base into neat categories and constituency groups and you never try to bring them together and you just speak to them individually — so I keep the African-Americans neatly over here and the church folks neatly over there and the LGBT community neatly over there — then these kinds of issues don’t arise.
From what I can tell, no new ground is broken in the interview. Obama talks about repealing DADT, repealing DOMA, and how tough it will be to get a transgender-inclusive ENDA passed in Congress – all familiar positions from him. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t had anything to say to the gay press for six months.