msnbc News   |  June 27, 2010

Gay advocates critical of Obama

Msnbc's Alex Witt talks Democratic strategist Richard Socarides, who says President Obama need to act more boldly to improve gay rights.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> people are celebrating gay pride today, even as many lament a lack of pride on gay rights issues in washington. an associated press says that instead of the sweeping change gays and lesbians had sought, a piece by piece approach has been the administration's favored strategy. drawing neither lavish praise or criticism.

>> i know you wrote in the " wall street journal " on friday about all of this. what do you want to say to the president?

>> i wrote the piece on friday in an effort to get the president to act more boldly, more in keeping with the promises he made during the campaign. we eek elected him because we thought he would be a leader on equality for gays and lesbians and lead us into the future, and the future is now. things changing very rapidly. i talk in my piece that everybody from laura bush to megan mccain to dick cheney and al gore have all come around and said gay people ought to get married and that's our number one issue, and the president still supports for civil unions and says is he for full equality. we would like him to move especially on this.

>> are there areas where the president has met your expectations?

>> you know, he's done a lot, more than any other president so far, but, of course, he doesn't have a lot of competition except for perhaps bill clinton , that category. and he's made some significant announcements and made an effort around don't ask, don't tell. we think he could have asked the don't ask, don't tell discharges right away, and the military has been allowed to stall on this, even though 80% of americans support open service by gays and lesbians in the military.

>> all americans, gay and otherwise, are certainly upset by the oil spill and the issues in iraq and way. does that give you consolation that perhaps the president's heart is in the right place, but the practicality may not be there?

>> i will say that i served in the white house on president clinton 's staff. and i appreciate it can be a busy police, hard to get stuff done. but i don't buy into the notion that you can only do so many things. the man is the president. he can put somebody in charge of it and have them run with it, number one. and number two, i think this glass half empty , half full equation is not really smart. i mean, you're either fully equal or you're not. when it comes to basic fundamental issues that are so important to us in america, like full equality, you are either equal or you're not. i think he could push much harder on a lot of issues.

>> what does the president need to publish realistically for him to maintain the support he has had with his last election when you look ahead to 2012 ?

>> before he runs for re-election, he has to come out for marriage equality . ted olson is prosecuting the case in california. and i think the president has to be on the right side of history on that. elected officials everywhere are moving, and he needs to be with us on that.

>> i understand you'll go to the gay pride parade in new york right after this.

>> we will march with mayor bloomberg , with senator gillibrand and senator schumer, all of whom support marriage equality in new york state.

>> enjoy the parade. quite a spectacle and a lot of fun to watch.

>> thank you, alex.