Here's Newsweek's #9 prediction on its list of political predictions for 2010:
Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he's on record as favoring civil unions over marriage). But they've received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won't pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom-and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that's venomously opposed to gay marriage.
Aside from not being surprised if they're right, and hoping they're wrong, the last sentence is problematic. For the political set at the White House and inside-the-Beltway who are no doubt reading Newsweek, it feeds into their conventional wisdom mentality that they will get eaten them alive if they, oh no, take action like protecting LGBT individuals from workplace discrimination.
What this misses is the following:
(a) Obama's approval rating among Republicans in general has averaged between 10% and 20% over the last several months, and even hit single digits. So I have no doubt it's even worse among the conservative base, teabaggers, etc.
Okay. What do they feel that way? Because of the deficit, stimulus, LGBT progress, climate change, health care, the fact that he's African-American, a belief that he wasn't born here, and on and on. In short, conservatives hate Obama because he is acting (somewhat) like a Democrat, and they always will, just as House Republicans will always give zero votes to his more progressive initiatives. And Newsweek thinks that Obama taking action on LGBT is going to awaken some kind of sleeping giant? If that's true, I hope Obama remembers to just play Solitaire for the entirety of 2010 and doesn't, you know, sign a health care bill or anything, since that will really piss the conservatives off. This is like the argument that Democrats have to go on FOX News to "have a conversation" with a demographic that voted 88% for Bush in 2004, because if they don't, FOX News viewers will really dislike them. Hogwash.
Moving on progressive issues, aka keeping your promises, will always piss off conservatives, and that is part of the ballgame. Inaction on progressive issues isn't going to suddenly make conservatives happier. And if you're worried about making them mad, LGBT issues are no worse than any of his other major initiatives, like health care.
(b) If Newsweek is thinking about about energized voters, did they happen to notice an already energized LGBT movement that is pissed as hell at inaction and repeated slights by this Administration? As Mike Lux pointed out, 1994 was lost in major part because the base stays home. If Obama and Democrats in Congress really want to know what, to quote George W. Bush, a "thumpin'" feels like, they should take no action on LGBT issues and watch scores of LGBT people stay home.