Skeptical gay rights activists aren't satisfied with the forthcoming presidential memorandum ordering federal agencies to provide same-sex partners of government employees with some of the benefits previously reserved for heterosexuals. There is plenty of debate about whether Obama is actually expanding rules that agencies already enforce and have been enforcing since the early Clinton administration. Advocates for gay rights are passing around a link (http://www.obamasplanforgayrights.com/) to an Obama-esque website that purports to unveil his plan for gay rights. Clicking on the website leads you a page with one word: "Nothing."
A senior White House official, asked to respond to the site and its implications, said it was "unfair." The official acknowledged the anger of gay activists but attributed it to perception and magical thinking about Obama's political priorities. Another senior administration official predicted confidently that "we'll turn this around."
What did the first official mean by magical thinking? (That phrase is mine, but I think it characterizes what officials are thinking about the gay rights activists.) Activists, in the White House's view, are incorrectly interpreting Obama's silence as evidence that he does not care or is delaying action on gay rights matters for political reasons. The real reason is that Obama has a lot to do, has prioritized his policies, and wants to tread carefully around cultural minefields, building consensus. Still, it's true that long-time Democratic hands in the West Wing are concerned about pushing too hard, too fast, on cultural issues.