Responding to critics upset by the Obama administration's inaction on gay issues—expectations were heightened by all that talk of "fierce advocacy"—Jim Messina, the deputy White House chief of staff and point man on LGBT issues, insists that the president's "commitment has not wavered," and "complained that the administration hasn’t gotten enough credit for pushing to outlaw hate crimes" targeting gays and lesbians.

First off, we're not helping the hate crimes cause when we mangle the language like that, and you would expect a politically savvy, highly-placed homo to choose his words more carefully. Hate crimes legislation doesn't "outlaw hate crimes" against queers; they don't confer some sort of special immunity from crime on gays and lesbians. They merely recognize that a hate crime impacts not just the individual victim but an entire group of people; the perpetrators of a hate crime are attempting to make that whole group feel threatened and unsafe. Like premeditation or other factors relating to intent, hate crimes legislation merely allows prosecutors, judges, and juries to take intent and state of mind into account when charging or sentencing someone who targeted a victim based on the victim's race, religion, or sexual orientation. (Gay people and straight people are protected under hate crimes statutes.) It doesn't make it "extra illegal" to punch a fag, as religious groups and no-nothing conservative commentators insist. The White House's point person on LGBT issues shouldn't be playing into their hands on this point.

But more important: hate crimes legislation passed in the last, far-less Dem-heavy Congress, long before Obama was elected president. Says John at Americablog:

They want credit for pushing to outlaw hate crimes? Who exactly is the White House pushing? The bill passed both the House and Senate in the last, more hostile, Congress, and even survived a filibuster attempt. With even more Democrats in this Congress, there isn't anyone needing a push. Obama certainly deserves credit for saying he'd sign the bill, when Bush wouldn't. But that's different than claiming credit for "pushing to outlaw hate crimes"—in essence suggesting that White House pressure is partly responsible for a congressional vote that's already pre-ordained without their help.

Sorry, White Housers, but Hate Crimes isn't going to cut it. We expected Obama to sign the Hate Crimes bill as a matter of course. The promises that really mattered—the promises that got Obama much traction with gay voters, the issues that matter most to LGBT voters—were repealing DADT and scrapping DOMA. If you're upset by the high expectations that gay voters and bloggers have for Obama, blame the president. He raised our expectations with his soaring pro-gay-rights rhetoric and his detailed promises about advancing LGBT equality. Want to mollify the president's queer critics? Stop dissembling and start delivering.