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Hattoy, Robert (1950-2007)  
 
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Hattoy warned of the dangers of inaction, saying, "Martin Luther King once said that our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." He acknowledged the "fifty thousand people [who] took to the streets in New York [that day] because they will no longer be silent about AIDS" and stated, "Their actions give me hope."

He concluded his message with an exhortation to the delegates and the viewing public to consider the implications of the election with regard to administration policies: "We must vote as if our life depends on it. Mine does. Yours could. And we all have so much to live for."

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Afterward, Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado declared to the assembly, "If that didn't touch your heart, you didn't have one."

Although Hattoy was buoyed by the presence and support of the glbtq community whom he was proud to call his chosen family, he had no blood relatives in the hall when he gave his impassioned speech. His mother was already deceased, and his father chose to go fishing instead of attending the convention.

When Clinton won the White House, Hattoy joined him there as an associate director of personnel and made it his mission to see that glbtq people had a place in the administration. His assistant Patrick Nolen, also openly gay, stated that Hattoy was tireless, working "sixteen-hour days, seven days a week" to promote worthy glbtq applicants, of whom there was no shortage.

On the résumé of Roberta Achtenberg, a candidate for Under Secretary of HUD, recalled Nolen, "Hattoy scrolled, 'HIRE HER! SHE IS THE BEST!'" In this and many other cases he was successful. Activist William Waybourn stated that "of the more than one hundred GLBT individuals placed with the incoming administration, almost all were shepherded by Bob."

Hattoy regarded the White House as a "bully pulpit" and was determined to use his position to speak on glbtq issues. Journalist Sean Strub of POZ magazine compared him to Midge Costanza, an aide to President Jimmy Carter who had been a proponent for glbtq rights during that administration.

Hattoy was, however, even more audacious and willing to take risks by speaking out. In a 1993 interview he quipped that he had asked his partner, Bob Pelham, "Will you still love me if I'm a waiter at the end of the day?" In fact, though, he was not overly concerned about being fired, noting that Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey had told him, "The President wants you taken care of" with "a job and health insurance and all that."

Nevertheless, stated glbtq activist Keith Boykin, who also served in the Clinton administration, Hattoy was always "getting in trouble just for speaking the truth."

One such occasion occurred when Hattoy was quoted in the New York Times as saying that he "almost started crying" when Clinton--in a news conference following the uproar concerning his attempt to lift the ban on openly gay members of the military that culminated in the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy--referred to the possibility of segregating military troops by sexual orientation.

White House personnel, including press secretary Dee Dee Myers and spokesman George Stephanopoulos, chastised him for criticizing the President and for being "off-message," but Clinton, Hattoy stated, was annoyed that in his comments he had specifically mentioned Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, who strongly opposed allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military. Clinton felt that the statement by a member of his staff violated an agreement that he had with Nunn not to criticize each other publicly for six months (one that Hattoy said that Nunn had already breached).

Despite the moments of friction, Hattoy remained convinced of Clinton's good intentions, and he was pleased to be present at an "amazing meeting" arranged by Boykin in April 1993 at which Clinton received eight leaders of glbtq rights organizations at the White House for a discussion of issues of importance to the community.

Hattoy stated in 1994 that "we do have people, both in Bill and Hillary Clinton, who care profoundly for people with AIDS. But nothing's going to change until we change the attitudes in every other house in America." The scope of the problem was made evident regularly in the mail that he received from people across the country who were either struggling to provide AIDS education and services or had been victims of discrimination.

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