Gay community: Don't give up on Obama yet

Karol Collymore

The GLBTQ community's concern about Obama failing to keep his campaign promises has me worried. I have faith that he's going to keep his end of the bargin, but for days I've had no way to articulate that except with the old-fashioned earnestness of, "Come on! Give him a chance!" I also have felt a bit uncomfortable under the stares and the implication that Hillary would have done differently. I finally decided to talk to someone who's political experience and opinion I could trust to help me make sense of the conflict.

Roey Thorpe - GLBT activist and current political director of Planned Parenthood - had this to say: "What president in history has ever done anything for the gay community? Only Barack Obama." She kept going: "What president has even said the word gay? Bill Clinton did, then he looked us in the eye and signed DOMA."

In five months, Barack Obama has already done more for the GLBT community that any president in history by extending benefits to domestic partners. By all measures he seems to want to keep going. He has never stopped saying that he'll work to repeal DOMA and he continues to say the words "gay" and "lesbian" without lowering his tone of voice or looking away from the camera. Obama went as far as penning a personal letter to a solider - discharged for coming out - saying he would do something about Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I don't want the pressure to let up on President Obama, but I don't want committed GLBTs and allies to give up on him either. Our voices need to encourage him to keep going in the quest for complete equal rights under the law. We will remind him that we are here to defend him from attacks from the Right as he makes way for GLBT freedoms and support him as he kicks down the walls. We also need to remind our members of Congress that we want them to give Obama a bill to sign.

Watch Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin talk to Rachel Maddow about what it's going to take, congressionally, for futher action:

Comments

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    BHO made it extremely clear during the campaign that he was vehemently opposed to gay marriage based on his religious convictions. He recently took it one step farther by having his Justice Dept file a brief supporting the Defense of Marriage act, something he could have quite easily avoided.

    None of this should come as a shock to anyone since the demographic group most opposed to gay marriage are African Americans in general and African American males in particular.

    On the surface it seems the queer community has been played by a skilled politician.

    The irony is that Dick Cheney now has a more progressive view of gay marriage than the man most gays endorsed for president.

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    Buckman Res: I think surveys have showh that it's not the AA community, rather age and religion that determines whether a person is against gay marraige or not. Upon further review in California, that is what was shown. There are many Black people that are members of the community who don't want their race painted in that broad of a brush.

    Obama's primary reason for turning over DOMA is so that the states can make their own determination - as they are doing all over the country.

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    Good question: how do GLBT Americans avoid dividing ourselves as a community over the pace towards our equality? As you noted, the Obama administration is making positive changes for same-sex partners of Federal employees. It is has also announced that same-sex marriages will be included in statistics to be released by the 2010 Census.

    And, as we seek equality, how will we and our allies respond to the growing resistance? The Associated Press has reported that anti-gay bias crimes are up 28% over the past year, and are at the highest level since 1999. There is anecdotal evidence mounting of an increase in anti-gay bias and violence right here in Portland (a group is organizing to respond to this issue as the PDX Queer Town Hall).

    Speaking personally, and taking the long view, LGBT equality is moving forward at a steady clip. At the same time, second class citizenship is expensive. It's frustrating waiting for politicians to decide the time is "right" for my community to be treated equally as an American citizens, when all it would take on several fronts is a bit of political courage in Congress and a few pen strokes on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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    Ahhh yes. And as Buckman Res reminds us, the right-wingers are already seizing on this as a wedge issue.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    I call BS.

    Obama's "memo" the other day was nothing more than a sop.
    1. No retirement/healthcare benefits included. 2. Bill Clinton had already allowed all depts. of government to allow these benefits... and most did. 3. Hillary Clinton has moved ahead with REAL benefits in the State Dept.... by making them dependent upon something outside of DOMA's purview... but Obama won't let the rest of the US government follow her lead.

    Sorry Karol. The gays are angry. And we have every right to be. Obama can shout from the mountain tops how wonderful we are, if he then turns around and allows the Justice Dept to compare us to pedophiles and our relationships to incest... that means war. Worse... this DOJ brief becomes a tool the right wing can use and cite against us in future battles.

    And he only managed to come up with the sop when the gay money train started slowing down, and some major blogs started attacking DNC fundraising. Pathetic.

    Gays fully expect Republicans to harm us. But when Dems own the White House and both houses of Congress, we really don't see why they need to kick the can down the road.

    I will fully support the president when I agree with him, but I won't be giving another dime to federal Democratic candidates until DOMA is repealed, DADT is replealed and ENDA is passed. It's that simple.

  • John Visser (unverified)
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    C'mon Karol:

    Obama says the word gay to get our votes - no surprise there. The benefits for domestic partners effects less than 1/2 of 1% of all LGBT Americans. It's a mighty pitiful scrap. So Obama has done more than other presidents, but when you realize that all other presidents have done nothing, it kinda puts it into perspective - yes Obama has done something, but it is extremely small and almost entirely meaningless.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    The gay community seems intent on marginalizing itself with this drum beat of Obama hatred. Rather than building bridges and gaining allies they seem intent on alienating those allies they already have. I've seen more hatred and toxic language from the gays in the blogosphere than I see from the right. If you want straight people and Dems to stand with you, this is not the way. Apparently having a job doesn't matter, having health care doesn't matter, war and peace don't matter, only gay marriage and hating Obama matters.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    Bill R.: Having a job matters, but without ENDA, we can be fired from ours. Having health care matters, but our partners can't share ours.

    We don't hate Obama, we're just angry... like when a family member screws up, you respond more than when somebody down the street you don't like screws up.

    We've spent decades doing the ground work for much of this legislation, then, suddenly, they won't even have a vote on ENDA (it's been pulled).

    Gimme a break. We have every right to be pissed off... with Obama, and Democrats in general. They need to quit paying lip service and actually do something.

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    pacnwjay - I think pressure is right: limiting donations, letting Obama know, reminding him who voted for him. Clearly that's what got fast movement on health rights for domestic partners. Keep that up but I don't think the rancor needs to be included. Not only has Obama done more than any other president, he's done more faster for GLBTs. It's only been five months. No other so-called minority group has ever gotten action this fast from anyone. If this is the clip he's working on, it shouldn't be too much longer before we see more on the horizon.

    We liberals always should be wary of eating our young. That is why our power is so fleeting. We are ready to go after each other but forget about the other side. Even in Republican party destruction, they are mostly sticking together. We can disagree but still support those that are on our side.

  • Johnny5 (unverified)
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    A time for baby steps, and a time for giant leaps. What time is it again? Good clip: http://www.newsy.com/videos/first_step_or_broken_promise

  • Kento Azegami (unverified)
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    Have you read the DOMA brief?

    The courts have followed this principle, moreover, in relation to the validity of marriages performed in other States. Both the First and Second Restatements of Conflict of Laws recognize that State courts may refuse to give effect to a marriage, or to certain incidents of a marriage, that contravene the forum State's policy. See Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws § 134; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 284.5 And the courts have widely held that certain marriages performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See, e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, "though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened the public policy of th[at] state"); Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson's Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages "prohibited and void"). The fact that States have long had the authority to decline to give effect to marriages performed in other States based on the forum State's public policy strongly supports the constitutionality of Congress's exercise of its authority in DOMA.
  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    I think we wouldn't be seeing "the gay rage" right now if it weren't for that DOMA brief. As a community we know that we have to be actively patient. We know that the president can really be no more than a bully pulpit. And while I don't think he has been putting enough pressure on Congress since he has taken office I don't think he has done an over-all "bad job" on the GLBT front. He should never have let the brief be filed. It's one thing to file a legal brief as your "constitutional duty" even it's for a law you don't agree with. It's another thing to let a legal brief be filed that essentially uses every single "boogeyman stereotype" that places like Focus and NOM use to degrade us.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    @ pacnwjay

    What I have seen written by gay bloggers is personal, more than simply "beyond being pissed off." Personal attacks on the president, and racist attacks on African Americans, blaming them for the California referendum outcome, hateful attacks on African American ministers who don't support gay marriage. This is divisive and injurious and simply helps the extremist right wing. I have been a long time supporter of gay rights, but I'm beginning to wonder if this toxic brew that is being whipped up is something I want any part of. If you want to take down the president and the democratic party, because they don't give you what you want, and right now, if you want to whip up more hatred in this country, then please count me out.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Timing, Karol! I watched a good interview with Rachel Maddow and Charlie Rose last night and determined to share that up here. You beat me to it you heady bloggeresse.

    One thing that struck me was the probing erudition, the sleekness and clarity of her mind. She's fast as an otter in bracing clear water. IT was a joy to engage.

    One thing I wanted to point out, while posting some links, was that HER way of expressing the disappointment of her compatriots of the Left, as well as, specifically, LGBT, was NOT muzzy, ranting, foggy. It was not bellicose. It was alive, quicksilver, engaging, and real. She is a great face to the masses, and allows for there to be dialog and discussion, even disagreement without the need to badger, belabor and bemoan.

    It's hopeful that BO posters on this topic could PLEASE just take a little time out and enjoy her interviews and take note of intelligent, responsive repartee. She stands in the center of her hoop without carpet bombing you for standing in the center of yours.

  • rw (unverified)
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    ... and I also got a quick reminder that BO is a DEMOCRATIC PARTY blog space; not a Left instrument.

    Not a judgement. Just reminded myself last night and this morning to remember who it is your home you are visiting when you come here. And rather than burn the house down b/c you disapprove, remember you are a guest if you are not a Democrat. And notice that the hosts treat you pretty ok in the light of that.

  • rw (unverified)
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    YOu know what is funny? In the Native communities there is a LOT of redneck prejudice against gays. We are left out of ALL discussion, even on the points that make us look bad! Heheheh.

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    Bill R.,

    If you've seen more hatred from gays than the right against Obama, even with the anger on the DOMA brief, that just means you don't have anyreal idea about the right wing on the blogosphere.

    I have seen very little from LGBTQ people that could fairly be called hatred. Anger, yes. An honest debate over what is the best course for political action and rhetoric, yes. But hatred? No.

    From the right wing? Cascades and waterfalls, floods and tsunamis of hatred.

    Start with freerepublic.com and go from there.

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    Obama's "memo" the other day was nothing more than a sop.

    I don't know all the details, but I do believe that what Obama did was as much as he could via executive order. Truly changing benefits for federal employees is going to require legislation.

    As the National LGBT Bar Association wrote:

    "We applaud the President's memo as an important first step toward workplace equality for government employees," said D'Arcy Kemnitz, Executive Director of the National LGBT Bar Association. "But there is still much more to be accomplished. The president's action should spur Congress to finish the job and pass the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act."

    I get frustrated when a progressive leader takes an "important first step" and their supposed allies then slam them for not going far enough and fast enough. I'm impatient too, but it's important to understand how the legislative process works. Yes, keep on the pressure - but don't abandon all hope and bail out.

    The president is the leader of one branch of government, not an all-powerful king. (And thank god for that.)

  • rw (unverified)
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    ... and, again, though it takes ALL voices to cause movement, please consider using tactics like Rachel M's. Forgo invective and high-pitched, accusative rants. Press your point, but stay engaged. How can you tell if you are engaged? Check to see if you are listening to them or merely talking to yourself waiting for them to finish so you can start up again. Do you want him to operate merely out of fear of you, or do you want change to come from authentic investment in your humanity?

    Which do you believe will be more lasting and bring about the social justice evolutions you say that you crave?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    @ Chris

    Well, what I have seen is not disappointment, it is malicious personal attack on the integrity of the president. And expressed desire to bring injury to his presidency and the Dem. party. And expressed hatred of African Americans who don't support gay marriage. The idea seems to be, if you don't agree with me, you're worth of my contempt. That is the kind of pervasive ill will that is being spread around the internet by knee jerk reactions from many bloggers. You can take issue with my characterization of the right wing, but the gay community should take caution about spreading a whole lot of ill will with people who might be otherwise be your friends. Blue Oregon is turning into a good example of malignant and festering ill will, towards nearly every one.

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    It keeps getting reported as a memorandum, Kari calls it a memo then an Executive Order. An Executive Order is a formal designation with specific kinds of authority and legal status. I don't know, but I wonder if this "memorandum" is something weaker in its legal status, or if he might have been able to go further with an actual Executive Order if this is not one.

    The NGLBTBA item Kari cites makes clear that legislation is their priority and that they are using the president's memo as an occasion to try to advance that. It doesn't say that Obama couldn't have done more off his own bat, which would distract from the legislation message. I don't know if he could or couldn't.

    I do think that as president, Mr. Obama could intervene in the DOMA brief situation, order it to be withdrawn and rewritten, say he refuses to associate his administration with such repulsive, hate-filled, and abusive arguments and that they don't constitute any legitimate form of defense of DOMA, even if the administration is obliged to defend the law.

    Actually that's a question on which I am not sure either. I believe that the JD sometimes, rarely, argues against a law signed by a previous president. Actually I'm pretty sure you could find Bush admin cases. I could be wrong about that.

    It may also be that the JD genuinely disagrees with the legal validity of the specific arguments for overturning DOMA in this case, so it is not entirely a pro forma defense. Even if so, that doesn't justify using illegitimate arguments to defend it. President Obama should direct the Attorney General to modify the administration's approach in the case.

    On benefits, it may be that the legislative strategy is the best way forward. Has President Obama endorsed the legislation? He could do that if he hasn't. Understanding how he is approaching the legislation would carry considerable weight with me in evaluating Karol's argument, which I take seriously. Is he opposed? Silent? Endorsed but not talking about it himself beyond that? Taking active leadership?

    BTW thanks for providing information on the specific name of the bill, Kari.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    ... and I also got a quick reminder that BO is a DEMOCRATIC PARTY blog space;

    Say it ain’t so!! Last time I checked the BO manifesto it identified this blog as a place for “progressives” to rant, not the exclusive cyber turf of Dem party members where all else are guests.

    Just setting the record straight.

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    Kari

    Precisely (this is what I said on KATU the other night)--any further extension of federal benefits would require a congressional vote.

    I'll just recapitulate a few things I said in that interview (most of which was of course cut):

    • DOMA passed overwhelmingly (342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate).

    • Obama has a lot on his plate right now, health care reform, financial services reform, a staggering economy, and international crises in Iran and North Korea. He has to prioritize.

    • There seems to be a very strong, if not unstoppable, movement toward recognition of gay marriage, including many private and some public entities allowing full benefits; judicial remedies in some states; and a very positive movement in NE state legislatures.

    And not most problematic of all: do you REALLY want the Justice Department to get so far out ahead of both the Congress, SCOTUS, and public opinion? I know if you believe this is a fundamental civil right, then there is no question that you want every political leader to take the brave political stand.

    But it is very risky to have the DoJ attempt, via a filing, to override an overwhelming congressional majority as well as at least 5 members of the current Court.

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    I think the Obama administration is doing well on many fronts at the moment, particularly foreign policy IMO, but the jury is still out on other areas. On some issues, I believe the trend indicates that the president's sincere desire to build consensus with all stakeholders may be prove his undoing if he is not careful, especially since a majority of the right has shown little desire to meet anywhere near the middle. The president, however, should not be aiming to meet in the middle--he needs to aim to the left of it. (So far the only controversial measure pushed through was the financial rescue packages that the Republicans all backed until the moment W. left office when they suddenly opposed them.)

    There are deep disagreements on substantial issues, especially social policy, between the right and the left. At some point Obama will need to alienate the right and push the agenda of those who voted for him; including working with Congress to push through legislation the right vehemently opposes. I haven't seen that yet, though I suspect the Sotomayor hearings may be the turning point when the administration finally tacks to the left.

    On gay marriage, the right can easily tactically outmaneuver the president since support for gay marriage is growing among members of all parties, especially among younger voters. Imagine the 2012 Republican nominee running as the pro-gay marriage candidate! Stranger things have happened.

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    Kari, Check out what Hillary is doing for State Dept... giving them ALL their benefits, and getting around DOMA by basing it on other things... that would have been seen more positively.

    Bill R, They gays feel lied to. Obama was GREAT on the stump. He clearly articulated what we wanted to hear. And yet 250 soldiers have been tossed on his watch. A nasty, bigoted brief comes out of his DOJ. I agree that people should watch their tongue, but this is the internet....

    I'm surely not a one issue voter. But I'm not going to be a doe-eyed cheerleader for an administration that really hasn't done anything for me. And would argue that since I am not a federal employee, he hasn't done anything for me.

    And our agenda? Gone. They want to move on DPBO, but again, that's ONLY for federal workers. Why hasn't ENDA moved? Why hasn't the president halted the dismissal of gays in time of war (he could, easily, while waiting for congress to recind DADT).

    In a bigger way, however, all liberal/progressives should be worrying. Obama has picked up several of Bush's bad policies in the last few months... transparency, prisoner rights, moving the war to Afganistan... just because we elected him does not mean that we shouldn't be vigilant.

    And we should be able to challenge our friends and family when they've left the reservation.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Kids and I peeled the "Hope" sticker off the back of the car and mailed it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We'll tune in again (and donate money) when the guy considers us each a full human member of the American family, and not 3/5's of a person when it comes to basic civil rights.

    Pretty remarkable b.s. from a guy whose own parents were prevented from marrying for similar prejudiced, and utterly unfounded religious reasons, until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned heinous anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.

    Will we ever learn? Will Obama? Will the DNC?

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    Well said pacnwjay, I would go further and say it doesn't mean we shouldn't be critical, in public, when warranted.

    Choices of how to be critical matter, as many have noted.

    Paul G., there is a difference between the question of "getting out front" of large congressional majorities on substance, and the specific character of the defense of DOMA that the DoJ has put forward.

    And I still would like to know where Pres Obama is on the legislation for domestic partners that's in Congress now.

    Jamais Vu, I consider the foreign policy much more mixed than you imply.

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    Let me ask again: how do we maintain pressure for progress on our issues, without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?

    Because any person who refuses to admit we have the strongest LGBT ally we've ever had in history sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now, simply isn't paying attention.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Let me ask again: how do we maintain pressure for progress on our issues, without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?

    Stop giving money to people who...

    1. Don't recognize us as full human beings (e.g., the DNC)
    2. Actively work to deny us basic civil protections (e.g., Catholic churches, Mormon temples, AME churches, etc...)

    Stop acting like doormats, and call public b.s. on bigotry - especially when it stares you in the face.

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    As a long-time queer activist, I'm uneasy about gay rights right now, but really feel the need to put the DOMA memo in perspective.

    It is the legal obligation of the Executive Branch to file briefs that are consistent with national law -- in this case, DOMA. The brief was filed as part of an effort to dismiss a federal lawsuit that has dubious legal grounding. It is extraordinarily rare for a Justice Department of any administration to fail to file or file a brief in opposition of federal law. Instead of attaching itself to a lawsuit that has little chance of success, the Obama Administration is doing, I believe, what it does best -- look at the big picture and skillfully strategize to achieve its goals.

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    Oregon Bill, the withdrawal of support from the upcoming DNC fundraiser is just a convenient vehicle for publicizing very legitimate anger over the language in the recent DOJ brief. But I hope you don't think the DNC and DOJ are the same - or even closely related - organizations? The DNC has a long, if sometimes plodding, history of supporting LGBT equality.

    Effective political action requires well chosen targets. If we want to have any real political effect, we need to continue working with - as well as calling out and withholding from, when appropriate - specific elected officials, from Obama to our local school board. Withholding funds from the Democratic National Committee as any type of long term strategy would be a shotgun approach. I think our community can develop more effective advocacy strategies than this.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Young people - even some young Republicans - now get it. Too bad Mr. Saintly "I Still Pander to Aging Christian Bigots" Obama and the "Send Us Your Money But Don't Expect Us to Have Any Balls" Democrats do not. Well, at least not yet!

    From the Daily Beast... http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-19/why-i-posed-against-prop-8/?cid=hp:mainpromo3

    The Daily Beast's Meghan McCain on being the newest poster girl for a celebrity photo campaign to overturn California's ban on gay marriage—and why more Republicans should follow her lead.

    I was so honored to be asked to pose for the NOH8 campaign. I am a proud member of the Republican Party and a proud supporter of marriage equality. I especially love the incorporation of the little elephant with his tusks duct-taped in the photograph. Marriage equality is not just a Democrat or Republican issue, it is a human one.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    (AP) The Department of Justice issued a brief in support of the federal Defense of Christian Marriage law (DOCM) today, comparing marriage between men and women of different races to unions between close relatives.

    In the brief, the DOJ declared it "a legitimate state interest" to prevent a "radical redefinition of marriage as an institution," one that "differs markedly from traditional cultural practices that date to Biblical times." The White House Press Secretary, when asked if this reflected the President's thoughts on the issue, replied that "It is the President's Department of Justice."

    In related news, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) expressed concern that many prominent interracial couples planned to boycott an upcoming fundraiser to celebrate equal civil rights for all Americans.

    Wait a minute???! That's not fair. Gays and lesbians aren't real people. I don't have to worry my little head about the utter failure of this administration to offer equal rights to them... Look, we're doing what we can here. Just chill out.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Effective political action requires well chosen targets.

    I thoroughly agree. I think people who issue prejudiced DOJ briefs in support of selective second class status for my family do not deserve my support.

  • Walter H. (unverified)
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    It's not giving up on Obama. It is that Obama is giving up on us. Here is the problem; if they wanted to argue for DOMA, they could argue just fine. They did NOT have to cite incest, child marriage, child rape, etc to try and drive their point home. I personally equate it to the Pace v. Alabama fight back in the 1800s. The arguments used to prevent blacks from marrying whites were reprehensible, just like Obama's DOJ fight for DOMA. I mean, read this:

    (These marriages contain) elements so heterogeneous that they must naturally cause discord, shame, disruption of family circles, and estrangement

    Let's see - is that Obama's DOJ or is that Pace v. Alabama? The above argument could be for either.

    Above all, Obama is remembered for his statement that the "buck stops with me" (at least on AIG). I am holding Obama responsible for this reprehensible argument. Yes, he made a little bit of ground back, but we have a long way to go before I fork over another $2,300 and hours of donation at the Obama HQ.

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    Obama did not say GLBTQ issues would be his top priority in office; the economy, esp health care (and energy issues) always have been his #1. the current meltdown has made that so much more important.

    in the short-term, and for the long-term, nothing matters more than fixing health care. nothing. if we don't get our current system repaired, everything else is moot. we are screwed. and the most important fix is the public option: no other change will bring cost-controls and open the system more than that.

    and no other aspect of the President's proposal is under more attach than the public option. the insurance and other industries currently making mega-profits off the illnesses of the American people have taken a blood oath to stop the public option and, to the extent they can, maintain the current system (yes, they are insane). this is going to be a battle like nothing any of us have ever witnessed, i think, because no other policy-related battle has meant so much, to so many people -- and Obama knows it. he's working to get ordinary Americans behind the cause, and it's vital he do so because the other side has money & lawyers & entrenched power.

    at the same time, there is no social issue of greater OMFG power than GLBTQ issues. if Obama were to try to end DADT, DOMA or take any of the other steps needed to end the unconscionable abuse of the civil rights of millions of Americans, all hell would bust loose. the worst part, i believe, is that it would not only distract from the battle to win a public option, it would pretty well decimate his effort to fix health care. and we need health care fixed this year. not next year, not by 2012; this year.

    the crude truth is that DOMA etc have to wait. it's wrong, it's ugly, but DC is a place where wrong & ugly rule. Obama's record is one of support GLBTQ people; his opposition to gay marriage is a personal one, not a legal one. if every state ended marriage inequality, he would be glad for it. i think in time he'll be convinced that the federal govt needs to take the lead (i see no reason to doubt that he'll support a move to end DOMA), but for now, that's a battle he can't get into. the moment he starts to act on the big issues regarding GLBTQ civil rights, that's when he kisses health care reform goodbye.

    look at the attacks on Sotomayor already. look at the forces lined up to stop health care change. real climate change legislation is being gutted. the change we voted for faces destruction on a daily basis in Congress. yes, the civil rights of GLBTQ Americans are not political options; it is, as i said, unconscionable that they have been limited. but taking those issues on directly right now would destroy everything else he is trying to do. the right wing would have a weapon to rally millions of Americans in a way their attacks on health care and Sotomayor never will.

    health care in 2009. end DOMA & DADT in early 2010. in that order.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    the crude truth is that DOMA etc have to wait.

    Yeah, but it didn't have to wait with that particular DOJ brief. Or with the continued firing of gay and lesbian Arabic linguists, and soldiers...

    I was ready to wait, but not to have my family linked to incest by a Democratic President.

    I just re-registered as an independent. My husband did so years ago.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    Obama is clearly a deft politician, which, coupled with real political courage, might make him a truly great President. I am still waiting to see the political courage part. andrewj54
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    Oregon Bill wrote: "I think people who issue prejudiced DOJ briefs in support of selective second class status for my family do not deserve my support."

    I agree. This is why I believe withholding support from the DNC is ineffective, for lack of relevant targeting.

    I remain hopeful the Obama Administration will find a way to publicly distance itself from the DOJ brief.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    ”Buckman Res: I think surveys have shown that it's not the AA community, rather age and religion that determines whether a person is against gay marriage or not. Upon further review in California, that is what was shown.”

    This from today’s LA Times article about gay marriage seems to refute your claim:

    African American voters were strongly against it, with 54% opposing same-sex marriage and 37% supporting it. Opposition to gay marriage by African Americans was widely seen as a major factor contributing to the passage of Proposition 8.

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    Buckman, partial Black support for banning gay marraige doesn't not take down a whole measure. Blacks are only about 8 percent in California. Even if 100% of them voted against gay marriage, it still wouldn't have taken it down. It's not statistically possible.

    Again, it was more determined by age and religion than race. If 60% of blacks voted against gay marraige, that means 40% of black voters supported it. That can't be denied at all and it's unfair not to recognize it.

    To encapsulate all Blacks with one sentence is bogus. It also dismisses the fact that there are Blacks who are also members of the GLBT community.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Bill R - why is it that the ones who have been victimized are expected ALWAYS to be somehow better than, faultlessly better than the ones lost in ignorance? While you will see me pushing back against the tirades in this topical vein, still.... heck! The words you used to describe (and you are not wrong, my friend!) actually are perfect mirrors to see into what has been PUT upon LGBTs till recent years!

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    Buckman Res: Please read this about the Prop 8 myths on Black voting -

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    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/prop-8-myths.html

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    Karol wrote: "To encapsulate all Blacks with one sentence is bogus. It also dismisses the fact that there are Blacks who are also members of the GLBT community."

    Apropos this point, I am suspicious - and reflexively dismissive - of arguments which attempt to set minority communities against one another. Clearly the Black and LGBT communities have work to do getting to better understand and respect one another. But there is no politically effective point in looking any direction but forward on this process, given the crossover membership and common interests of our communities.

    I appreciate Karol's willingness to represent her stake in both.

  • rw (unverified)
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    TGHat is not Obama's DOJ. That is THE DOJ, children. Unless he went in and did a Night of the Long Knives and I did not hear about it? Did he fire everyone and replace them all and it slipped my notice?

    Again: you cannot have it all six ways! You shake your heads in wise jaundice and mutter about how Presidents are figureheads, and the real ship of state chugs on undisturbed in the personages of those agencies a President purports to "run". But if the legacy ship continues on about its business and does not pull an abrupt about-face upon election day's close, you are now ready to squall against that useless figurehead office!

    I concur with Kristin, but also see Leo's point that we must partner up here in our job of continuing to effect dialog, engagement and some amount of tactical threat aimed in the right direction!

  • rw (unverified)
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    You know, Karol, I am struck by something. The soft passion you have caught in the interstices here is EXACTLY what forces the hand of the lack of will within ALL to make peaceful connection. Very interesting. I feel your heart on this one.

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    Thanks, RW. My heart is all over this one.

  • Anthony Serrano (unverified)
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    "Not only has Obama done more than any other president, he's done more faster for GLBTs."

    Done more? He's done next to nothing. All he's done is issue a memo (which expires with his presidency) requiring federal agencies to extend some minor benefits (and most certainly not the most important ones) to domestic partners of federal employees; benefits that they already had the option of bestowing upon domestic partners. All he did was change a "may" to a "must".

    And even that only happened because of the outcry over the absolutely repugnant DOMA brief, filled with almost every right-wing taking point and dog whistle on the topic (incest, pedophilia, cost savings, biblical origin, etc.), none of which has been repudiated by Obama or his staff, when all they needed to argue was that the plaintiff didn't have standing (which they very clearly didn't). "Fierce advocates" don't let their underlings talk about their friends like that.

    It's just a sop, a token gesture meant to appease us that falls far short of what Hillary Clinton did for State Department employees much sooner and without pressure (and without fanfare). It does nothing to outweigh the harm that DOMA brief did.

    And now that it's been revealed that Obama refused to work with a group of lawyers who wanted to see if there was a way to extend all federal employee benefits to domestic partners despite DOMA, it is painfully clear that this pissant little gesture is merely about trying to appease us, not about any belief in our worth as people or interest in our civil rights.

    Before Clinton signed DADT, gays were barred from military service completely; afterwards, military service was at least a possibility for gays. It may pale in comparison to Truman's forcibly integrating the army, but it sure beats the paltry nothing that Obama has given us.

    Yes, DADT is a sorry compromise that reflects the political climate of the time. In an era in which even a majority of Republicans supports gays serving openly in the military, Obama has no excuse for not having already done what Clinton should have done 16 years ago.

    Obama is all words and no action. Sure, he'll write a letter to a discharged gay soldier, but he won't exercise the powers granted to him by 10 USC 12305 to block DADT-based discharges.

    He'll talk about how he dislikes DADT, but then he'll pass the buck for getting it repealed to congress (while refusing to get the ball rolling) - a congress that, incidentally, passes the buck back to Obama.

    He'll claim he's against DOMA, but then allow his DoJ to file a vile, hateful brief in favor of it.

    He's broken his pledge to put bills up for comment for 5 days before signing them.

    He mocked McCain for suggesting a permanent US presence in Iraq, but his withdrawal plan leaves a permanent US presence in Iraq.

    His "plan" for shutting down Guantanamo Bay involves merely shipping detainees elsewhere rather than, say, trying them.

    He claims to support government transparency, but continues to hide embarrassing documents behind claims of "national security".

    He claims that we are a "nation of laws", but refuses to prosecute the masterminds or perpetrators of torture.

    He praises the constitution and the rights it grants, but supports indefinite preventive detention.

    He claims to want every American to have health insurance, but his poorly-thought-out health care plan will fail to do that.

    He's a demagogue; he doesn't care about civil rights, or human rights, or justice, or truth, or responsibility, or doing what is right - he cares only about getting elected, and he has the charisma to get people to believe him even as his actions betray him.

    If only I'd believed the naysayers before I voted for him...

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    I remain hopeful the Obama Administration will find a way to publicly distance itself from the DOJ brief.

    So why nothing...but silence?

    And WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: "This is the President's Department of Justice."

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    Kristin (& rw),

    There is a difference between "very rare" and an obligatory duty.

    But I still would like to know what you think about the question I posed to Paul Gronke -- Let us suppose that the DoJ filed this brief not only out of duty, but because in their analysis the challenge to the law was weak legally (as Kristin posits). That could come in a weak version: that the DoJ thought the arguments unlikely to prevail given their interpretation of the law, which one could argue raises the presumptive duty to defend extant law. It could also come in a strong version: that the DoJ not only thought the arguments weak or legally wrong, but that they saw in them some principle that if accepted and applied by analogy could be destructive of other legal values that should be defended. I have no idea how the DoJ actually was thinking about those things.

    But, assume they chose to defend the law out of some combination of duty and believing the challenge weak and deserving of defeat on legal grounds.

    Do you defend the form in which that defense of DOMA was put forward, using many of the same most pernicious, vicious and false stereotypes and images used in bigoted arguments against same-sex marriage? Do you defend not just the fact of the brief but its forma and content?

    If not, should not President Obama direct the DoJ, or persuade Attorney General Holder to do so, to withdraw the orginal brief and file an amended one not based on false and bigoted analogies and stereotypes, arguments which if they are accepted as the basis of the court's decision will themselves entrench bad, destructive and bigoted law as precedent and be cited in the political defense of DOMA when the administration does move against it legislatively (giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on his promise)?

    It is not just the brief, and not even just the insulting and erroneous and grotesque and any number of other negative adjectives form and content of the brief.

    It is that said form and content provides ammunition for the political struggle to repeal DOMA when that struggle is engaged.

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    Kristin (& rw),

    There is a difference between "very rare" and an obligatory duty.

    But I still would like to know what you think about the question I posed to Paul Gronke -- Let us suppose that the DoJ filed this brief not only out of duty, but because in their analysis the challenge to the law was weak legally (as Kristin posits). That could come in a weak version: that the DoJ thought the arguments unlikely to prevail given their interpretation of the law, which one could argue raises the presumptive duty to defend extant law. It could also come in a strong version: that the DoJ not only thought the arguments weak or legally wrong, but that they saw in them some principle that if accepted and applied by analogy could be destructive of other legal values that should be defended. I have no idea how the DoJ actually was thinking about those things.

    But, assume they chose to defend the law out of some combination of duty and believing the challenge weak and deserving of defeat on legal grounds.

    Do you defend the form in which that defense of DOMA was put forward, using many of the same most pernicious, vicious and false stereotypes and images used in bigoted arguments against same-sex marriage? Do you defend not just the fact of the brief but its forma and content?

    If not, should not President Obama direct the DoJ, or persuade Attorney General Holder to do so, to withdraw the orginal brief and file an amended one not based on false and bigoted analogies and stereotypes, arguments which if they are accepted as the basis of the court's decision will themselves entrench bad, destructive and bigoted law as precedent and be cited in the political defense of DOMA when the administration does move against it legislatively (giving Obama the benefit of the doubt on his promise)?

    It is not just the brief, and not even just the insulting and erroneous and grotesque and any number of other negative adjectives form and content of the brief.

    It is that said form and content provides ammunition for the political struggle to repeal DOMA when that struggle is engaged.

  • Assegai Up Jacksey (unverified)
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    No doubt this is the first of many, "fill in the blank", don't give up on Obama yet. Truth is, we all should.

    My bellweather, lifelong Dem, still worships Hubert Humphrey, spits bile at my contention that there is no diff between the parties, this week gave up on Obama over the environment and his continuing to kidnap foreign nationals and deliver them to torture to our stooges. This month the green party in Europe ran on the best platform I've yet seen anywhere. You're in the same boat with the Republicans, but since they're more bloated, the skiff is tipped toward their end, keeping your feet dry, which you have mistaken as evidence that you're not sinking.

    Obama is a fraud. Today you chose your party politics over the GLBT community. Glad Kari likes what you do. Can't believe you have any credibility left with the readership. This might be interesting. I think Jeff will bail before 4 are up. That could be interesting. T.A. is trying to rationalize how the guard's situation on the ground hasn't been affected one iota by Obama's election. I think he'll choose sides based on the resolution to that. Meanwhile the blog will continue to highlight the Dem message of the day.

    Most the readership respect these writers. The conclusion will not be that they're naive or cognitively challenged, it will be that they are party hacks. I guess it's a lot easier demonstrating intellectual honesty when the other party is in power. I'd say it was disappointing, but progressives have been saying this was coming for two years. November was this board's high point. Now it's nadir time.

  • Assegai Up Jacksey (unverified)
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    This needs to be taken in context of what Kari said, defending Obama on single payer, that "he only said it on an early campaign stop", on another thread.

    A note of thanks to Kari for externalizing the hack mind, for us, and Karol provides a remarkable example. You see there's a point in the candidacy when statements become "record", but before that it's just...well, you can't hold them accountable for it. Unless it's unPC speech, and then you can keep tabs for as long as you like. Got it?

    It was still in the "just talking" phase when Obama proposed single payer. And an end to "don't ask don't tell". And going beyond Kyoto. And ending extraordinary rendition. And getting out of Iraq.

    That point is not fixed, and pols don't let you know it. Further, statements after "it counts", might be a reference to the ones that didn't. Bottom line: Obama's a good guy. Just trust him. Politics is over your head. Leave the operations to the hacks. You turn out and vote, but you then have to trust that they're implementing what you voted for. Can't trust the senses. Gotta keep your powder dry. He's forging consensus. Not worth the political capitol. He'll come good in the end. Just like Sam. He came good in the end.

    And if we want more, we can wait for puppy dogs and unicorns to fly out of Kari's ass. Or Karol's more user friendly approach. We can just wait.

  • James Hipps (unverified)
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    As a gay man, the managing editor of an online news source for the LGBT community, and a weekly host of a BlogTalkRadio show that deals exclusively with LGBT issues, this is EXACTLY my sentiment.

    There has been no President to date who has provided any type of "hope" for the LGBT community when it comes to gaining equality and inclusion. President Obama has done more for LGBT people in his first several months in office than all the other presidents combined.

    One thing so many fail to realize, he is everyone's president, and not everyone feels that the LGBT community should be equal.

    I would in no way try to equate the gay rights movement to the Civil Rights Movement, but I stand firm there are many similarities. I would also like to remind people of how many years it took for people of color to be afforded equality in this country...not to mention even with the advances made, there is still a great deal of racism in the U.S.

    Perhaps some feel President Obama hasn't done enough yet. Patience...this is NOT going to happen overnight and if you ever thought it was, unfortunately you were living in your own world of disillusion. Equality for the LGBT community is work in progress and we have several years of struggle left.

    To all those out there who feel the president hasn't done enough, I would ask them to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and ask; What have I done to contribute to the equality and inclusion of the LGBT community. Why is it we feel someone should just hand our liberties to us? Why do we feel it's the obligation of someone else?

    President Obama is one man. Maybe he hasn't lived up to some people's expectations, but again, I curious if those same people have lived up to their own?

  • Bill (unverified)
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    It seems disingenuous to criticize Clinton for signing DOMA, while at the same time excusing Obama for defending it, and while it's true that Obama "has never stopped saying that he'll work to repeal DOMA," it is also true that he has never actually started working on it. Members of his administration make vague noises about possibly getting around to that during his second term. Maybe we'll get around to supporting their party around the same time. Maybe not.

    Obama has thrown us a few tiny crumbs with a few symbolic gestures, but he and his party have done nothing to move us closer to full equality.

    We're sick of the Democrats' telling our community to sit down, shut up, and trust them. Trust has to be earned, and so far Obama, Reid, and Pelosi have done absolutely nothing to earn our trust. Every day that the Obama administration continues to defend DOMA, every day that the Democrat-controlled Congress fails to act on DOMA and DADT, their party continues to lose LGBT support, and rightly so. They can have all the cocktail parties they want with their house gays; the queers in the street are through supporting a party that won't acknowledge us as full citizens.

  • Roey Thorpe (unverified)
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    Oh, Anthony, that is exactly the kind of giving up on Obama that Karol is talking about and that I agree with her about. We all need to take a deep breath here. President Obama hasn't been in office even 6 months yet and is dealing with so many major issues. I personally am proud of him and I believe his promises to repeal DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell.

    Your list of disappointments just breaks my heart--not the things on the list, but that you're already making it. We expect perfection of our leaders, and we're so relentless in our criticism when they don't do everything that we, in our limited knowledge of their constraints, believe we would do in their shoes.

    Isn't there a difference between loyalty and blind loyalty? I certainly don't favor the latter, but sometimes it seems like we Progressives are afraid of the former. To be loyal, to give the benefit of the doubt, is not to be less thoughtful or passionate. It's a gesture of support, to my mind the exact thing that our leaders need to create a climate for courage. Because if they're damned if they do, damned if they don't, then why bother? This isn't just about presidents, by the way--it's about everyone from community leaders on up.

    I was at the inauguration and one of the most moving things for me about the experience was meeting all the older African American people who had come by bus from all across the country who said they just wanted to show up to show Obama that they were going to stand with him, and support him, and help him succeed. A lot of us could take a page out of that book.

    I love what Karol said about the distinction between not letting up on the pressure but not giving up on the man. That feels right to me, emotionally and strategically.

    Is Barack Obama perfect? Of course not. Will he make mistakes? Sure. But is there anyone who would make a better president? No, absolutely not, in my very strong opinion. I am so proud of him, so proud of all of us for electing him, and I believe so much that his heart, and his aim, are true.

    And one more thing--we in the LGBTQ community need to start seeing more than just LGBTQ equality as our issues, and to understand that there are, in fact, things that just might be more urgent than our civil rights struggle, critically important as that is. War, economic crisis, and flu epidemic are three things that could be on that list. I know saying that is close to heresy, but really, as a person whose career and life has been dedicated to the LGBTQ equality movement, I feel it needs to be said.

  • BlackRabbit (unverified)
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    You can't un-rile the internet once it's been riled. Fact remains, he may have done some things for the GLBT community, but certainly not enough things, and one would certainly not classify him as a "Fierce Advocate" for the minute steps he's sort of taken... Just because we want to like Obama, doesn't mean we have to apologize for him or be lenient with him.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Roey I appreciate you encouraging GLBT folks to remember that there are others who need THIER voice and energy as much as they need others'. I think it would be good, even, to identify oneself as GLB or T sometimes when speaking passionately (if one ever does speak of anything except one's own travails...) so as to announce to the world that GLBT are NOT emotionally stunted or otherwise narcissistically damaged goods capable only of screaming for their turn now, right now. And wailing about centuries of patience and now, right now. THe now right now cry is imperative, necessary. But also occassionally sounding out one's throwness as one speaks to other issues that are of passionate concern, especially when standing up for those NOT of one's identity group... this might be a powerful and broadening act.

    We are a choppy ocean. No one wavelet is getting much sustained focus. Popping up, then down then up again. Maybe if more of the chop pulled together we'd get some kinda wave...

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