Sunday, October 11, 2009

Carrying a Small Stick in Gay Rights Battles

The bully pulpit to Barack Obama seems to be a very quiet and gentle place indeed. In his campaign and after his election, he has promised much to the LBGT community...virtually all pending, pending, pending.

In his address to the Human Rights Campaign last evening, he promised again, he received ovations again and Americans are waiting again. Judge for yourself in watching his 25-minute speech on MSNBC here. Try hitting:
  • 5:27 — I"m here with a simple mesage. I'm here with you in that fight (for LGBT equality).
  • 6:20 — Many of you don't believe progress has come fast enough.
  • 8:28 — My commitment to you is unwavering even as we wrestle with these enormous problems (economy, war and more).
  • 9:15 — A relationship between two men or two women are just as real and admirable as between a man and a woman.
  • 13:25 — I will not waver in my commitment to ending discrimination in all its forms.
  • 14:40 — We are moving ahead on don't-ask-don't-tell. We shouldn't be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve their country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we're fighting two wars. We cannot afford to cut from our ranks people with the critical skills we need to fight, anymore than we can afford for our military's integrity to force those willing to do so into careers encumbered and compromised into having to live a lie. I'm working with the Pentagon, its leadership and the members of the House and Senate on ending this policy. Legislation has been introduced in the House to make this happen. I will end don't-ask-don't-tell. That's my commitment to you.
In the 15 years DADT has been in force, we have learned that the soldiers don't seem to care much about whether their buddies are gay or lesbians. Many of the older officers spew some cliché about undermining unit cohesiveness regardless. The President responsible for this sham, Bill Clinton, claimed to be gay supportive, yet foisted this compromise on the nation as well as the even worse Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The latter is more intractable. It requires considerable legislative and administrative work to reverse. In contrast DADT would be ineffective immediately, if Obama had the will. The legislation to which he refers would simply overturn a policy as interpreted in a defense appropriations act. Meanwhile, an executive order from the President would stop enforcement and effectively kill DADT.

I rather doubt Obama is not aware he is commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces. He can pull rank on DADT to get this in the works right now.

The Palm Center's plan to end DADT lays out the specifics of status and the way out. None of it is as difficult as Obama has made it. Instead, he is off dickering with generals. In military minds, he is showing weakness to subordinates, never wise.

Likewise on same-sex marriage, Obama is two-faced about that. He says firmly and repeatedly he's for equal treatment, yet he won't take that small step to supporting SSM. He will go as far as asking too nicely for the repeal of DOMA and for a domestic-partnership law at the national level. Those are well on the way to where someone who claims he supports full rights for gays should be headed. He needs more pushes to align rhetoric and reality.

Put me down on the not progressing fast enough side. He claims the bully pulpit, but he has to step up and speak up.

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2 comments:

Rick in Kansas said...

What was truly disturbing was that the crowd at the HRC dinner actually let him get away with this. He gave them pretty much the same song and dance he's been performing since begging for our votes in the Democratic primaries last year only this time while patting himself on the back for the limited place he's given us at the grown ups table and inviting us to the Easter Egg Roll. Instead of demanding answers, they insanely cheered as the stream of insults to their "relationships" (the word married was used only for opposite sex couples), their causes and their intelligence kept coming.

While there are those who say, well at least he's talking to us, so far to me it's been like trading a spouse who is physically abusive for one who is only psychologically abusive and reacting as if that was something of an improvement. Well, it isn't. We gave him the opportunity to mend some fences for his complete lack of real accomplishment, the continued Justice Department defense of DOMA and the unending stream of expulsions under DA/DT and the best he could muster is that he'll do better, maybe, someday, but not sure when. There was no offer to stop the expulsions from the armed forces until he asks Congress to get its act together, or even a hint at when he might even do that. No offer to at least reign in the DOJ on the DOMA challenges. And in the biggest and completely unforgivable insult by omission of the evening, not one word of denunciation of the referendums in Washington and Maine intending to strip the right of equality from same sex couples, not even as much of a word of encouragement to those whom that fight directly affects.

Given the speech he delivered last night, it's probably a good thing that the President chose not to speak to the equality march today and snuck out of town last night. If he were foolish enough to try that blow job on the crowd there, he would have pushed the crowd from peaceful protest to angry riot in very short order.

Tom Lang said...

What also sucks is that Obama had a great opportunity to speak out on behalf of Approve 71 for Washington State. Here it is about Domestic Partnerships with all the rights of marriage (so not the word). Isn't that what Obama says is his belief? So why the silence. I can tell you why. Because Gay Inc. ie HRC and many of the state equality groups/players such as Friedes, Rouse, Solomon etc. are focusing on Maine and the Reversal of Prop 8in California. That is I believe Washington was months ago forgotten or pre-empted in treillage for what would be accomplished this Fall. The poor LGBT of Washington State are made to fend for themselves, while sincerely believing and hoping that Gay Inc. has their best interests in mind. Washington is a very sad state of affairs...

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