Thursday, January 28, 2010

Barack's Tepid GLBT Tea


Your President and mine brewed and served up more of his watery version of civil rights last evening. His words on don't-ask-don't-tell were lukewarm. Combined with what he left out, he needs to show some guts and action to be credible.

The punchline is that he gave an I'll-try (Congress permitting) on DADT. Yawn.

Even during his campaign, I called for decisive and quick action on that abomination and insult to Americans in and out of service. That was something he could have done early. Even just by an order as commander-in-chief of the armed services, he could have could have stopped the irrational enforcement of the WWII-era legacy of anti-gay discrimination. The old officers, including retired sorts like Sen. John McCain, need to hear that it's time for them to shut up on this.

Moreover, if the Prez was committed to civil rights, he would have called for states to pass same-sex marriage legislation. He would have pushed to overturn Pres. Bill Clinton's disgrace, the Defense of Marriage Act. Certainly, Obama could have hugged his fundy fantasy of one-man/one-woman-only marriage rituals and hidden in that archaic belief of his particular church and preachers. By our laws, churches and clerics are allowed to be bigoted...in their buildings and in public speech.

If this President wants moral and legal stature, he has to prove it. He has failed so far.

Much was made of the related content tucked almost at the end of his state-of-the-union speech. To wit:
Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do.
Not only did he not mention SSM or DOMA, he only promised to work with Congress and our military on DADT. Yeah, Barack, that's played out real swell so far.

It's well past time for him to show some civil-rights leadership.

We can revisit another charismatic, rights phlegmatic President, John Kennedy. He also lacked the will to push civil rights. His VP, Lyndon Johnson, and AG, brother Bobby, did the heavy lifting and made those advances happen. Even if John Kennedy had lived, there's no reason to suppose he would have been more driven on rights than Obama has been.

We don't need to hear that our President has more important issues before him, that this is not the time to push GLBT rights in any form. This is not binary. It's not jobs or rights. It's not the economy or rights. Instead DADT and SSM/DOMA are part-time tasks.

What we need to see is commitment, compassion and understanding from the White House. We need to know he has courage and vision for Americans' rights. We need know he honestly believes, to use his words, "that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else. "

If he shows such real stuff, he has a huge bonus awaiting him. Inspiring Congress, even just the cowering Dems, to action on rights should prove to be just the catalyst progressives have been screaming for. Make them act, let them stand up for their constituents and all Americans. There's a huge political power there just waiting for such a spark.

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