Obama on gay rights

Not one of his strong points, to put it mildly. Regular readers know that I’m an Obama fan. (I drank the lemonade. Or Kool-Aid. Or whatever the hell that stuff was. Absinthe?) But this record is not good, and not living up to his promises.

On taking office, Obama immediately announced that he was doing away with the Clinton-era concept of special assistants who served as liaisons to various communities like gays and Latinos. He then went ahead and appointed special liaisons to some of those communities anyway, but never to the gays. Around the same time, the White House Web site, once detailing half a page of presidential promises to the gay community, overnight saw those pledges shortened to three simple sentences. Gone were five of the eight previous commitments, including the promises to repeal both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA. Adding to a growing sense of angst, senior White House officials kept telling the media that they weren’t sure when, if ever, the president would follow through on his promises to the gay community. Then there were the Cabinet appointees. Three Latino nominees but nary a gay in sight. And finally, last week our president had his Department of Justice file a brief in defense of DOMA, a law he had once called “abhorrent.” In that brief, filed on the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia (which outlawed bans on interracial marriage), our own interracial Harvey Milk, not lacking a sense of historical irony, compared our love to incest and pedophilia.

As Aravosis notes,

Sixty-seven percent of Americans now favor granting same-sex couples the right to marry or join in civil unions. Sixty-nine percent support letting openly gay men and lesbian women serve in our military, including a majority of Republicans (58 percent), conservatives (58 percent), and even churchgoers (60 percent). And an overwhelming number of Americans have long since supported passing legislation banning job discrimination against gays.

It may be that Obama thinks he needn’t do anything, as progress on these issues is now inevitable. But in the meantime, people are suffering and rights are being denied.

4 thoughts on “Obama on gay rights

  1. There’s an article in today’s NY Times that says Obama is once again saying he’ll fight to repeal DOMA; there’s no word on how that could possibly fit in with last week’s support for it. I heard the same thing this morning on, I think, Democracy Now.

  2. Obama has been nothing short of a complete wash on gay rights. Does anyone really think that if he hasn’t done anything yet that he’ll push for repeal of DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the middle or end of his first term? Obama and the Dems with their dedicated and constant inaction will continue to ensure the second-class citizen status of LGBT folk for at least the next decade if not longer. Of course, no one should find this shocking given his campaign’s half-assed marriage rhetoric, religious-right pandering, and conflation of centrism with change.

  3. What’s unfortunate is that no matter who we chose for president, the LGBT community would probably still face the same type of political discrimination. McCain… well, he’s McCain. And, if Hilary was representing the Dems, then we could hardly expect anything from her. She’s flip-flopped back and forth from spouting full equality agreements to openly being for civil unions, not same-sex marriage (although she has supported laws that ban employment discrimination). But, American perspectives are obviously changing, and hopefully this will sway our new president into not settling for traditional views.

  4. Christina,

    I don’t understand why McCain or Hillary’s views need to be discussed on this important matter. I mean, why should Hillary be compared to Obama on this issue just to show that he isn’t worse than she? Isn’t Obama the president now?

    Jender,

    I am no Obama fan! :-) I will only say this, “I told you so!”

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