In Other Words...
...let's not piss off the Stone Age Republicans.
Last Monday, President Obama assembled at the White House many prominent gay rights leaders as a way of capping off LGBT Pride Month. Early in his self-serving speech, a duck began quacking and it turned out to be a ring tone. The president adroitly and humorously worked his way around the interruption but the duck ring tone could've been seen as a perfectly-timed symbol of what a civil rights quack Obama has proven to be since he was still the junior senator from Illinois.
In his speech to LGBT leaders, Obama defended the Justice Department's despicable brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA) and said that also repealing DADT, one of the most evil rear-endings from the Clinton administration, would take time to responsibly repeal. This is what Obama said about the now-infamous DOMA brief:
"I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear."
Actually, he hasn't. The only thing he's made clear is his ongoing fear of incurring Republican wrath by repealing DADT with a stroke of a pen and of being painted by these civil rights Philistines as a fag-loving liberal. The plain fact is that just two weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid searched in vain for a co-sponsor for a bill that would repeal DADT and Reid openly lamented that it would have to be done administratively rather than legislatively. So, while it's easy to blame Republicans for being sticks in the mud regarding gay rights and every other progressive issue, the Democrats are being just as obstructionist, only in a less overt and more passive-aggressive way.
Therefore, when Obama said over two years ago, "While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us," he could've been speaking about his own party including himself and his own running mate.
The bottom line is that as far as gay rights go, Obama is at his most inarticulate and has yet to come up with a solid foundation for his opposition to same sex marriage, which cuts into the very heart of the gay rights movement. In signing the Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination bill, Obama was merely handing over benefits that were already available to gay federal employees and their partners. Plus, if one looks at the ENDA (or Employment Non-Discrimination Act) bill of 2007, one sees what a hollow shell and a joke it truly was. As the Human Rights Campaign said last February, ENDA does not
* Cover businesses with fewer than 15 employees
* Apply to religious organizations
* Apply to the uniformed members of the armed forces (the bill doesn’t affect the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy)
* Allow for quotas or preferential treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity
* Allow a "disparate impact" claim similar to the one available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore, an employer is not required to justify a neutral practice that may have a statistically disparate impact on individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
* Allow the imposition of affirmative action for a violation of ENDA
* Allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect statistics on sexual orientation or gender identity or compel employers to collect such statistics.
* Apply retroactively
Plus, it wasn't until moments ago that Rep. Barney Frank had introduced in the House Trans Inclusive rights to his new version of the ENDA bill, something it notoriously lacked (almost two years ago, Frank said such an amendment didn't have the votes). So anyone who thinks that gay rights, especially as regards same sex marriage and gays in the military, aren't still third rail issues had better check their facts.
In the second half of his speech on the 29th, Obama said,
Someday, I'm confident, we'll look back at this transition and ask why it generated such angst, but as Commander-in-Chief, in a time of war, I do have a responsibility to see that this change is administered in a practical way and a way that takes over the long term. That's why I've asked the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a plan for how to thoroughly implement a repeal.
I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.
Just two days later, Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic translator who'd "possess(ed) critical language skills and years of training and who (had) served this country well" became the first person fired from the New York National Guard for being gay.