Obama Promises, Then Punts, on LGBT Rights


Last week, pretty much every single blogger on the Internet
who focuses on LGBT rights posted a link to a website called Obama’s Plan For Gay Rights.  When you clicked the link, you saw a parody
of the Obama campaign logo that simply said, "There Isn’t One."  With that, years, or really decades of
culminated disappointment by LGBT activists and allies came to a silent, bitter
head.  The Democrats, the ostensible
allies of LGBT tax-paying citizens, have repeatedly chickened out and sold out
gay rights whenever flashed an opportunity to pander.  And we’re sick of it. 

It’s one thing to see cowardly Democrats take money and
support from gay activists and allies while moving like glaciers towards more
equality.  We don’t like it, but we
understand whenever a politician has to swear to be for equal rights in one
breath and then claim that civil unions are a suitable substitute for equal
marriage rights in the next.  Equal
marriage has a plurality of support in this country, but it’s not quite a
majority yet, and politicians, being the slimy crowd-pleasing cowards that they
are, can’t be expected not to weasel and hedge around the issue.  As long as liberal Democrats kept sending
signals that they’d support gay rights once wins were secured by activists, we
supporters of gay rights kept writing checks and figuring that’s the way the
game is played. 

Turns out that there’s a big gap, however, between passive
cowardly Democrats who don’t fight for or against gay rights and Democrats who
take cowardice to a whole new level.  The
Obama plan was to lay low and hope the gay rights issue goes away, or that’s
what it was until last week, when the Obama-led Department of Justice filed a
brief defending
the despicable Defense of Marriage Act
in vile, homophobic language,
invoking unscientific arguments comparing homosexuality to child abuse and
incest.  This, despite the fact that Obama
has repeatedly stated that he disagrees with DOMA.  The administration’s excuse is that they
have to support the laws as written, even if they disagree with them
, a
claim that’s being
publicly disputed
.  But even if the
Obama administration absolutely must defend the laws as written, it’s unlikely
that they need to resort to underhanded tactics based on right wing lies.  There is absolutely no excuse for that kind
of dishonesty. 

The outcry from gay rights groups has been loud and
dramatic.  The DNC has a fundraiser
hitting up LGBT groups planned for June 25th, and a number of big donors to the DNC are pulling out in protest. 
This includes Marty
Rouse
, the Human Rights Campaign’s National Field Director, despite the
HRC’s reputation of clinging to moderation even in the face of some pretty
grave insults to the dignity of LGBT people. 

People were already beginning to doubt the Obama
administration’s commitment to gay rights. 
Obama promised before and after the election that his administration
would repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a non-compromise offered by the Clinton
administration that supposedly allows gays to serve in the military if they
don’t come out and don’t get found out, which is to say it changed nothing at
all about the ban on gays in the military. 
But even though allowing gays in the military could be dealt with by an
executive order, just as desegregation was handled by Harry Truman in 1948,
Obama has decided to punt the issue to Congress, asking them to handle it with
a bill.  In turn, Congress punted it back
to the President, when Harry Reid asked
Obama to handle it "administratively"
.  It seems that Democrats who want LGBT money
still seem to think that touching gay rights will give them cooties.

The heavy pressure on Obama seemed to work late last week,
though, when the President signed a memo asking
for same-sex benefits for federal employees.
  At first, it felt like a victory, but intrepid
bloggers dug around and have concluded that this gesture is basically an empty
one.
So what gives?  What could Obama
and other supposedly pro-equality Democrats be thinking?

Looking to Obama’s strategy on the other toxic culture war
topic–reproductive rights–gives us something of a clue.  It’s clear now that the administration’s
investment in "common ground" is an attempt to defuse the issue by pretending
that the mushy middle that wants to have sex but judge others for it has the
moral high ground.  So we give the middle
what they want, which is basically a right to have birth control and abortion
for themselves but a lot of public hand-wringing over how someone else is a bad
girl for having an abortion.  The common
ground strategy has proven to be the sort of thing politicians dream about,
where they can have their cake and eat it too, and so of course the
administration is going to flail around trying to find a similar magic bullet
to defuse the gay rights issue.  But
instead of actually coming up with such a magic bullet, they’re flailing
around, punting the issue and hoping no one notices.  Or worse, pandering to the right and hoping
no one notices.

I suspect strongly that the results of the Prop 8 vote in
California loom larger than they should in the administration’s decision-making.  Since California voted for Obama but against
gay rights, the long-held Democratic hope/belief that there’s a huge population
of social conservatives that just need a little push to be Democrats has gotten
a huge boost.  Visions of a permanent Democratic
majority must dance in their head as they sleep at night.  All these swing voters need are a little
gay-bashing and slut-shaming and they’ll be loyal to the Democrats in flush
economic times and recessions, right? 
And let’s face it, feminists and gay rights activists aren’t going to
vote for Republicans any time soon, so they don’t have any leverage to use
against the Democrats, do they?

If I were the Obama adminstration, though, I wouldn’t be so
sure.  It’s not just that a lot of big
money people might decide that their gay dollars would be better spent
elsewhere.  In some places, it may even
be their votes.  Republicans might be all
gods, guns, and gays in the South and parts of the Midwest, but in places like
California, they’re discovering that a little social liberalism might pull some
of those gay dollars and votes their way. 
Why else would Meghan McCain, daughter of the last Republican nominee
for President, be posing for ads
supporting gay rights, while holding out an elephant?
  Democratic dominance in states like
California isn’t a given, and if the Republicans can argue that they’re just as
pro-gay in some states as the Democrats, they’re going to start seeing gay
rights money and votes moving their way. 

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  • brianh

    Sadly, this is the same treatment that pro-lifers get from the Stupid Party. They’re happy to say all the right things when it comes to donation time or voting time, but as for actually doing anything. Well, you can’t actually expect them to do that right?!
    I’m sorry you’ve been disappointed.

     

     

    A good rule of thumb is to terribly distrust every single person in a position of power. Only then can you very rarely be surprised by someone that actually says what they mean and means what they say.

  • amanda-marcotte

    They’ve done an excellent job of rolling back women’s rights.  Women’s relative income to men went down during the Bush administration, and the teenage pregnancy rate went up due to abstinence-only education.  True, women can still get away with having sex sometimes, but more and more women are punished for fornication than in the past.  You guys should be popping champagne—you scored direct hits against women’s collective well-being, and got more than empty rhetoric. That’s politics—you don’t get everything you want, but you can’t say the Republicans didn’t help out when it comes to the hurting women program.

  • progo35

    I am also disappointed over the fact that Obama and other Democrats seem to be using the gay community to get votes while ignoring legitimate concerns over rights issues. For instance, I can’t see how the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," (instituted by Bill Clinton, by the way) helps anyone, because it isn’t just about "keeping order." Any person who is found out risks automatically losing his or her job. And, while I think that the crux of the gay marriage/union issue is in the rights conferred by that relationship rather than the name, it is clear that people who have civil unions sometimes do not get the same rights as heterosexual married couples, even though they are supposed to under the law. But, this goes back to my contention that both the right and the left are hypocritical. In terms of gay rights, there was really no difference between McCain and Obama, so there was no reason for me to take that into account when I decided who to vote for.
    As for Meghan McCain’s commercial, this goes to what Marysia and I have been saying about being Progressive and pro life. Many pro lifers also support LGBT rights, as well as other liberal social positions.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    You know, editors of RH realitycheck, I notice that you have had more than one post by someone who implicitly advocates violence against pro lifers. Unless you take his post down right now, as you did with his other post, and report him to the authorities, you’re doing the same thing that you’ve accused some in the pro life movement of doing: encouraging or tolerating advocates of violence. By the way, I’ve never seen a major pro life organization have a discussion entertaining the thought that it might be okay to commit terrorist acts against abortion providers. Ever. Yes, there are similar "pro life" websites maintained by similarly ‘out there’ individuals, but if you don’t take this man’s post down right now, you are hypocrites.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • brady-swenson

    We have deleted every post that links to the “OperationCounterstrike” blog and I just deleted this one. I have just blocked posting access for the email address used to post these comments. I have emailed this person at the email address used to post comments and explained the reason for the ban. We absolutely condemn the violence that this blog advocates and will do our best to keep posts linking back to this blog off of our site. Because we allow anonymous commenting, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, it is more difficult to keep unwanted commenters away. If you, or any reader, sees a comment linking to this blog please use the ‘report comment’ link to notify me and I will delete and deal with the comment right away.

    Thanks.

  • colleen

    Progo,

    Perhaps you’re hallucinating. I see no comment here from operation counterstrike.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • brady-swenson

    There was a comment from “OperationCounterstrike” but I deleted it… you left this comment before I had posted my explanation above, hence the confusion.

    Thanks.

  • progo35

    Thank you, Brady. Colleen-the reason you do not see it is becauise Brady deleted it, so stop being condescending.  

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    So, is this your fault, pro choicers?:
    http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_19751.php

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • jodi-jacobson

    You can find any number of fake sites you can dig up, but a) no it is not the fault of pro-choice groups because they do not create such sites and these are almost certainly being created by others who want to try to confuse the issue, and b) there is no actual, established, membership organization or group within the pro-choice community using the words “murderer,” “terrorist,” or other such phrases to describe health providers not providing services or to describe the members of the pro-life side. On the other hand, there are any number of groups within the pro-life community who do fit that standard.

    There is a difference between an individual acting alone, wherever they are or come from and however insane they may be, and the history of a community of groups and individuals who use words of violence leading to the incitement of and support of violence on others.

    As you well know, there were in fact members of the anti-choice community who not only came out in support of the murder of Dr. Tiller, but also used indirect language in “condemning it.”

    There is a profound difference here. One is institutionally supported, the other has no link whatsoever to any organization in the pro-choice community.

    We don’t confuse the two and don’t believe others do either, unless their agenda is to deflect attention from the real issue.

    Jodi

  • progo35

    Well, gee, it seems to me that the man does have links to the pro choice community. He’s written on this site, and according to the article above, he has family members in the pro choice community. If Tiller’s murder is the fault of pro life rhetoric, I feel it’s only fair to hold pro choice rhetoric to the same standard. So, please don’t fool yourself by erecting a double standard, Jodi. Just be honest and condemn this man and move on, friend, or else, as I said, you are a hypocrite. If, of course, you are willing to concede that murder is the fault of the person pulling the trigger, than neither community is at fault for the atrocities that may be committed in its name.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    The site I posted came from CounterStrike’s website, so if it’s fake, he made it up, not me. And, it’s not fake.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    You can trot out all these bogus websites you want, but you have NO case until and unless somebody blows Randall Terry’s head off.

    Which isn’t going to happen because pro-choice folks do not use the terrorist model.

  • progo35

     Which is exactly my point, Catseye. If that ever happens, I guess it would be okay for pro lifers to blame RH reality check and other pro choicers at large. It’s only fair. 

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    If that ever happens, I guess it would be okay for pro lifers to blame RH reality check and other pro choicers at large. It’s only fair.

    Um, no. The fact that you think this is a sensible position shows that you don’t understand how the rhetoric of pro-life advocates gave encouragement and currency to self-styled vigilantes like Roeder. Even if someone did blow away Randall Terry, the pro-choice movement would by no means be complicit, because the pro-choice movement does not engage in rhetoric that tacitly endorses vigilante action. If that were to happen, we can assert that we never advocated this action, without being disingenuous.

    You may find this person or that person who is pro-choice and advocates violence, or even just insinuates this, but that is simply not how the mainstream movement operates. It has never been so, and as Brady Swenson’s deletions have illustrated, we are on guard against it.

  • progo35

    "Even if someone did blow away Randall Terry, the pro-choice movement
    would by no means be complicit, because the pro-choice movement does
    not engage in rhetoric that tacitly endorses vigilante action. If that
    were to happen, we can assert that we never advocated this action, without being disingenuous."

     

    LOL. All I’m saying is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Do you think that calling pro lifers viscious misogynists who hate women and are responsible for Tiller’s death couldn’t incite violence just as much as whatever Randall Terry said about Tiller could? Then, you are profoundly naive, my friend. I am not saying that the pro choice movement is responsible for what operationcounterstrike has done in advocating violence. But, I am not saying that Operation Rescue is responible for Tiller’s murder, either. Keep in mind that Roeder never actually wrote anything like, "I’m going to kill Dr. Tiller" on OP’s website. If he had, they would have taken that down, too.  The mainstream pro life movement does not encourage violence, either, but you have no problem twisting facts to present it as such. So, excuse me for feeling that you ought to be held to the same false, stupid standard. 

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    LOL. All I’m saying is that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    If the pro-choice movement were to use the same sort of inciteful, vilifying rhetoric as pro-life advocates have for decades.

    Do you think that calling pro lifers viscious misogynists who hate women and are responsible for Tiller’s death couldn’t incite violence just as much as whatever Randall Terry said about Tiller could? Then, you are profoundly naive, my friend.

    Pro-life advocates focused on Dr. Tiller as a “baby killer” and “murderer” for nearly two decades, with on-site harassment campaigns and literature noting his appearance and home address. If you think that anything pro-choicers have done comes even close to the level of endangerment that was directed at Dr. Tiller, then you are feeding a persecution complex.

    The mainstream pro life movement does not encourage violence, either, but you have no problem twisting facts to present it as such.

    There’s a difference between twisting facts, and reading between the lines. The political cartoon I linked said it all.

    So, excuse me for feeling that you ought to be held to the same false, stupid standard.

    Feel whatever you like. You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own reality.

  • http://NOToperationcounterstrike.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Maybe the PURPOSE of the OC blog is to stimulate exactly the kind of exchange which took place above. OC is obviously not real. And why is it so obvious? Because right-to-lifers terrorize and pro-choicers don’t. Oh yeah!

  • brianh

    Women’s relative income to men went down during the Bush administration

    That’s not something I would want so yet another reason to hate the Stupid Party?

    teenage pregnancy rate went up due to abstinence-only education

    Then how does that explain the UK’s pregnancy rate’s going up with intense contraceptives and comprehensive education?

     

    more and more women are punished for fornication

     

    How are they being punished?  How are people getting away with punishing for fornication?!  What are they doing?

    when it comes to hurting the women program.

     

    Well since I’m not actually out to "get women" I would be upset if women were being hurt.  I’m merely out to protect women (and men) who are in their Mother’s wombs.  That’s it.  I’m not out to get women, I’m not burrowing holes under people’s houses, I’m not busting down bedroom door’s saying, "Stop doing that!"

     

    Nobody is in fact doing those things.

  • colleen

    so stop being condescending.  

     

     

     Believe me, I was exercising considerable restraint. Your manipulations, intent and pathetic need for attention were/are so childish and obvious.

    My best guess is that ‘operation counterstrike’ is the brainchild of someone attempting to a ‘lila Rose’ style entrapment. I’ve noticed at least one person who always posts anonymously and has been sporatically trying to gin up some violence at least since the ’08 election season when he/she was batshit crazy enough to try to whip up some enthusiasm for the project of kidnapping Bristol Palin and taking her somewhere (?) to obtain  an abortion. The fact that the anti-abortion movement believes their own grotesque stereotypes and demonizations about us makes identifying you folks as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

     I’ve even played with the notion that that person is you if only because when he/she was posting here he/she was insisting that further violence was the answer because he/she was fighing for her life. You have often made this completely irrational ‘argument’ in your defense of forced birth and gestation.

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • amanda-marcotte

    Look, I’ve read the handbook.  I’m not going to argue with you, because I have zero reason to believe that it will be in good faith on your part.  Sorry.  Perhaps, if you want that, you should work towards getting the anti-choice movement to abandon its commitment to deception as its main argument tactic.

  • progo35

    Uh…often? I would like you to post one thing I said in which I accused pro choicers of terrorist violence. Wouldn’t it be great for you if I was making it up, and Lila Rose wasn’t catching PP in something it did? It would, but we’re not.  

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    “…civil unions are a suitable substitute for equal marriage rights in the next.” Amanda, I certainly respect what you’re shooting for, but I just want to give you something to think about regarding marriage. I am for civil unions for ALL people and oppose marriage for ALL people. When the issue of gay marriage comes up in my state I’ll vote against it, not because I think gay men and women don’t deserve equal rights, but because I oppose legal marriage for everyone. In fact, I wouldn’t wish legal marriage on my own worst enemies, let alone good people who simply want equal protection under the law. I’m not sure many people REALLY understand WHAT marriage is. Of course there are tax, insurance, property rights, etc. benefits that you get with marriage. However, all of these types of benefits could be gained through a civil union. When you come right down to it legal marriage is mostly a welfare program. It’s a contract between you, your partner, and the STATE which obligates the higher-earning (or only earning) partner to pay for their partner should the marriage dissolve. Marriage is a lot like communism – resources are pooled together for the “greater good”. However, in most marriages, like most communes, one person invariably does more and more of the work while the other does less and less. Not surprisingly this leads to a great deal of bitterness and resentment and destroys the relationship. This has so much devastating weight in a marriage that nothing else really matters. Note that the divorce rate is about 50% in America. Amanda, this does not nearly give you any indication of how bad the institution of legal marriage really is. Many millions of working people are simply stuck, slaves to their spouses, in their marriage because the prospect of divorce is financially devastating to them (the ball and chain is real). Civil unions are the way to go Amanda. Hope this helps.

  • jayn

    That is the most pessimistic view of marriage I’ve ever heard.  And those problems have nothing to do with the institution of marriage itself, but the relationships that people build between each other.  Personally, I think the Catholic Church has the right idea with marriage, in having couples attend counselling before the wedding to learn to communicate with each other better.  I can’t help but wonder how many problems could be solved (or avoided) if couples were encouraged to talk to each other more, especially before taking such a huge step as marriage.  Some couples really should get divorced–some shouldn’t get married in the first place.

     

    A large part of the social divide on gay marriage is semantics.  If gays get the right to marry, then we’re destroying the institution of marriage.  If we abolish marriage as a legal term, same thing.  Those of us not on the far right on this issue really can’t win, largely because some people can’t divorce (no pun intended) the concepts of legal marriage and religious marriage in their heads.

  • invalid-0

    That’s the most naive view of marriage I’ve ever heard. If you think counseling before a marriage is going to help this situation you’re kidding yourself. The “legality” of marriage and the role of the state is WAY beyond anyone’s thoughts when they’re getting married. A priest will talk to you about love, committment, Jesus, etc, which is utterly meaningless in “legal” marriage. He will not tell you you’re legally obligated to take care of your partner so the state won’t have to.

    Again, to the GLBT community, why would you want to bother with this legal entanglement? Civil Unions are the way to go. It’s a slam dunk.

  • jayn

    "The "legality" of marriage and the role of the state is WAY beyond anyone’s thoughts when they’re getting married."

     

    Yup, and this is part of the problem with this argument.  The difference between marriage as a religious institution and marriage as a legal institution doesn’t occur to people, and unless/until we can get past that block, it’s pretty much lose-lose for the gay community.  People aren’t willing to get rid of the legal part of marriage, but they aren’t willing to extend that to same-sex couples either, all because of their religious views on marriage.

     

    And if you think I’m naive–well, maybe I am.  But I do know that relationships are based on communication, and I think that’s often overlooked in our society.

  • invalid-0

    I’m sure there’s much we agree on Jayn. Marriage USED to be a religious institution. The Church pushed legal marriage on the states long ago. Marriage is NOW a STATE institution. There is really no reason for the states to block same-sex marriages. This is a no-brainer for anyone who believes in “equality”. If the Church is upset about this it only has itself to blame.
    At the beginning of a marriage everyone thinks they’ll be able to communicate their way out of marital problems. It’s just not that easy. Regardless, at some point couples may just grow apart, have different interests, or even simply hate each other. The question is shouldn’t the people in this relationship be able to move on without legal and financial entanglements? This is where civil unions and legal marriage differ. If someone is a gold-digger by all means they should embrace legal marriage. Anyone who has to or plans to work would be better off under a civil union arrangement. I’m hoping the LGBT community would at least try to understand this issue before diving into the legal marriage pool.

  • invalid-0

    I’m hoping the LGBT community would at least try to understand this issue before diving into the legal marriage pool.

    Believe me, many in the LGBT community understand the downsides of marriage. In the end, what it comes down to is equality, for better or for worse. (Why do you think they’re so gung-ho about getting the military’s DADT policy repealed? That’s practically a free get-out-of-the-draft card, and they’re ripping it up!)

    Marriage can be critiqued on a number of fronts, but the same-sex marriage movement is ultimately not about saying that marriage is good, but that gay citizens should have the same rights as straights—including the right to marry someone in conformance with one’s sexual orientation.

    (Heck, equality could just as well be achieved by abolishing civil marriage altogether, but realistically, that would be opposed far more than same-sex marriage ever has been.)

  • invalid-0

    “…Heck, equality could just as well be achieved by abolishing civil marriage altogether…” That’s exactly what I want – abolish legal marriage. At the same time create civil unions for everyone. This is a win for everyone except golddiggers. I absolutely don’t agree abolishing civil marriage would be opposed. First of all, you are “misunderestimating” (brief moment of levity) the strife in the married world. Most married people would vote for this! Second, this would be a great chance for the Church to take marriage back and do what they want with it. Third, we would all be “equal” in our civil unions. This would easily pass in every state in the nation.

    As for wanting equality, “better or worse”… exactly what is the “better” part of marriage that you can’t get out of a civil union? You’re right. I don’t get it.

    BTW Marriage, although far from dead, is crumbling anyway. Ask yourself why fewer and fewer men are proposing. Ask yourself why Angela Merkel proposed temporary marriages in Germany. Ask yourself why Oprah won’t marry.

  • invalid-0

    The reason Obama does not support LGBT rights is that he is a Muslim and under sharia such things are haram.

    I thought that was obvious….