Pam Spaulding

Sully: A 'sickeningly familiar feeling' Obama's team wants LGBTs and our issues to go away

Filed By Pam Spaulding | May 15, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Andrew Sullivan, Barack Obama, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay marriage, gay rights, marriage equality, President Obama

Yes, Andrew Sullivan, you hit the nail on the head this time. Emphasis mine:

And it's tedious to whine and jump up and down and complain when a wand isn't waved and everything is made right by the first candidate who really seemed to get it, who was even able to address black church congregations about homophobia. And obviously patience is necessary; and legislative work takes time; and there are real challenges on so many fronts, especially the economy and the legacy of war crimes and the permanently restive Iraqi and Afghan regions we are constantly in the process of liberating from themselves. No one expects a president to be grappling with all this early on, or, God help us, actually leading on civil rights. That's our job, not his.

But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada.

This administration is a welcome relief on many fronts from the danger presented by McCain/Palin, but he and his team have made it loud and clear that not only must we "be patient" but we are not to expect any support or comment from from this White House as equality blooms in legal landmark fashion around the country.

What would be welcome is a president willing to discuss our issues openly so they can be debated honestly. He's now silent. On purpose. Or worse, sending out his press secretary to fumble before the press corps with bullsh*t answers.

More below the fold.

You might recall an earlier post when I told you all that an LGBT reporter I know called the White House to ask for a statement about marriage equality passing in Vermont, the official word --

"No comment."

Yep, he's set his own trap with the absurd position that he has to now politically defend, even as his stance that civil unions are somehow equivalent to marriage keeps getting shot down as states and courts say otherwise. This administration is behind the curve now, and it's happy to be there and let us twist in the wind, and in Andrew Sullivan's case, confronting this situation:

I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

As with the discharge of service members under DADT on his watch, the President doesn't mind writing a note to a booted 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao to say "committed to changing our current policy" (but I'm dumping you anyway).

And that's while our nation's military continues to accept felons, gang-members and white supremacists because it can't fill its ranks. Obviously national security isn't a priority for this administration, or he'd at least talk about it.

As I posted earlier, it's not as though his hands are completely tied on DADT. He has chosen not to pursue tools at his disposal.

A new report released today, "How to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment," sponsored by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, clearly presents a way the President can stop the discriminatory discharge of gay and lesbian service members without Congress passing a law.

...1) Under the law "the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States" during a "period of national emergency." The statute specifically defines a "national emergency" as a time when "members of a reserve component are serving involuntarily on active duty."

2) Don't Ask, Don't Tell grants to the Defense Department authority to determine the process by which discharges will be carried out, saying they will proceed "under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense... in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulation."

3) Don't Ask, Don't Tell calls for the discharge of service members "if" a finding of homosexuality is made, but it does not require that such a finding ever be made. According to the study, these provisions mean that the Pentagon, not Congress, has the "authority to devise and implement the procedures under which those findings may be made."

It's ridiculous to hear straight fellow progressives try to make excuses for President Obama about this. No one in the LGBT community that I know is saying these issues are more important than the economy, or a host of issues that affect us all. The fact they cannot deny is that he's not only not doing anything, he doesn't want to even discuss the matter. Is that not problematic?

It costs no time or votes to slap down the obvious use of his "one man, one woman, leave it to the states" position by the fringe right to fundraise to try to roll back marriage equality. All we receive is silence, or rather, "No Comment."

Related:
* What's My Sex? What's My Gender? - And Other US Census Related LGBT Thoughts


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Angela Brightfeather | May 15, 2009 11:36 AM

Pam,

Your so right about this and it is so dissapointing to have to wait on some invisible timeline while people around us are still being hurt and existing regulations hamper or destroy their lives.

My one and only hope is that by June of next year, there is going to be some serious thought given to holding or even improving the Democratic margins in Congress and the real appealing to the bases of both parties will start to show up again as before the last election.

Everything that is being done now by this administration to create changes in the economy health care, the war, etc. are going to be riding on what the Congress looks like after November of 2010. If the Republicans can mount any kind of comeback at all, they will have to make the effort next year to organize and fight a total democratic takeover of Congress. If they succeed, it could mean the end of this present adminstration or any hope for a second term for Obama. I think this all points to the fact that next year is going to be crucial to keep and mobilize the base so that programs now being designed will be able to become realities. The deals for our issues in the GLBT Community were not cut and agreed to before the last election. But the issues did become just that; issues to be taken a stand on, which is what Obama did. The real deals are going to be made in 2010 and that is what we have to be preparing for now. Our frustration right now is that "no commnet" right now, seems like no one is remembering what was said in 2008 and GLBT people are still suffering unfairly.

Looking at it from Obama's point of view, I would be saying that I'm going to do something, lets talk about it in early to mide 2010, so that if we get a clear majority we can move quickly on things in 2011 and call it a mandate from the voters.

Any gravitas that we have after next November of 2010, will be evident when the right wing starts to use us again, as in the past, as the reason not to vote for Democrats. That is the time to make the deals with this administration.

It may not be right for those suffering now, but I just don't see it happening any other way and any pressure now may be noted and filed in the back of someone's mind, but it's not going to become crucial or pressing to their interests until next year. That does not mean we should not press or help to clarify our issues. But it does mean that any hope to resolve them this year is not based in political reality.

If Obama was to overturn DADT, sign Hate Crimes and ENDA into law tomorrow, I would be looking for a rainbow hallo to appear over his head within an hour after that. It would be a miracle.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 16, 2009 9:36 AM

The bitterness of this is that I am sure he does personally "get it" but is allowing himself to be managed. Enough with the logrolling, enact those provisions you ran on. You must live up to the expectations of the voters who elected you.

I made these comments in my May 1, 2009 column for Mom Guess What? Newspaper, one of 2 gay papers in Sacramento:

While certainly at this point in time, the Democrats are the best vehicle for glbt to progress and find protections we should not forget it is the Democrats in Congress who helped give us Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed in the middle of the night by Democrat Bill Clinton.

And it now the heavily controlled Democratic Congress that is dragging its feet about repealing DADT and DOMA under the guise the economic situation must be dealt with to the exclusion of glbt concerns.

Apparently Congress can’t multitask to deal with more than one problem at a time.

I remember a few years ago listening to our arch protagonist and chair of the Traditional Values Coalition, the Reverend Louis P. Sheldon, give his philosophy on governing that when you are the party in political power you can do whatever you want despite the objections of the minority party because, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles!”

Getting DOMA and DADT repealed should a relatively simple matter, if the Democratic leadership, which includes our San Francisco neighbor and supposed ally, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, had the real desire to do it.

They are the majority! Hold a couple hours of hearing in the morning in the proper committees, vote it out to floor before noon, vote on it on the floor in afternoon and send it to the Prez for his signature the next day.

And that according to Rev. Lou, when you are in power, “that is the way the cookie crumbles!” So Democrats you have the power, you do what you want!

The repeal of these two odious laws just might be a fitting reward to all of those faithful glbt Democrats and their allies who have stuck with the party despite being thrown under the bus more times than we can count.

I support Gay rights but I don't believe in encouraging anyone to fight in the wars in Iraq and Afganistan.