While the federal Proposition 8 lawsuit continues its battle in federal court, leaders in the LGBT community are casting a suspicious eye on the White House, asking whether or not our 'fierce advocate' up there is going to come to our aide when thousands of same-sex couples in California most need him.
The argument that the Department of Justice used to defend their defense of DOMA in federal court was that they have a duty to defend federal law. Well, this may or may not be true--certainly, there is a lot of credible evidence supporting that this would be correct protocol for any non-dictator President. However, Prop 8 is state law, not federal law--if the Department of Justice chose to file a brief in the case, they would be free to take whichever side they chose, and certainly take side against the law: as Bush's DOJ did on many occasions.
President Obama will, in all likeliness, not actually weigh in on this minefield, however.
EqCA is pushing a petition to pressure the President to file a brief against the discriminatory law, using the disappointing outcome of Question One in Maine as an enticement to get people to sign. Both propositions should be offensive to all Americans, but I'm not sure I feel comfortable with this bait and switch: talking about Maine to get folks to sign a petition for California? I'm all for repealing Prop 8, but I fail to see where Maine folks are directly benefiting from these measures, and I'm uncomfortable that it seems all these efforts seem to be milking disappointment over Question One's loss for Equality California's efforts. If this is about California, then please tell us about California.
Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California even took his message to the Huffington Post, once again opening with lots of platitudes about the devastated families in Maine to lead folks down the page to support a bunch of California-only measures. Certainly, however, after the Maine-heavy introduction, the focus of this piece is much more tastefully on California than the petition webpage had been.
Kors' message that the President ought to file a brief in support of the suit against Proposition 8, however, is a viable assertion. Kors makes some incredibly valid points about how government entities have often stepped in and did the right thing when voters get caught up in a frenzy and try to pass less than fair laws:
"For instance, the courts stepped in when California voters tried to repeal protections against housing discrimination based on race and tried to strip the children of undocumented workers of health care and education. The courts stepped in when Colorado voters tried to repeal protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and prevent the legislature from enacting laws in the future to protect gay people.
Why? Because the majority does not have the right under the United States Constitution to overturn laws providing equality to a protected minority group and deny the legislative and judicial branches their right -- and obligation -- to enact such laws. Period. End of story."
The Administration is free to buck the status quo, here, and actually make a bold stand for equality by openly condemning Proposition 8 in court. This could be dangerous for a reelection, certainly, as the President would definitely need to carry California in the future to maintain the White House. However, I hope the President takes the risk and takes a stand. So many LGBT people are counting on him to follow through and be a different, gutsy politician, as he promised us he would be.
I also think that taking such a stand would force vocal critics like the boys at Americablog to go find someone else to pick on, like maybe the "blue dog" democrats.