Guest Blogger

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Has The Promise Of Obama Been Broken For Now, Or Forever?

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 17, 2009 9:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

Editor's Note: Guest blogger David Badash is a regular contributor to Bilerico-DC. He is a writer and the founder of The New Civil Rights Movement, a blog focused on gay rights and gay marriage.

Part I: That Was Then

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

So many of us worked hard, fought hard, in our own ways. We gave our money. We gave our time. We gave what felt like our souls. All for building a dream, with peace and glory ahead. All because this honorable, poetic, honest, and at times, challenged man embodied our dreams of a better world, a new world.

We knew he could build a better America. We knew he could save us from Republican greed and dishonesty and bigotry and hate. We knew he could save us from Republican empire and class-building and warfare. He told us we were building a dream, and so we followed him. He knew how to use the tools of today to bring us a smarter, better, more human tomorrow. And he promised us something no one else ever had: inclusion.

He spoke to us. By name. He spoke to us as if we were (almost, at least) just as good as he was. We gave him everything we had. Some gave all they could just to ensure that - together - we would realize the promise of Obama.

But now, many are wondering if his were false promises. Many are seeing promises broken. And many are answering, NO to the question, 'Brother, can you spare a dime?'

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?"

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

We were all kids with drums. We all felt like kids. We all felt like children of the 60's. Standing together, singing in perfect harmony.

We had a dream. His dream. Our dream. We sang our dreams to each other through emails and phone calls and heard his name grow louder and louder. We were his army. Manning phone banks. Knocking on our neighbors' doors. Wearing his "Obama" and "Change" buttons on our khaki suits, our tee shirts, his bumper stickers on our cars, his magnets on our refrigerators.

We were his half a million - helll - we were his million-man army. He gave us the tools and we made them work. We made our own tools. We networked like crazy. We responded to all his emails. "Please, just $25."

We gave him our money. We built his railroad. We built his shining tower. And once it was done, once he was elected, we gave him time and space to do the nation's business, putting our needs, our hopes, on hold. And we stood in line, waiting for bread.

But then he took our hopes and threw them in our face. He ignored our dreams, our needs. And if that wasn't bad enough, last week he compared our relationships to those of marrying children and to incest. We have to wonder, why?

Why invoke incest and marrying children to defend DOMA, a law you claim you want to repeal, Mr. President? Why? Don't you remember us, and your promises to us? Weren't we buddies? Weren't we pals?

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Why don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,"

Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!
Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Part II: This Is Now

As another song goes, money makes the world go round. And in many respects it's true. But money, or withholding it, also makes people stand up and take notice.

The gay community is strong. And rich. Very rich. Look at our demographics. Gays are more likely (thanks to the establishment we fight against) to be single, childless, with a greater disposable income, and greater say over where we invest both time and money than our married, child-raising, heterosexual counterparts.

Make no mistake, many, a great many of us would like to be afforded the right to marry, many of us don't even have the right to raise children, and we're working for those rights, but as it stands now, stripped of that which defines many, marriage and families, we are in a sense a class of privilege: financial privilege.

And President Obama and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, would do well to remember that.

The President's gay agenda is all but invisible. Certainly, there is no actual plan to bring the gay community the rights we have fought for. So many are fighting back.

At the June 25th Democratic National Committee Fundraiser, several key gay Democrats will be conspicuous in their absence: award-winning gay blogger Andy Towle, and author, political strategist and civil rights activist David Mixner were the first to say no.

Now, Human Rights Campaign's National Field Director Marty Rouse and Executive Director of New York's Empire State Pride Agenda, Alan Van Capelle, as well as Clinton White House advisor Richard Socarides have joined in dropping out - in protest.

Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend is asking others to drop out in protest:

If you feel so inclined, please politely contact our out LGBT representatives on the Hill to ask them why they still plan to hold the event in the wake of lack of leadership re: DADT repeal and the horrible DOMA brief. And do they see anything problematic about financially supporting a party that runs for cover when our issues come up on the Hill.

But if withholding money from the DNC to highlight our power and remind people the importance of our cause isn't enough, perhaps this is: Forbes Magazine - that bastion of capitalism, the icon of industry - on Tuesday ran an article titled, "The $9.5 Billion Gay Marriage Windfall." They write, "If half of the same-sex couples got hitched, Forbes estimates that the industry would reap nearly $10 billion in additional revenue." And continue with,

There are 781,267 same-sex couples living together in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau's 2005-07 American Community Survey. The Williams Institute, a research arm of UCLA's law school, predicts that if gay marriage were legalized nationwide - only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Iowa and New Hampshire allow it now - about half of those couples would tie the knot within three years. Talk about a stimulus package.

Our lawmakers need to understand the following:

DOMA is unconstitutional. It violates not only our Constitution, but our principles of fairness and equality. And it is unacceptable.

DADT actually weakens our nation by putting at risk the tens of thousands of gays and lesbians serving in our military. Imagine trying to do a good job, putting your life and career on the line every day, only to go to sleep each night knowing tomorrow you could be fired just for being gay.

Imagine sending your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend off to war, not knowing if you'll ever see them again, and knowing if you never do, the knock on the door - the call in the dead of night - won't be on your door, won't even be a call to your phone. It is as if you never existed.

ENDA will protect millions and millions of gay and lesbian Americans who simply want to continue to do their jobs without harassment or fear of termination just because they are gay. That it is not yet law is unacceptable.

The gay community isn't the problem. We're the solution.

Enact Hate Crimes - NOW. Enact ENDA - NOW. Repeal DADT - NOW. Repeal DOMA - NOW.

Watch the economy strengthen. Watch families being formed. Watch families get stronger. Watch children being raised in loving households by two parents. And watch our military men and women grow even stronger and more secure.

Or don't.

And see what happens to the Obama Administration and to the Democratic Party. President Obama has the ability to change all of this.

We spent our political capital on him. He needs to spend his political capital on us.

Not later, not in a possible second term. But soon. NOW.

And, he needs to apologize. Or there may not be a second term, and that would be unfortunate, and a shame.

Because, despite his obvious blind spot for the gay community, I still believe Mr. Obama can be the greatest American president in decades.

We elected him for a reason. Because he is the right man for our time. But if he fails the gay community, it will be his fault. You break it, you own it.

His fault, but the results of that failure will be our burden.

We need to force his hand - he won't act if we don't act. We need to tell President Obama, his White House, the DNC, and the Democrats on the Hill - until they cast their vote for LGBTQ civil rights for a stronger nation, we can't spare a dime.

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bigolpoofter | June 18, 2009 12:36 PM

And enough of the LGBT apologists pleading for the angry masses to "just give him time!" It's difficult to take inside the Beltway folks serious when they say that legislation takes time to write. WTF have LGBT lobbyists and our Hill allies been doing for the last 25 years: sipping cocktails and looking fabulous, instead of having the bills ready to effin' roll when a fortutitous time appeared? And don't BS about getting the economy settled and health care reform passed first: this isn't a zero-sum game, and our national legislative process has always multi-tasked...not always effectively, but it's not like having multplie high-profile bills in play at one time is a novelty!

We gave and voted for change, and until now it's been simply more of the same. #Barackpuhleez

Kevin Erickson | June 18, 2009 1:25 PM

This is some nice writing, but you haven't identified just what promises have been broken.

I am also sick and tired of having to wait. I don't want to give him anymore time. I was in the Army waiting for him to come and save me. Yet he never came. I was discharged this April with homosexual conduct on my DD214 and guess how many job ask for that piece of paper? Everyone. If I don't get the job do I have to look at myself and say what did I do wrong? Or do I have to look at the paper and say well there is no law to protect me agains Homophobes. My wife is still in the Army serving our country (In Afghanistan) that we so love but she still has to watch how many letters she sends me or how many calls she makes to me. She has been investigated once since she has been there and it was not a fun thing to go through. How would you like to have to clean up blood soaked humvees and then get called in to ask for a sworn statement saying that you were not gay. Makes for a real great day!