Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Will the Obama White House step up?

Andrew Sullivan writes a strong piece in The Fierce Urgency of Whenever.
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. We're firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won't recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they're, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There's a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

I can't say I'm surprised. Disappointed, yes, but we knew it was coming, didn't we? We even knew it was coming when the Pro-Prop8 forces used Obama's voice, with only a very tepid response.

Washington politics is a lot like the end of Animal Farm. Everyone gets corrupted there. "No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."


Cany said...

Forgive me, IT, but 40% of our population (gay and straight) that need health care and don't have it. They cannot see a medical physician or a dentist.

I am one of those. I am a cancer survivor.

I will deal with doma and dadt and all that when health care is taken care of.

Obama inherited a huge bag of crap. He is going through it piece by piece. The big pieces first. Health care, if you have been paying attention, is on the guillotine. That is what I am personally working on right now.

That is just a political reality, IT.

I know this is your heart and soul issue, but it is NOT on the minds of 80% of America right now.... thus the delay.

I hope you can wait! We are all with you, but you have to let the herd pass through first... ain't gonna happen any sooner.

IT said...

Yes, Cany, I get that. I agree that's a big and important (even more important ) issue.

And Sullivan's article isn't completely unfair to the administration.
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.

Still his point is, "Wait your turn" is what the GLBT community has been told all the way along.

The fact is there will ALWAYS be serious problems more important than the GLBT community. And we will be holding the door open till long after I'm dead. That's what the Clintons told us too. As Sullivan further notes,

In the end, of course, the Clintons enacted a slew of brutally anti-gay measures - passing DOMA, doubling the rate of gay discharges from the military, signing the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants - and expected standing ovations as pioneers of civil rights.
Yeah, so we're a little gunshy. The Dems love our lavendar dollars, but they really would prefer us not to be around after they win.

Sullivan also points out that the HIV entry ban was legistlatively reversed by majorities of both parties over a year ago. But its implementation....nothing has happened. C'mon. That one's easy.

Thne White House web page removed its stated plan to repeal DADT and other issues.

When they came into office, the White House Civil Rights page made numerous promises:
Including sexual orientation in America's already-existing Hate Crimes law.
Passing ENDA.
supporting Civil Unions and explicitly repealing DOMA.
Opposing any constitutional amendment on marriage.
Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Expanding Adoption Rights to include gay parents.
Promoting AIDS Prevention.
Empowering women to prevent HIV/AIDS.

But last week they CHANGED it to only three
Passing ENDA.
Supporting Civil Unions, but no longer a mention of repealing DOMA.
Opposing the constitutional amendment.

After a protest by the community, they changed it back, sort of. But now instead of "repealing" DADT they just want to "Change" it.

We have been down this road before. I think we're allowed to be concerned that Obama's commitment to GLBT rights is shallow.