Friday, July 2, 2010

Obama MIA?

Following up on my post of Monday, Richard Soccarides in the Wall Street Journal: (behind a firewall, so check out selections at Pam's House Blend)
Another of Mr. Obama's core campaign promises was that he would put an end to workplace discrimination, a key issue for gay Americans. To date, White House efforts to pass federal employment nondiscrimination legislation (known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) have been virtually nonexistent. The administration sent the acting chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to testify in support of the bill at a House hearing and called it a major accomplishment.

AmericaBlogGay provides more quotes;
Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice not only have chosen to aggressively defend the constitutionality of that law [DOMA], which bars recognition of same-sex marriages, but Justice Department lawyers actually cite it affirmatively to deny federal employee benefits like health insurance to same-sex couples. Where is the Civil Rights Division, which Mr. Holder has called the "crown jewel" of his department?

The absence of a position from the Justice Department in favor of expanding civil rights is as shocking as the absence of a coherent White House policy on gay issues. There is no senior policy person at the White House whose primary responsibility is gay rights. And there is no gay person in Mr. Obama's inner circle of advisers. That matters when trying to get attention for issues in an already overcrowded agenda, and the result is obvious.

And the sad thing is some of the strongest voices for marriage equality, from Ted Olson on down, are conservatives.

Mr. Obama entered office with greater immediate challenges confronting him than most. But after eight years of benign neglect (at best) from Washington, and a campaign in which Mr. Obama promised to be our champion, gay Americans had good reason to expect more from this president, and now are understandably frustrated.

In a telling development, the most significant and aggressive legal effort to promote gay equality today is being led by a conservative, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson. In federal court in San Francisco, together with co-counsel David Boies, he is prosecuting the most comprehensive and sophisticated legal attack on antigay marriage laws in history.

Update from The Advocate:
In a wide-ranging interview with LGBT journalists and bloggers Thursday, White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said President Barack Obama had chosen to take steps at the agency level to eliminate inequities for same-sex couples and gave no indication he would move toward supporting full marriage equality.

Asked if the president would go beyond incremental fixes to address a lack of marital rights for same-sex couples before 2012, Barnes noted that the president “has consistently called for the repeal of [the Defense of Marriage Act]” and used his “executive authority” to help provide more benefits to same-sex couples through federal agencies.

“That’s the course that he has identified, that’s the course that he has supported,” Barnes said.

The Advocate followed up with, “Just to reiterate, he still supports civil unions ... that’s a separate-but-equal institution — and I’m wondering if he’s at any point going to move to embracing full equality rather than these smaller steps.”

Barnes responded, “I understand what you’re saying, but that’s the course he has set forth.”

Fierce advocating.....riiiiiiigggghhhhht.

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