Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why we're upset

In comments to a previous post, long-time e-friend JCF complains at the "gay cynicism" that sees the glass half empty. The Beltway insiders feel the same way. Last week, President Obama met with a few prominent bloggers. When questioned by Joe Sudbay (AmericaBlog) about LGBT issues, Mr Obama was somewhat aggrieved (my emphasis)

Let me go to the larger issue, though, Joe, about disillusionment and disappointment. I guess my attitude is that we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any President in history.
That's a pretty low bar, sir. I got robo-called by the Pro-Prop8 forces using your voice to oppose my right to marry. Your opposition was ... barely noticeable. Yes, you have done some good things--like your "it gets better" video. And you signed the Matthew Shepherd act on hate crimes. But on substantive change, you've been MIA. And your whole thing with Rick Warren and other gay bashers was a real slap in the face.
I’ve appointed more openly gay people to more positions in this government than any President in history.
Again, a pretty low bar. Appointing LGBT people to mid-range administrative jobs was ground-breaking in the Clinton administration. It would be shocking if you hadn't. And there are no high-ranking (cabinet level) LGBT people, and your advisors, like Valerie Jarrett, use terms like "gay lifestyle", which suggests that the inner circle is basically clueless.
We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control, including, for example, hospital visitation.
Yes, but nearly all of these have been rather tepid executive orders. For example, granting benefits to partners of gay federal employees sounded great on the news, but it turns out that didn't include health care or pensions, and in fact, it isn't clear that employees who are actually MARRIED to their partner (say, in Massachusetts) are even eligible. And you say that you support robust civil unions (not marriage) but there's been no progress there either.
On “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I have been as systematic and methodical in trying to move that agenda forward as I could be given my legal constraints, given that Congress had explicitly passed a law designed to tie my hands on the issue.
Actually, sir, no you haven't. You promised it would be repealed, in your state of the union address, but after that, you put no effort into it. First, let's think legislatively. The Defense Authorization Bill doesn't repeal DADT, it kicks the can down the road pending a Pentagon report. And even then, despite strong support in the polls and from the chair of the Joint Chiefs, the Republicans successfully filibustered, and you didn't expend any political capital in twisting arms to get support (or to prevent Harry Reid's political fiddling). In the executive branch, the new Marine Commandant is almost insubordinate in his opposition. The Pentagon is using very questionable means to "examine" the issue. Judicially, you continue to appeal this, even though there is considerable evidence that this support is NOT mandated in any way. Harry Truman racially integrated the military with an executive order. He didn't defend Jim Crow in court.
And so, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think that the disillusionment is justified.
Mr President, there has been NO substantive change at the federal level, despite your promises. It's you who made those promises, sir.

Let's think of what's going on in Washington.
DADT (see above). Status: still in force, Obama administration appealing a Federal District Court decision that found it unconstitutional.

DPBO (Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act). Would give actual benefits to legal domestic partners of federal employees. Status: dead in the halls of Congress. Also, no clear whether married couples even eligible, because of

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Still in force, Obama administration appealing a Federal District Court decision that found section 3 unconstitutional. This section forbids federal recognition of legal same sex couples and enshrines in federal law an official second-class status to LGBT people. Basically, it means my marriage legally evaporates when I leave this state.

ENDA: Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Stalled, because of right wing fears of transgendered people using restrooms. Thus, it remains legal to fire LGBT people simply for being (or appearing) LGBT.

UAFA: Uniting American Families Act. Immigration reform that would allow Americans to sponsor their legal gay partners who are citizens of other countries. not moving, because of rabid opposition from anti-gay forces including the Roman Catholic church, so that such couples will continue to be either separated or forced to live in exile.

Even in the "big ticket" bills that are not about "Teh Gay", we've been thrown under the bus. Coverage for same sex partners in the health care bill? Thrown out during the "sausage making" phase. WIth health care, with immigration, we are dispensible. For the greater good. Hold the door open for everyone else. then go sit ouside.

You're aggrieved Mr President? So are we. Movement on one thing, just one, would have made a difference. When you said there would be change, for once, we thought we would actually be part of the Big Fat American Family sitting at the table with everyone else. YOU are the one who made the promises. And now you have the audacity to scold us for believing you?

That doesn't mean I won't vote, or that I won't vote Democrat. But I will continue to hold you and your administration accountable for the promises that YOU made.

1 comment:

Paul (A.) said...

Or more succinctly, what jpjones said.

wv = abilit
(lacking full ability)