I know Mr. President, you have a lot on your plate with this health care reform thing. I also know your administration doesn’t want to hear from another blogger on this topic, but its important. You told the Human Rights Commission on Saturday you were working with Congress and the Pentagon to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but you didn’t say when. Mr. President, you are the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Issue an Executive Order allowing gays to openly serve, then work with Congress to pass a law mandating that policy.
What you shouldn’t do Mr. President? Don’t sign the bill passed by the House expanding the definition of hate crimes to include crimes committed based on the victim’s sexual orientation. That legislation only serves to further the notion that gay people are different and should be governed by different laws than straight citizens (like the one about marriage).
Like I said President Obama, I know you’re busy with health-care and Afghanistan and all, but ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” might prove a welcome distraction. The media focus will be off health care reform for a while. The right-wing lies will slow to a crawl. Use the distraction wisely though, as it won’t last long. Allowing gays in the military won’t be a big deal. When the initial shock wears off, everyone will be talking about health care and Afghanistan again.
Another upside? You can tell the pundits that say you haven’t accomplished anything to shove it.
Almost a month ago Sen. Russ Feingold issued a press release containing a letter to President Obama, regarding Feingold’s apprehension over the so-called “czars” in the President’s administration. I thought the letter smacked of Glenn Beck then promptly forgot about it. Until this morning when MSNBC ran a segment on Feingold and Sen. Diane Feinstein, apparently joining forces in quest to hassle the President over his advisors.
I understand the Senators concerns, part of their function in the legislative branch is to provide a check on the executive. However at this moment, lack of party unity could prove to be the undoing of health-care reform. Petty issues like this are best left to the Glenn Beck’s of the world, we have more important things to do. Come back to the “czar” issue in a year, you’ll realize its irrelevant.
President Obama is making another token gesture to the gay-rights crowd, speaking before the Human Rights Campaign this weekend. He will charm them into complacency for another few months, while he fails to make any progress (or take any action) in the realm of gay rights.
The President could overturn “Don’t ask, don’t tell” with an executive order today, making a few Republicans scramble, and temporarily forget to propagate lies about health-care reform, a win-win! At least the Justice Department is half-assing its defense of DOMA.
Finally, the public discussion of military strategy is making the President look weak. Personally, I like the information and opinions being out in the public domain, but its not doing any good for the adminstration. Leaks and top officials like McChrystal and Gates publicly speaking their opinion when it may be at odds with the decision the President makes in a week is all fodder for the right-wing talk show hosts who latch onto anything to attck the Obama administration. A team of rivals is good, all options should be explored. Just not like this.
David Catania of the Washington D.C. Council will soon be introducing the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” which would legalize gay marriage in Washington DC. The bill has ten co-sponsors (from a 13 member council) and seems guaranteed to pass.
This is bigger than any states legalization of gay marriage as the District is administered by Congress, so all laws passed by the Council are at the mercy of congressional review. If Congress decides not to step in and overturn the law that inaction denotes the biggest step toward gay marriage the legislative branch of the federal government has ever undertaken.
The federal government employs 27% of workers in D.C. but under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act they do not recognize same sex marriages. If the D.C. Council passes this law Congress and President Obama may be forced to reconsider DOMA as a matter of policy. The president has already stated his opposition to DOMA, but he does not support same sex marriage either. This could force him to make that push for gay rights we all expected after his campaign.
Of course the law faces challenges. The bills author, from a Washington Post article;
“I think it is very important for people to realize we are talking about a civil marriage, not a religious marriage,” Catania said.
Is it still necessary to convince people of this? Unfortunately the answer must be yes. Until people realize that legalizing same sex marriage does not mean the pope will have to marry Rosie and Ellen the fight for marriage equality will be harder than it needs to be. Conservatives from all over the country will get involved, conveniently forgetting their mantras of limited government and states (or districts) rights.
I don’t see a repeal of DOMA in the near future. Congress is way too busy with health care reform to bring up another divisive issue. Maybe all the D.C. law will accomplish is gay marriage in D.C., but for all the gay couples there that just want the same rights as everyone else, thats still a very good thing.
Today the Justice Department responded to a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. It is a despicable law that Bill Clinton cowardly signed. As the DOJ must do, they defended DOMA, while making clear that the Obama administration finds the law discriminatory and will work with Congress to repeal it.
Obama said throughout the campaign that he would not support same-sex marriage, but would of course advocate gay rights. Whether he personally believes same-sex marriage is wrong or that supporting it would be political suicide is anyones guess.
I’m already not a fan of Obama’s politics on homosexuality because of this half-assed approach toward gay rights, but this recent statement on DOMA is pushing me further. The Commander-in-Chief has the ability to end the military’s ridiculous policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” right now but he has yet to act. Meanwhile the military is losing quality personnel in important positions because they are tired of having to hide their identity. You can only have so many summits to reassure the gay community and ask for more time before they turn on you.
Kudos for the statement on DOMA Mr. President but you can do something for gay rights today yet you do nothing. Maybe by the end of the year at least?