As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stop Making Them Second-Class Citizens

Following up on the gay marriage talk, it really grates on me that social conservatives can still use the words of Democratic leaders who are too milquetoast to argue fervently for equal rights. We're not even talking about just marriage, but the entire umbrella of gay rights, things that the nation has come to a consensus on long ago, like banning discrimination against gays in employment or stopping the insane policy of firing willing public servants at a time when we need as many eager members of the military as possible because of their personal relationships. Hearing the White House hem and haw on these issues, which are uncontroversial to the vast majority of the public, just really makes you sad. Democrats continue to tie themselves up in knots with fear of actually producing for communities like the LGBT base, despite the fact that social conservatives have become totally marginalized and nobody who listens to James Dobson would vote for a Democrat anyway.

Andrew Sullivan has an important piece on these issues.

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.

Yesterday, Robert Gibbs gave non-answer after non-answer on civil unions and Obama's clear campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; non-answer after non-answer on the military's remaining ban on honest servicemembers. What was once a categorical pledge is now - well let's call it the toilet paper that it is. I spent yesterday trying to get a better idea of what's intended on all fronts, and the overwhelming sense - apart from a terror of saying anything about gay people on the record - is that we are in the same spot as in every Democratic administration: the well-paid leaders of the established groups get jobs and invites, and that's about it. Worse: we will get a purely symbolic, practically useless hate crimes bill that they will then wave in our faces to prove they need do nothing more.

It's not only wrong, it's no longer even smart politics. The gay community has money, ground troops and power, and they are increasingly organized. What you rile up on the right gets more than made up for from the energy and effort from the left. Not to mention, it's the right thing to do.

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