The Big Gay Olive Branch
Honoring the 40th anniversary of Stonewall while transparently pleading for time and faith from key supporters who have begun to abandon him, yesterday the President held a big gay party (not my words) and gave a pretty speech in an attempt to placate the LGBT community. If Joe Sudbay is any indication, it didn't work:
Also, your president wants you to know that unjust laws must be overturned. Some day. The crowd loved that one too. One might forget that the Obama administration defended the Defense of Marriage Act law recently. They not only defended it, they defended it in a way that demeaned and mocked same-sex marriages by invoking incest and pedophilia. But never mind.
Obama also told us that some would deny us full equality. Um, that would include him. He doesn't support marriage equality -- and his words are being used against our efforts to achieve those rights. But again, never mind.
The President tells us that he's looking for a "practical" solution to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (We've also heard the solution has to be "durable" or "sustainable.") But, it has to be an Act of Congress. It really really really really has to be an Act of Congress and not a stop-loss order that could achieve the same thing by executive order immediately. It's too bad that in the meantime two gay service men and women are kicked out every day. But hey, we're a nation at war. And, for some reason it means that we should have fewer, and not more, Arabic linguists. See, we're going to continue to ruin the lives of people who want to serve their nation, but, in the long run, that's okay. Because we're perpetually at war. But, someday we'll have a "practical" or "durable" or "sustainable" solution. Although, it is funny how how "practical" and "durable" and "sustainable" weren't talking points on DADT during the campaign. (Search for those terms in Senator Obama's Statement on Don't Ask Don't Tell from November 2007.) They sure are now that Obama is dragging his feet on every major campaign promise to the gay community.
All in all, the president gave a very eloquent speech. But, you know what, we've heard those speeches already. He's the president now, not some candidate. He can do more than talk. And so far, he's chosen not to, and made up some pretty flimsy excuses to justify his action. And, while many of the so-called gay "leaders" in the East Room may be assuaged and bought off by the promise of champagne and a heartfelt "God bless you" from the man who promised much, lots more people are mad as hell and starting to think they're being taken for a ride.
Lt. Col. Victor Fahrenbach, about to be discharged by the Air Force under DADT, actually showed up to the big gay party, and spoke directly to the President. He discussed the meeting with Allison Stewart last night.
Stewart correctly locates the outrage from the LGBT community back to that terrible DOMA brief linking homosexuality to incest and pedophilia. And Fahrenbach breaks some news here - that Obama basically told him the senior leadership in the military has misgivings over repealing DADT, and that this will take some time to smooth over. If that were the only obstacle, the community would probably understand. The DOMA brief really fractured the goodwill here, and Obama should have apologized for it today. Hendrik Hertzberg has a good rundown of the whole dispute.
What should wake up this President and the Democratic Congress to the need for full civil rights for all is this almost complete reiteration of Stonewall, at a gay nightclub in Fort Worth, Texas, THIS WEEKEND. Forty years after Stonewall, gays remain second-class citizens on far too many fronts. While Congress is making positive sounds on moving key gay rights legislation like extending the Employee Non-Discrimination Act for LGBT members, providing health care benefits for same-sex couples who are federal employees, and repealing DADT. But these sounds must be accompanied with action, and the full and active support of the White House. The gay community will no longer settle for less.