Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Obama and Gay Rights

Why is Obama punting on gay issues?

There are a couple of different explanations. While I do not agree with all of these, I am going to try and explain them.

1. It is hard. (Again, I'm not buying this, but for the sake of arguement). President Clinton campaigned on Gay Rights. He blinked when his proposals when through Congress. Afraid of a full ban on gays in the military, he compromised to DADT. While we all hate it, it is far better than what we did have at the time. Now, following in Clinton's footsteps, Obama is backing off his campaign promises. It is hard, but DADT should be a no-brainer. In a 2008 Washington Post–ABC News poll, 75% of Americans – including 80% of Democrats, 75% of independents, and 66% of conservatives – said that openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the military.

2. It is part of a larger strategy. It is possible that Obama is waiting. Midterm elections are coming up. While we do have 60 votes in the Senate (assuming Franken gets seated), it is possible that not all 60 democrats would vote for Gay-Rights legislation. If we waited it out until the midterm elections, we could possibly gain (but possibly lose) seats in the Senate. This gain could help push through legislation that would not pass right now.

3. As the article above points out, Obama has two lesbians on his USSC Shortlist:
Two gay women are on the commonly cited short lists to replace David Souter, and already opponents are lining up to cause a stir — arguing that the appointment of a homosexual would mean putting a sure vote for gay marriage on the bench. It's hard to imagine Obama would appoint someone gay, no matter how hard LGBT activists push him on it.
It would be nice to have some representation on the high court. Anything he does could be taken to the USSC, and maybe he is waiting till he can get a better batch of judges on the USSC that will side with LGBT people.

4. Gays just dont care about DADT. I mean, lets face it, the number one concern of most LGBT people is marriage equality. Sure DADT is important, but even if it is repealed, we are not going to have a "join the military" part en mass. Most gay people are much more interested in Marriage Equality, which is happening on the State level, away from the federal government. Obama, keeping a low profile on Gay issues, may be waiting for States to pave the way to LGBT equality on the Federal Level

So maybe this is why he is waiting. Or maybe, just maybe, it is us. We need to, as a community, stand up and let Obama and all other politicians know we are not campaign toys. If they promises us rights and liberties, and we vote and campaign for them, then we have earned them. No politician is above critique, Democrat or Republican. As a community, we are not beholding to a party or a person. We must fight for our rights, and I encourage you all to make your voices heard over the coming months:

A lawsuit filed by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will now force the Obama administration to take a stand on the future of DOMA in the next five weeks.