Questions raised by Obama’s DOMA defense

15 06 2009

“The greatest thing…is just to love and be loved in return.”  I have thought about those words (from Eden Abhez’s 1947  song “Nature Boy”) again and again the last few days.  Because, while love indeed IS the greatest thing, it is NOT all you need when you choose to live in a governed society (a choice I’m reconsidering with great intensity since President Obama defended DOMA last week).

If you don’t know:  the President’s Department of Justice argued in favor of DOMA last week in a California case.  In their argument, President Obama’s team compared gay marriage to incest, to sex with minors.  And, my personal favorite, they argued that–in these tough economic times, the President has an obligation to protect our country’s scarce resources and, thus, can’t support granting of equal rights that carry a price tag.   As my friend David Mixner said, it was as if Pat Robertson snuck into DOJ and wrote the brief.

I’ll leave it to the lawyers to argue the “case” against DOMA.

For me, the Administration’s actions have raised some very basic questions.

Questions for you, Mr. President:

  • How does it feel to be the first president who could not have held office if prior presidents had not signed laws granting you equality?
  • How can you, a man who 140 years ago would have been viewed as property, not a president, how can you give an economic excuse for denying civil rights?
  • And, Mr. President, when you tuck Sasha and Malia in at night, how does it feel to know that your legacy to them very well could be that you took that man-given right and used it to prevent others from having the same rights?
  • When they ask why you, Mr. President, the man who won an office on the words “yes, we can”, turned around and told millions of Americans, “no, you can’t”?

Of course, you are not just a father, Mr. President. You are the President of the United States.  A man who is a quite public student of his predecessors.

So, I ask you to look to President Johnston and recall the Civil Rights Act of 1964–the act that granted you equal access to employment and education, Mr. President.  An act that was passed in the midst of the Vietnam War.  An act that Johnson readily acknowledged “will cost us (as in Democrats) the South” for at least a generation.

  • When you recall that Act and its consequences, ask yourself, was it worth it for you and your fellow African-Americans, Mr. President?
  • Was Johnson right to tirelessly work the phones for the Acts passage–in the midst of a war?
  • Was he right to stand up to Democratic leaders who said, “No you can’t” and say, “Yes, we can…because we must”? Was it worth the sacrifice of lost political power to ensure your equality, Mr. President?

If the answer is “yes”, then why can’t you be a little more like LBJ, Mr. President, and a little less like Bill Clinton?

Because it was Bill Clinton who gave us DOMA in the first place.  Probably while Monica Lewinsky was on her knees blowing his…marriage vows.  That he felt compelled to protect with a federal law.  Guilt’s a funny thing, huh?

Now, I have some questions for our community, too:

  • Are we Democrats first and g,l, b or t second?  Why else would we willingly drink the partisan Kool-Aid that tells us it’s because of the Republican that we don’t have equal rights?  See Bill Clinton above.  See how the Democrats control the White House AND the Senate AND the House.  And, yet, Nancy Pelosi said as recently as April that repeal of DOMA was not a priority.  If Newt Gingrich had said that, what would our response have been?  Would we have gladly given him millions upon millions of dollars to keep fighting the good fight?
  • Why is our community—lovers of instant gratification–so content with postponed gratification when it comes to our rights?  When Barney Frank et al tell us that the time’s not right to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, why do we say “OK, no problem.  Please let us know when it’s convenient”?
  • And, when our friends, co-workers, and family members tell us to cut President Obama some slack, why don’t we ask them to replace “gay” with “woman”, “Jew”,  or “Black”?  Why don’t we say, “OK.  so if the issue wasn’t gay rights, but Israel, would you still argue that the President has more important issues on his plate?”  OR “If  Obama’s first Supreme Court nomination had been a white guy instead of a Latina, would women’s groups and Latinos have cautioned their communities to be patient, because they president’s a busy man?” ” Would the media outlets have ignored such a move…as they have ignored the President’s DOMA arguments?”

Which raises two, final questions:

  • Why do gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transgenders allow those who SAY they are our friends to ACT as our enemies?
  • How long are we going to take it?



One response

15 06 2009

Time to MARCH – everywhere. Mr. Taylor – say it ALL baby – say everything Woodruff couldn’t. Time to MARCH EVERYWHERE … Blessed be!

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