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May 14, 2009

It's dawning on gays that Obama has no interest in their issues

Andrew Sullivan has a powerful commentary on the Atlantic web site noting what many of us suspected even during the campaign: Obama has no serious interest in advancing legal or policy change on gay issues.  Sullivan writes:

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.

Sullivan refers to Tuesday's White House briefing in which press secretary Robert Gibbs brushes aside a series of questions on marriage, civil unions, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  You can find that here.

Sullivan's commentary comes on the heels of a similar piece last week in the New York Times, noting that 

Mr. Obama — who has said he opposes same-sex marriage as a Christian but describes himself as a “fierce advocate of equality” for gay men and lesbians — is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore amid a dizzying pace of social, political, legal and legislative change.

A standard response to such complaints is that gays should have patience while Obama deals with the economy, the Supreme Court, etc.  But not every issue of concern to gays requires a major presidential push and 60 votes in the Senate.  Obama gave a tepid, arguably even counterproductive, response to the Iowa marriage decision.  An expert on DADT has argued that Obama has the executive authority to stem the harmful firing of gays from the military if he wanted to.  And there is no apparent evidence that the administration is doing anything to plan for eventually following through on the promises it made on marriage-like federal benefits for legally recognized same-sex couples.


May 14, 2009 | Permalink


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Good points by all. I remain somewhat more optimistic, though. I've posted in response at: wordinedgewise.org

Posted by: John Culhane | May 15, 2009 7:53:07 AM

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