Sunday, June 28, 2009

Concerning Obama on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

I've tried to refrain from weighing in too heavily on how gay rights issues are being dealt with by the Obama administration. I was cool with the argument that there are really big issues to deal with, because it 's true. There is no dispute. I was cool with the idea that BHO would get to GLBT issues eventually, and work to maintain his campaign promises, promises he did not have to make. I was excited when BHO called himself a "fierce advocate" for the rights of the GLBT community.

The novelty has worn off.

How does a self-described "fierce advocate" allow the nasty rhetoric of a brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to stand without substantive comment, and/or, preferably, a rescinding of said brief so that it could be re-written without the comparisons between gay marriage and incest and the like?

How does a self-described "fierce advocate" state clearly that he does not support the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" law, then decide not to take the one legal option he has to circumvent the application of the law, through an executive order of stop-loss, or push Congress to act swiftly, especially when support for lifting the ban is at an all-time high across demographic groups?

How does a self-described "fierce advocate" remain quite silent as Vermont, Maine, Iowa and New Hampshire usher in marriage equality, in spite of that "advocate's" continued disagreement (now) based on religion over marriage equality? Wouldn't those who agree to disagree still offer congratulations?

Stephen Colbert offered a good explanation for this "fierce advocacy" on his show last week:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Stonewalling
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

Feels close to the mark to me, and that's a shame. We don't need a "fierce advocate" like that.

Students of history will recognize that few civil rights movements have advanced as quickly as the gay rights movement, if you use today's anniversary of Stonewall as the start. Those same students also will recognize that never before in the history of this nation has the country been so poised to enact all sorts of laws advancing that cause. Yet, the party in power, under the leadership of the GLBT community's "fierce advocate," is acting as though it does not recognize the benefits of the confluence of these events.

So, I have a suggestion for our "fierce advocate." I think BHO should take a page out of the book of those whose actions he graciously noted we should recognize this month. Take a real stand against those who you think hold some sort of power over you, those who make you nervous about the so-called political implications of being on the right side of history. Fight back against those who want to maintain second-class citizenship for the GLBT community. Remember all of those people who fought back 40 years ago today, and look at how far the nation has come. "Fierce advocates" know that history, and they would also know what to do. Honor those who fought by doing what's right, and it will be one hell of a parade on the 41st anniversary of Stonewall.


Scott said...

Well said Free. I too was willing to be patient until that Justice Dept. brief came out.

One of the things the "Christian right" has finally learned about the Republican Party is that despite saying all the right words, the corporate establishment that really controls the GOP doesn't give a damn about the social issues that are important to them. Abortion and guns and gay marriage--the GOP simply uses them as hot-buttons to lure the ignorant into voting in ways that in fact contradict their own economic interests.

I'm beginning to wonder if the people who control the Democratic Party are running the same game with their "base" of social liberals. They say all the right words, pose as "fierce advocates" of our rights...but when it comes to action there is nothing behind the words.

Yes we can doesn't mean yes we will, eh?

hscfree said...

Thankfully, I knew that last line you wrote going in. I learned that during the Clinton era. It really is a shame that history is repeating itself with regard to attitudes and civil rights issues. The primary problem here is that religion is prominently in the mix here, and Christianists are quite comfortable with blending the sacred and the secular when it comes to their point of view, opposing positions be damned, literally for some.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame religion. Obama is responsible for his own decisions. The fact that you, along with the rest of the left, had unrealistic expectations of him is your own fault. He is a very gifted politician, no more and no less.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting to see you lash out at Christians (again). Perhaps you should explore Muslim views of homosexuality or the status of homosexuals in Muslim countries. Or what about the status of gay rights in his father's native Africa?

hscfree said...

@Anon 1: And McCain supporters weren't excited for their guy, and didn't have expectations based on what he said he would try to do? Come on now. Of course BHO is a politician, but it is up to his constituents to hold his feet to the fire. I would have expected the same from McCain supporters had he won.

@Anon 2: If you note the actual term that I used, you would see that I used "christianist," not christian. I am following Andrew Sullivan's (a christian) example of separating out those who seem more in line with, as he suggested, islamists. And I know full well the islamic position on homosexuality. But BHO, not being a muslim, has not suggested that his position on gay marriage, for example, has been influenced by his late father's faith.