Obama and “The Gays”

6 August, 2009 at 5:04 pm (Civil Rights, President Obama, SuperGay)

My friend Austin shared a commentary written by Dan Savage in this month’s Advocate, and I wanted to share it here. In it, he talks about why the Gay and Lesbian (or LGBTQAMSNOVP) community supported Obama…

Remember when he practically spooned Melissa Etheridge during the Logo–Human Rights Campaign debate? Remember when he positioned himself to the left of Hillary Clinton on the Defense of Marriage Act? While Clinton came out in favor of a partial repeal, Obama said he favored — and would fight for — a complete repeal, and described DOMA as “abhorrent.”

That was pretty sweet.

Then there was Barack Obama’s open letter to the gay community. “Equality is a moral imperative,” candidate Obama wrote, before reiterating his promise to repeal DOMA. He also promised to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” to pressure Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard hate-crimes act, and to lift the HIV travel ban. And then this line in particular jumped out at me, as it must have for other gay parents: “As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.”

…and why he is now making us angry:

…his Department of Justice chose to celebrate the beginning of Gay Pride Month by defending DOMA, leaning on every bigoted argument against marriage equality that Pat Robertson ever advanced.


Take “don’t ask, don’t tell.” During the campaign Obama promised to “end” the ban on gays in the military, but now he talks about “changing” it. Apparently, the president hopes to find some middle ground, a “bipartisan solution,” some compromise that pleases both advocates of gay equality and raving antigay bigots. Someone needs to tell the president that “don’t ask, don’t tell,” crafted in 1993 by the Clinton administration, was the split-the-difference middle ground, it was the “bipartisan” compromise, and it’s proved to be as unworkable as it is unjust.

The way Obama has “dealt” with gays and lesbians (and their allies) sucks. Really, really sucks. And so I’m torn…I’m mad – really mad – at Obama, but not in the way the angry conservatives (and irrational bigots) are. My anger could be mollified. Outside of the gay & lesbian issue, I have no problems with Obama…but the thing is, the gay & lesbian issue IS my issue. We all have that one “thing” that we’re most passionate about, and civil rights is mine. Gays & Lesbians deserve equal rights – period. Obama isn’t delivering – period.

The worst part is, if he’s not, who would? Clinton promised us less, and it was her husband’s administration who created a lot of the anti-gay laws (DOMA and DADT) that we’re trying to repeal today. And a Republican? McCain or anyone else? Forgetaboutit. As angry as I am at Obama, I have to remind myself that it could be worse; lest we forget, Bush and the Republicans ran their 2004 campaign on passing an amendment to the constitution that would have stripped gays and lesbians of equal rights. So things aren’t as bad, comparatively…

I haven’t given up hope on Obama, I think just because I can’t – it’s too awful. And outside of that stupid DOJ briefing (I will never, ever understand the rationale for that Bush-era p.o.s.), I can’t say it’s not completely unexpected. (though you have to wonder why they can’t repeal DADT at least, something most people support, and something that everyone in the country would benefit from). The worst thing, to me, is that a person who campaigned as being strong for equal rights; a person that was able to be elected while being strong for equal rights, STILL ISN’T DELIVERING. So there’s the sense of hopelessness – we’re a small minority group, and they know they “have” us. “Things would be worse under Republicans (or at least they would going by the rule of the last 15+ years)”, Dems think, “so why would gays and lesbians change their loyalty?”. And the sick thing is, it’s true; things could be worse. And I know eventually change will come, as progress can’t be stopped; no amount of right-wing, fundie hatred will put gays and lesbians back in the closet. But when? And how can we make this happen? Because voting for the man that was for us sure didn’t do the job.

Anyway, read Dan Savage’s article – he’s a better writer than I.



  1. Rosella said,

    I know it is something to be angry about and I am disappointed. But, as important as this is to so many people (and many who do not fall into the category of personal gay/lesbian relationships), there are some pretty big issues out there. The economy, health reform, restoring world opinion. Getting that sorted out would be so much harder if the issue close to your heart was brought to bear first. I know it is hard, but patience will win out, I am sure. If you can give him time to get at least two of those things on track, then I will go stand in front of the White House with you and carry a sign. I am sorry and I understand, but sometimes it just isn’t quite the right time. I fear this is one of those times. It will come..and soon, I think

  2. adayinthelyfe said,

    I’m with you, Gran. The problem isn’t the inaction so much as the action he HAS taken – the DOJ brief, for example. It compared gay marriage to incest and pederasty. It wasn’t necessary, and it was a complete 180 from what he had said. And yes, he didn’t personally write it – but seriously. As for everything else…I do get what you’re saying. Though things can’t just happen one at a time (wasn’t the inability to multi-task through the economic breakdown the final nail in McCain’s coffin?). I know there’s a process for these things, and that Obama can’t just wave a magic wand and change things…but we have a democratic president AND a democratic congress…if not now, when?

    • Rosella said,

      Hopefully soon, before I get to old to march. I think we should harken back to the civil rights movement and just start singing ‘we shall overcome someday” in front of the white house. That may grab his attention. I hope it is one of those “at the right time” things and it is on the front burner. If not, then I will be upset with him. I’d say, give him until the anniversary of his first year and then something needs to be moving on that front. If not, I’ll meet you in DC

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