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June 16, 2009 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, Obama will extend federal employee benefits to same-sex partners. But is it too little, too late to mend the growing rift between Obama and gay rights advocates, especially after last week's controversial DOMA brief (discussed previously)?
posted by gerryblog (173 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
If the left didn't turn on itself, it wouldn't be the left.
posted by smackfu at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


yes.
posted by brandz at 7:13 PM on June 16, 2009


If 'turn on itself' means thinking about and challenging the sometimes misguided policies of the people we voted for instead of blindly accepting them, yep, that's the left... or the left that I'm a part of, anyway.
posted by Huck500 at 7:15 PM on June 16, 2009 [43 favorites]


Obama has said he's not in favor of gay marriage (he's got that "it's a boy/girl thing" problem) but he has said also that he wants same sex couples to be able to have all the benefits of straight couples. I personally think that's a shame about the marriage thing, but if he can really truly deliver ALL the benefits (and I'm well aware that this isn't it, but it's a start) I'm open to letting him try. I don't think anyone thought he was going to be all "rah rah gay marriage" once he took office, but we also didn't think he'd pull that DOMA shit either. This is a start, whether it's too little and/or too late will be interesting to see, and the timing is a little ... interesting as well.
posted by jessamyn at 7:18 PM on June 16, 2009 [22 favorites]


I think we need to recognize that we won't get everything we want yet, but that this is a huge step that is pushing equality forward.
posted by Pants! at 7:21 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I certainly wouldn't defend the DOMA brief, but at least there's some (wrong-headed) principle involved that administrations shouldn't reverse the legal positions of previous administrations. DADT is the one that gets me: at this point who out there is still in favor of DADT? Who would complain it if were reversed by executive fiat tomorrow?
posted by gerryblog at 7:22 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I need to keep reminding myself that the gay community doesn't observe and think as a monolithic entity.

Some will take the abusing boyfriend back, hopeful that it really will be different this time.

Some will unemotionally negotiate the most favorable terms of surrender.

Some have become too proud and too angry to be bought off.

Those are the kind of people who win civil rights struggles.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:22 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the first link "However, the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal government from extending health and retirement benefits to same-sex couples, so the benefits are more likely to be marginal -- like relocation assistance."

So he's not going to give partners health benefits? This seems like far too little too late. I also thought this quote was spot on "The executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a large state-based gay rights group, Alan Van Capelle, greeted today's announcement sarcastically.

"Welcome to 1999," he told POLITICO. "How revolutionary of the White House to give benefits to same-sex couples, when two-thirds of conservative Wall Street are already doing it. What an achievement.""

But the conservative corporations go even further than Obama is going! Come on Obama, step it up and do something meaningful.
posted by Arbac at 7:24 PM on June 16, 2009


Did you really just make an analogy to Obama's interactions with the gay community as similar to an abusive relationship?
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 PM on June 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


From the article: "UPDATE: This post has been updated to note that health benefits appear not to be among those to be extended..."
posted by hermitosis at 7:31 PM on June 16, 2009


Well that's certainly a lot less. But if he extends health benefits to all Americans later this summer...
posted by Pants! at 7:33 PM on June 16, 2009


As long as the DOMA hasn't been repealed, can Obama do what he says? It forbids the Feds from doing this.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:34 PM on June 16, 2009


"Welcome to 1999," he told POLITICO. "How revolutionary of the White House to give benefits to same-sex couples, when two-thirds of conservative Wall Street are already doing it. What an achievement.""

I'm just sick of the it's not the right time, it's not the right time, BS. The administration needs to grow a pair.
posted by edbles at 7:34 PM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


This whole situations needs its own idiom to describe it.

How does "Separate but equal" sound?

On preview:

From the article: "UPDATE: This post has been updated to note that health benefits appear not to be among those to be extended..."

posted by hermitosis at 10:31 PM on June 16


G-d damn it. It's not even "Equal"!
posted by mikelieman at 7:35 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As a few have noted, according to advocate.com the Lieberman-Baldwin Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act has to be passed before health benefits can be extended. No idea if passage is likely or expected any time soon.
posted by gerryblog at 7:36 PM on June 16, 2009


If all of the legal benefits of heterosexual couples are extended to homosexual couples, one by one or in small bunches, and then the United States does not subsequently crack in half and slide into a flaming rift with a large, pink Satan bellowing "MY PLAN IS COMPLETE AND SOON WE WILL HAVE NO MORE BABIES," folks might start to wonder precisely what the big deal about the term "marriage" is.

No, really, think about it. We've seen all seen variants of that list, numbering at least fifty (I've heard 1,400+), of marriage benefits denied gay couples (now, that's a napsack!). What if that list was turned into a checklist?

Just slide one through every so often. "You can't really object to letting someone see their SO in the hospital, can you?" "Well, no." A month or so later, "What's wrong with joint housing for the elderly? It's like a Boston marriage." "Yeah, that's okay." Basically, deconstruct marriage, slide the individual items through one by one, and reassemble it on the other side, like a big gay transporter pad. At the end of it you have what's the equivalent of a marriage in rights and benefits. My guess is that halfway through the process everyone will just give in on it and either legalize gay marriage or go full civil union.

Civil rights with regards to race were not attained in one fell swoop. I don't foresee this happening all at once, either.
posted by adipocere at 7:37 PM on June 16, 2009 [49 favorites]


I don't agree that this is a matter of "being bought off." Just as strongly I believe that the DOJ brief was a mistake, I believe that credit should be given where credit is due, and that this is a significant step in the right direction. I'm not into giving the middle finger to Obama just for the sake of giving him the middle finger.

I wish Obama would declare DOMA invalid with the stroke of a pen. It's not going to happen. One of the links in one of the articles notes that extending health benefits to unmarried couples will require Congress to pass the Lieberman-Baldwin Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. That is a crucial point. The ball is in Congress's court.

For those who believe in positive change, the only way right now to make health benefits happen is to work to make Congress pass this vital legislation. Continuing to greet Obama with rage isn't going to do it.
posted by blucevalo at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have to say that the fact that this doesn't include health insurance really just pisses me off. As far as I can tell that is THE benefit extended to family members by employers and while I read up through that point trying to be reasonable and thinking that this was a nice olive branch/a step in the right direction for some reason the idea that health insurance isn't included just makes me furious. It feels patronizing and at best an empty gesture; seriously, I'm tired of this sort of symbolic meaninglessness and almost feel like it would be better if this hadn't been done at all instead of being done in a bullshit, ineffectual way. I'm sure the care and love behind the idea will be of great comfort to the families of federal employees who get sick or have to spend additional money on other healthcare options.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:41 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


As long as the DOMA hasn't been repealed, can Obama do what he says? It forbids the Feds from doing this.

I've read a few stories that say he doesn't have the power to give health or retirement benefits without violating the DOMA.
posted by smackfu at 7:42 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


For instance, this Advocate article.
posted by smackfu at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why he should legalize pot. Once everyone is toting up, things will relax.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Apologies, I posted while angry which I know I oughtn't to have done. I do get that health benefits are a trickier issue legally but I still find the whole thing farcical without them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:48 PM on June 16, 2009


How ironic that Cheney is more tolerant and "liberal" on this issue than Obama.

This irony is very chewy.
posted by Danf at 7:57 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, imagine the progress that could have been made if Cheney had been in a position of power over the last eight years.
posted by gerryblog at 8:00 PM on June 16, 2009 [27 favorites]


The frustration of the emotional roller-coaster ride that all of this has been can be summed up by my Sims 3 character:

"ARRRRGH! FARBIN GARNZO!"

Try saying it out loud. It really helps. Now, go write your representatives in Congress.

Don't include "farbin garnzo"
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:06 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not nostalgic, just noting what the two men say about whether gay people should have the right to fully marry.
posted by Danf at 8:07 PM on June 16, 2009


If all of the legal benefits of heterosexual couples are extended to homosexual couples, one by one or in small bunches, and then the United States does not subsequently crack in half and slide into a flaming rift with a large, pink Satan bellowing "MY PLAN IS COMPLETE AND SOON WE WILL HAVE NO MORE BABIES," folks might start to wonder precisely what the big deal about the term "marriage" is.

A variant on this plan seems to be working elsewhere, with same-sex couples given equal rights, but with the term 'marriage' legally withheld. People start using the term anyway in casual conversation, and by the time same-sex marriage is actually allowed, most people will wonder that it wasn't already so.

---

As for the general Obama-is-not-the-messiah-feeling: yeah, it sucks that politicians suck, what?
posted by Sova at 8:11 PM on June 16, 2009


You know, Obama is rather letting the side down lately (from all this gay rights perspective, etc.)

But I still gotta say, he's a better choice than that whackjob McCain.

And he's an awesome coalition builder, so let's see him (re)build the coalition.
posted by kalessin at 8:17 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good, but not good enough. I, too, feel like this might be a weak-ass attempt to quell the DOMA controversy.

Yeah, between health care reform, the Iranian election situation, and the general still-suckitude of the economy, he's probably stretched a little thin, but he needs to just out-and-out denounce the DOMA brief if nothing else.

(and stick DADT in the Jim Crow history drawer while we're at it. Shit, the Armed Forces are already ready to do so, by my understanding.)
posted by Navelgazer at 8:21 PM on June 16, 2009


smackfu: "I've read a few stories that say he doesn't have the power to give health or retirement benefits without violating the DOMA."

The Geneva Convention - which is federal law - requires Obama to prosecute torture. He has publicly declared he will never allow prosecutions.

So let's not have any pretense that Obama feels the least bit constrained in his actions by his profound reverence for the Law. All he cares about is keeping the gays quiet at the most affordable price. If that price was raised to include extending health benefits to the spouses of federal employees, he would cut the check - and DOMA could go fuck itself.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:25 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not nostalgic, just noting what the two men say about whether gay people should have the right to fully marry.

Sasha and Malia aren't really old enough to publically express a sexual preference yet. If either of them were to be bi or lesbian, as Mary Cheney is, I bet Obama would change his personal tune pretty quickly. Openly gay staffers apparently aren't enough to soften up his stance, so it'll have to be a family member.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:26 PM on June 16, 2009


So let's not have any pretense that Obama feels the least bit constrained in his actions by his profound reverence for the Law.

Let's not be confusing your interpretation of the Law with actual laws.
posted by smackfu at 8:30 PM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


If 'turn on itself' means thinking about and challenging the sometimes misguided policies of the people we voted for instead of blindly accepting them, yep, that's the left... or the left that I'm a part of, anyway.

I bristle at this sentiment throughout the liberal community that Obama could turn the US into a shining liberal utopia, but somehow lacks the courage or will to do it. It's as if they ignore every poll, every election result, every measurable indication of reality, in favor of this misguided assumption that Middle America is just dying to lurch violently leftward, if only someone would show them the way.

Obama won the election, yeah, but he's only got so much political capital to burn before the Republicans are able to get their grubby mitts all over his approval ratings (and reelection chances). Frankly, I don't think it's worth it for Obama to make a stink over gay marriage now. It's progressing quite nicely without his help, and he's got more than enough on his plate already. (Which is worse: being unable to get married in your particular state, or being sick and unable to afford a doctor?) Is a knock-down, drag-out war over gay marriage at the federal level in 2009 worth President-Elect Sarah Palin in 2012? I'm not saying it's a sure-fire thing, obviously, but the man's got to pick his battles.
posted by Garak at 8:32 PM on June 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Basically, deconstruct marriage, slide the individual items through one by one, and reassemble it on the other side, like a big gay transporter pad. At the end of it you have what's the equivalent of a marriage in rights and benefits.

Where do you slide through the dignity? The "these are human rights people deserve because they are people, and gays people are people", when does that get sliced up and reassembled "on the other side"?

Instead it's, "here gays, in our recent legal opinion we wrote that you aren't really people, but have a benefits lollipop (healthcare not included thanks to DOMA), that'll keep you distracted." You can't sit at the tabbe, you can't have the dinner we're having, but here are some scraps and crumbs.

It's patronizing, and nearly as disingenuous as the old Southern "argument" that "our blacks don't want freedom, they wouldn't know what to do about freedom, they're just happy to have the economic security and fine meals they get in slavery/share-cropping". And all to similar to that fine fiction of "separate but equal" that held from Plessy until Brown v. Board.

Most gays, I hope, aren't after the nifty consolation prizes and messes of pottage being offered in exchange for their shutting up about their birthright as human beings.
posted by orthogonality at 8:33 PM on June 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Most gays aren't federal employees so it's not they're even playing the game, let alone getting consolation prizes.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you really just make an analogy to Obama's interactions with the gay community as similar to an abusive relationship?

I say this will all the respect in the world for you, jessamyn, and I know you don't like the threads that Joe Beese starts, but his is not a horrible analogy.

In fact, it is — quite unfortunately — somewhat accurate, to the extent that we've seen a lot of words from the Obama camp, promising positive changes, but a great deal of action in the wrong direction.

Until he repeals DOMA, this latest statement is just another "promise" on shaky ground, most likely intended to placate the gays with the tease of just a few more rights, until repercussions from the DOJ brief blow over.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:41 PM on June 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


perfect post title, by the way.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:42 PM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes, imagine the progress that could have been made if Cheney had been in a position of power over the last eight years.

I see this kind of comment over and over again and still try to make sense of it each time.

The real world that Americans all live in is that Obama is in charge — not Cheney, not McCain, not even Palin (even if she keeps bullying the public into thinking she's at a higher pay grade).

If the premise of having a democracy is that its leaders represent the views of those the people select, then all the "what ifs" and "imagines" in the world don't really matter a whole lot.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 PM on June 16, 2009


Obama won the election, yeah, but he's only got so much political capital to burn before the Republicans are able to get their grubby mitts all over his approval ratings (and reelection chances)

This.
Obama, like any other politician, has one eye (at least) on the next election cycle. He knows damn well that he's not going to lose the Left vote, because the way things are shaping up there's no chance the other side will run someone who's anywhere near acceptable, and most people won't vote Third. Ever. One of the most frustrating consequences of the two-party system is that you can't afford to teach your own team a lesson by withholding your vote without essentially handing it over to the other side, and Obama well knows this. So he's concentrating, just as he did before the last election, on holding onto the moderate vote.
I think that this doesn't in the least justify the DOMA thing, but it's as good an explanation as any for why he's not just neutral (which I what I for one was expecting) but negative on the gay rights thing. He lurches to the Left, he loses the moderates, and gains nothing. He stands aside, he leaves doubts. He pokes the Left with a sharp stick, he shows Joe Homophobe that he's got nothing to worry about.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:55 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Frankly, I don't think it's worth it for Obama to make a stink over gay marriage now.

When gay people make arguments like this, I disagree. When straight people make this argument, it makes me want to break things.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 PM on June 16, 2009 [17 favorites]


I wish Obama would declare DOMA invalid with the stroke of a pen.

He doesn't have that power.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:57 PM on June 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


a big gay transporter pad.

DO WANT
posted by rtha at 8:58 PM on June 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Okay, I wish Obama could declare DOMA invalid with the stroke of a pen. I misspoke.
posted by blucevalo at 9:01 PM on June 16, 2009


Obama won the election, yeah, but he's only got so much political capital to burn before the Republicans are able to get their grubby mitts all over his approval ratings (and reelection chances). Frankly, I don't think it's worth it for Obama to make a stink over gay marriage now.

You should not be allowed to make this statement without providing a single example of something Obama has accomplished because he didn't cause "political animosity" over actively supporting gay rights.

I'm sick of people suggesting that the conservative Democrats and Republicans filibustering the health care plan would have- what- filibustered extra hard?- if Obama showed sack on DOMA or DADT as if that's an actual excuse.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:02 PM on June 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


He doesn't have that power.

Sure he does, he just doesn't exercise it the way his predecessor did. Dubya claimed and exercised the power to invalidate laws fairly regularly, in comparison with other presidents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:02 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Which is worse: being unable to get married in your particular state, or being sick and unable to afford a doctor?)

Which is worse: a Hobson's choice, or a really stupid Hobson's choice?
posted by blucevalo at 9:03 PM on June 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


(Which is worse: being unable to get married in your particular state, or being sick and unable to afford a doctor?)

The great thing about being the partner of a gay federal employee is that you don't have to choose.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:06 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The great thing about being the partner of a gay federal employee is that you don't have to choose.

Incorrect.
posted by blucevalo at 9:08 PM on June 16, 2009


But is it too little, too late

It is never too late to do the right thing.

Too little? Well, let's just say I'm not calling off my trip to Washington in October.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:21 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I said: If 'turn on itself' means thinking about and challenging the sometimes misguided policies of the people we voted for instead of blindly accepting them, yep, that's the left... or the left that I'm a part of, anyway.

Garak said: I bristle at this sentiment throughout the liberal community that Obama could turn the US into a shining liberal utopia, but somehow lacks the courage or will to do it. It's as if they ignore every poll, every election result, every measurable indication of reality, in favor of this misguided assumption that Middle America is just dying to lurch violently leftward, if only someone would show them the way.

Who said anything about a shining liberal utopia? Obama campaigned as pretty gay-friendly by promising certain things and he seems to be faltering. I'm going to call him on it, whether you think it's worth it for him or not, because it's important to me and the gay people I know. Bristle all you want.
posted by Huck500 at 9:26 PM on June 16, 2009


Incorrect.

Missing a sarcasm tag. I meant you wouldn't have to choose because they'd both be true already.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:36 PM on June 16, 2009


(Which is worse: being unable to get married in your particular state, or being sick and unable to afford a doctor?)

Ooh! I know I know!

Being unable to visit your uninsured gay spouse in the hospital!

jesus fucking christ
posted by rtha at 9:39 PM on June 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


A variant on this plan seems to be working elsewhere, with same-sex couples given equal rights, but with the term 'marriage' legally withheld.

Here in Canada is "elsewhere." We have same-sex marriage here. No "civil union," no "marriage-lite" but MARRIED in exactly the same sense and with exactly the same rights, perquisites and responsibilities as those in opposite-sex marriages have. THIS does not only "seem to be working"; it IS working, and even a Conservative government gave up trying to go back.

Why Canada is so often ignored in the SSM "debate" (as against the health care one) is something I cannot understand.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:46 PM on June 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


As long as we're talking about it, separate is not equal. (safe pdf download link)
posted by hippybear at 9:52 PM on June 16, 2009


Being unable to visit your uninsured gay spouse in the hospital!

Actually, it's being unable to visit your uninsured gay non-spouse in the hospital, since in all but six states you're not married to him/her and the hospital can pretend that you are no relation and keep you completely in the dark about his/her condition and, if they so desire, not let you even see him/her.

This has actually happened, most recently in Fresno, so it's not a far-fetched scenario. In a Miami case, the partner died in the hospital bed without having been allowed to see her partner once. The surviving partner was told by hospital personnel that Miami is a gay-unfriendly city and that she could go jump into the Atlantic for all they cared.
posted by blucevalo at 10:07 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, clearly I'm naive. I knew that (generally speaking) the United States wasn't in favour of gay marriage, but I had no idea that federal employees didn't even have equal rights (including health) for their partners. When I joined my country's federal government in 2001 it was no problem to sign up my girlfriend for benefits.

I just assumed that you guys had that too. It made watching the marriage fight a little easier.

Now...I don't know what to think. I know I'm sad.
posted by aclevername at 10:19 PM on June 16, 2009


It has been already said, but to reiterate: Obama can't, as far as I know, legally declare DOMA or DADT invalid because both are laws, right? and he can't retroactively veto them (this would be the kind of executive overreaching many of us complained about for the last 8 years) -- they must either be nullified by SCOTUS (unlikely?) or by another legislative act. So how much of the wavering on gay rights is the fault of the Democratic party at large?
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:45 PM on June 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sure he does, he just doesn't exercise it the way his predecessor did. Dubya claimed and exercised the power to invalidate laws fairly regularly, in comparison with other presidents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon


If only we could return to those shining days that we all loved so much. What was that Metafilter slogan in '04 -- "Long live the imperial presidency!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


psst.. It's not just about DOMA and DADT... a trans-inclusive ENDA is important, too...
posted by jiawen at 12:41 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly glad that I choose the candidate who is going to let us sit on the bus, even if it is only in the back. Sure, I'd like to sit where I want with who I want, but any other politician wouldn't even stop the bus for us.

Maybe someday he'll say something besides "Damn faggot" under his breath when I get on his damn bus.
posted by paddbear at 3:11 AM on June 17, 2009


No, really, think about it. We've seen all seen variants of that list, numbering at least fifty (I've heard 1,400+), of marriage benefits denied gay couples (now, that's a napsack!). What if that list was turned into a checklist?

Just slide one through every so often. "You can't really object to letting someone see their SO in the hospital, can you?" "Well, no." A month or so later, "What's wrong with joint housing for the elderly? It's like a Boston marriage." "Yeah, that's okay." Basically, deconstruct marriage, slide the individual items through one by one, and reassemble it on the other side, like a big gay transporter pad. At the end of it you have what's the equivalent of a marriage in rights and benefits. My guess is that halfway through the process everyone will just give in on it and either legalize gay marriage or go full civil union.

Civil rights with regards to race were not attained in one fell swoop. I don't foresee this happening all at once, either.


Isn't this how the "pro-life" people operate - with some success? Attack the framing, aggressively assault the margins while keeping a pure goal in mind.

None of the anti-abortion loonies in the mainstream go after Roe vs. Wade anymore, it's all "parental consent" and "cool-down period" and allowing "freedom of conscience" for healthcare providers. These are all things that they can sneak past, because although most people in the United States are pro-choice, these things can be dressed up in nice enough terms to be acceptable to voters who are only marginally pro-choice.

Anyway, to my (Dutch) eyes there are two issues in distinguishing between Civil Unions and marriage:

1) The federal structure of the United States means that using different nomenclature might affect mutual recognition of unions, even if the rights are exactly the same.
2) Marriage as a traditional (in a sense sacramental thing) and civil unions as a poor second. A consolation prize thrown to the LGBT community to keep them quiet.

The first one makes sense to me, but the second one seems a little odd. Maybe it's because in my country all marriages are civil unions, and in fact in Dutch law cohabitation and joint filing of taxes can establish certain "marriage rights" between any couple, the whole mysticism surrounding marriage in the US confuses me.
posted by atrazine at 3:12 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe, just maybe, the administration is wise enough to realize that if they suddenly extended pay benefits and then just as suddenly revoked DOMA (not that they can do that, anyway - total abuse of executive power), a huge segment of the American public would flip out. Radical change scares the piss out of them and I'd say it's pretty much guaranteed that the results would be ugly. Not just for Obama's reelection chances, but in terms of taking two legislative steps backward in individual states. Hell, two social steps backward - prejudice and attacks on homosexuals would probably rise. You can't force change down people's throats...all at once, that is.

However, if you take the "slide change through one policy at a time" approach that adipocere mentioned, one can assume that the consequences would be less severe.

Not to derail this into a general defense of Obama, but he's not a Messiah, he's a man. But he did get elected President, so maybe, just maybe he's a little more politically savvy than any of us here. It's been five months - there might be more in the works than people think. Or not. I'm just not giving up hope quite yet.

Also, I'm still puzzled by the fact that people, generally of the liberal persuasion, have no difficulty separating conservative politicians' spin and rhetoric from conservative actions - "Bush and Co. say the Iraq war is about security but really it's about oil" being the grossest example - yet expect liberal politicians' words and deeds to be in perfect alignment. They're politicians. It's their m.o. to prevaricate. The best we can ask for is that this time it works in our favor.

(I've got a strange mix of optimism and cynicism going on, I know.)
posted by signalandnoise at 3:47 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


When straight people make this argument, it makes me want to break things.

Which is worse: a Hobson's choice, or a really stupid Hobson's choice?

Bristle all you want.

jesus fucking christ

I guess this would be the left turning on itself. I'm not even remotely disagreeing on what the policy should be. (For the record, I don't think Obama disagrees either.) I'm disagreeing on what's the best way to get there, and that's apparently insufficiently progressive for discussion on MetaFilter.

Obama is systematically dismantling both the Republican party and the Reagan Revolution, and he's doing it by being a brilliant goddamn politician. Unfortunately, that means waffling on some issues, keeping up the show of "bipartisanship," and, yes, pissing off the base. But I fully believe that Obama will be able to put a more liberal, and more enduring, agenda in place his way rather than the base's way. Disagree with me all you want, but we'll see where we are in eight years.
posted by Garak at 4:02 AM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm disagreeing on what's the best way to get there

Denying a dying mother the right to see her children is not the best way to get there. Is that good enough?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:13 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


When gay people make arguments like this, I disagree. When straight people make this argument, it makes me want to break things. - hermitosis

So much for equality, huh? How about not thinking about people's preferences for a second and treat their responses with the same violent outrage or polite disagreement? You know, equally?

never mind
posted by Appropriate Username at 4:35 AM on June 17, 2009


DOMA is unconstitutional. Where's that "constitutional law professor" I heard about, back during the campaign? And while you're looking for that guy, keep an eye out for honor. You know, that nebulous thing we used to value, that encouraged folks to keep their oaths? Flubbed or not, Mr. President Obama did swear to uphold and defend the constitution.

Oh, wait, I forgot. That old nonsense about oaths and honor went out of fashion in the last administration. I guess that makes me the chump, for thinking that "change" included a return to this particular value, when clearly, it does not.

And that pesky matter about the torture stuff. You know, those (unspeakable expletive) criminals raped children, to torture the parents? And this administration, and this congress, is too busy with "higher priorities" to go after the them?

Gay rights? I'm gay. Those rights we're after sure as hell aren't some "single issue" thing about which I wet my pants. But damn, they sure are a convenient litmus test, to determine how constitutional the shiny new administration is interested in becoming.

Some of you folks are just too willing to be shills for the Democratic Party. Others are simply to complacent in the shackles to which you've become accustomed. Yes, shackles, dumb asses. The constitution either reigns supreme, or you all are nothing but a bunch of stinking corporate chattel, subject to the whims of profit and avarice. And don't think it matters at all what gender stirkes your fancy, that shit is just part of the smoke and mirrors.

Yes, there are weighty issues, some more desperate than others! But don't lets think that governmental respect for the founding principles are something that can wait while "more important" issues are handled.

There's a huge, stinking, steaming pile of shit in the middle of the Oval Office rug. Yea, the President is busy with Important Matters. But that doesn't mean that someone can't at least get the shit off the rug. He has people for that, god damn it.
posted by Goofyy at 5:26 AM on June 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


DOMA is unconstitutional.

DOMA is wrong and hateful. Whether it is unconstitutional is, in a technical sense, something for the Supreme Court to decide.

I mean, what if it were constitutional? Would that make it OK? No. The fact that it is likely to be found unconstitutional is good, because it opens an avenue to attack it, but its constitutionality is surely neither here nor there from a moral point of view.
posted by atrazine at 5:37 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


How about not thinking about people's preferences for a second

Yes, I'd love that. Tell it to the federal government.
posted by blucevalo at 5:44 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


How ironic that Cheney is more tolerant and "liberal" on this issue than Obama.

Talk is cheap. This is one of the two men who made gay-baiting a key re-election strategy in '04, remember. That's how "liberal" he is on this issue. Criticize the current administration by all means, but don't let Dick fool you.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:01 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ok, so according to the Advocate article that gerryblog linked above, the clumsily-titled Lieberman-Baldwin Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act has to be passed before healthcare benefits can be extended to same-sex partners. On one hand, I guess this is better than having to wait for DOMA to be repealed? Maybe? On the other, it still rankles that we have to, you know, wait for friggin' legislation to extend fundamental privileges to same-sex partners.

Can someone who is smarter than I am please explain to me, using small words if possible, why this is the case? If DOMA, an already-existing piece of legislation, isn't the stumbling block, how is it that a proposed but yet-to-be-passed act is the holdup?
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:26 AM on June 17, 2009


If Obama had said in the campaign, "Equal rights should be extended to all LGBT Americans, but I am not sure if the political climate in America today will allow that to happen during my term as president," as a gay man, I still would have voted for him, because he was so much better than McCain. However, Obama didn't do that. He said he would be a 'fierce advocate' for LGBT rights. He promised DOMA and DADT would be overturned. Now, I am pissed. But, if the election were today, I would still vote for him. (Just like I voted for Bill Clinton's reelection, after he stabbed LGBT folks in the back during his first term.) This is probably why LGBT issues are never a priority - where else are we going to go?
posted by hworth at 6:33 AM on June 17, 2009


Yes, it's too late! Because it has been (checks calendar) ALMOST 5 FREAKING MONTHS ALREADY!

What is this Obama guy's problem? I wanted my world saved in under 100 days. This is not what I voted for!
posted by jeanmari at 6:44 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look I understand the frustration and wish DOMA would evaporate and everyone could get married anywhere to anyone, but... is it really Obama's job to personally go over and approve or disapprove every federal court ruling in the US?

The DOMA brief wasn't written by the President. It was written by an assistant attorney general in California and the accompanying legal team. I would be very surprised to find that the persons responsible for writing the brief were Obama appointees. This is why we have a separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government - so that the President can't just dictate law and have it be interpreted any way he wants.

Now I feel a little hypocritical here because I know that I was guilty of wanting to lay the blame squarely on Bush's head for every idiot decision made during the awful 8 years of his reign as Decider In Chief, but rationally we know that can't fairly be done and saying this brief is Obama's decision isn't fair either. Until I see Obama on TV giving a speech flatly stating that gays should burn in hell, I'm not going to get discouraged. Annoyed, yes. But not discouraged.

Hell, the man has a lot on his plate right now. As important as this issue is to so many people, there are other things that are much more pressing on a national and international level. When he won he election I was hopeful enough to rejoice but realistic enough to recognize that everything wouldn't magically be fixed as soon as he was sworn in. It hasn't even been a year yet, people. Why so quick to give up now?
posted by caution live frogs at 7:04 AM on June 17, 2009


He doesn't have that power.

Sure he does, he just doesn't exercise it the way his predecessor did. Dubya claimed and exercised the power to invalidate laws fairly regularly, in comparison with other presidents.


And we screamed about it for years, and rightly so. I think this brief is shitty, and it makes me angry, but I don't want a Democratic king any more than I wanted a Republican one.

Put pressure on Obama, absolutely. Call the White House. Call your congressman, and your senators. Go to barackobama.com and whitehouse.gov and flood their servers with angry emails. The Christian Right blocked integration of gays into the military in 1993 because they organized loudly and effectively. We have to do the same thing, and do it louder and better, if we want Obama to listen to us on this.
posted by EarBucket at 7:11 AM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's too late! Because it has been (checks calendar) ALMOST 5 FREAKING MONTHS ALREADY!

You know what? I've been waiting all my life, through 25 years of presidents who wouldn't even utter the word "gay" in public and who in private used it as an epithet. Then I waited through eight years of another president who said that he had my back and who then signed DOMA into law with a flourish. I waited through another eight years of yet another president who used me and my committed relationship as a wedge issue to stir up mass hatred, incite panic, and amass votes in an election, and who stood up in public and loudly proclaimed that he wanted to pursue a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage because, he claimed, he wanted "to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever."

While I'm not a complete idiot, and while I'm realistic enough to understand that Obama has a lot on his plate, and while I also know that change doesn't happen overnight, excuse me, please, if I'm a little impatient at this point in my life. I'm sorry if that offends you, bothers you, or raises your hackles. Thank you.
posted by blucevalo at 7:32 AM on June 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


"You know, I doubt the president thought much about gay rights when he was growing up. The whole thing just didn't cross his radar. And in communities where he worked, a lot of the community leaders, particularly the powerful pastors, are and were outspokenly anti-gay. Obama is smart; he knew that he would have to develop a progressive stance on the issue. But I doubt that he ever felt strongly about it. It was a back-burner issue like, I dunno, statehood for Puerto Rico. He's for it, but not right now. He has important business. I'd even concede that. The bloody world is blowing up, and the proverbial plate is full. But the Obama administration did not have to go out of its way to support a vile law that the candidate himself was against. It did not have to use the most tired and insulting of arguments in its brief. But he let it go, or his administration let it go, because they really don't care. It's a wedge issue, and blah blah blah, and only the loving couples who want to enjoy the same rights as other couples really care about it, and -- OK, so they voted for Obama. They will again. Next." -- Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
posted by blucevalo at 7:36 AM on June 17, 2009


caution live frogs You're being hypocritical, sorry. The buck stops there. He's the Executive, the DOMA brief was filed by an Executive agency, ergo its his responsibility. Not in the sense that he personally wrote it, but in the sense that its his branch of the government and he's bloody well responsible for what it does. The buck stops there.

Further, while yes the DoJ has an obligation to uphold extant law it does not, in fact, have an obligation to fight tooth and nail for laws it doesn't like. It certainly does not have an obligation to file a brief in that instance. It most definitely doesn't have an obligation to file a brief loaded with the most vile and repulsive right wing theocrat arguments it could muster.

Obama's head of the DoJ approved filing a brief in favor of DOMA (even though he was under no obligation to do so), and he approved of that particularly hateful and vicious brief.

Either Obama approves of this action, and should say so openly and directly, or he does not approve of that action and should both say so openly and directly and also call his DoJ head to heel and get him to knock off the bullshit.

What Obama *has* done is basically cowardly. He's made no clear statement on the brief one way or another, but instead has held out an insulting doggie biscuit to equality advocates and acts as if this should be enough to shut us up.

I think he has a moral obligation to tell us where he really stands. When he was a candidate he told us that he opposed DOMA and would fight to repeal it. He told us he was a "fierce" advocate of gay rights (while simultaneously saying "fuck you, marriage is super duper special and only for good heterosexuals not evil faggots", but that's another fight).

He made a campaign promise about DOMA. He said he'd fight it. Now either that was a lie, in which case he should admit it, or his DoJ went behind his back and fucked him and he's got an obligation to rake them over the coals and publicly repudiate the vile brief filed in his name.
posted by sotonohito at 7:38 AM on June 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Further, while yes the DoJ has an obligation to uphold extant law it does not, in fact, have an obligation to fight tooth and nail for laws it doesn't like.

Yes, actually, it does. The DOJ is charged with the Executive's duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. It is its constitutional duty. Besides which, if it failed to do so, the Supreme Court would not be allowed to hear the case. Article III requires an actual case or controversy. Supreme Court review is dependent on adversarial representation, which requires zealous advocacy within the bounds of the law.
posted by jock@law at 7:46 AM on June 17, 2009


Supreme Court review is dependent on adversarial representation, which requires zealous advocacy within the bounds of the law.

There's a significant difference between "zealous advocacy" and over-the-moon replication of the exact same arguments that a Bush DOJ would have made in defense of DOMA. Perhaps that difference is meaningless to you, but it's not to most people who are affected by DOMA.
posted by blucevalo at 7:51 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


blucevalo, no such arguments were made.
posted by jock@law at 7:57 AM on June 17, 2009


caution live frogs: Look I understand the frustration and wish DOMA would evaporate and everyone could get married anywhere to anyone, but... is it really Obama's job to personally go over and approve or disapprove every federal court ruling in the US?

To quote Harry S. Truman, "The Buck Stops Here."

caution live frogs: Hell, the man has a lot on his plate right now.

Which is why effective leaders delegate.

caution life frogs: As important as this issue is to so many people, there are other things that are much more pressing on a national and international level. When he won he election I was hopeful enough to rejoice but realistic enough to recognize that everything wouldn't magically be fixed as soon as he was sworn in. It hasn't even been a year yet, people. Why so quick to give up now?

No, I don't think the gay community is being hasty at all. The Obama administration started off on the wrong foot with the Warren snafu, and then spent the next five months in PR blunder after PR blunder in dealing with the gay community and its journalists during a period of time when it was headline news due to developments in California, Iowa, New Hampshire, Washington state, and extremely public discharges of military personnel under DADT.

And for the most part, the gay community has been quite reasonable in its demands. No one is expecting change overnight. We wanted the President to go on the record when the California Supreme Court handed down their ruling. We want a timeline. We want a proposal. We want delegation. We want evidence that things are moving forward. If you are forced to defend DOMA, don't invoke the most virulent and prejudiced arguments against us.

Here is another thought to consider, when Michigan passed a constitutional amendment banning domestic partnership benefits, many organizations restructured their benefits packages to offer the same benefits in a way that got around the letter of the law.

Will this mean that gay rights advocates will vote for Palin or Huckabee in 2012? Probably not. But It may mean that gay rights advocates will devote their energy and funds to state-level ballot battles.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:09 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The people who insist that it's automatically unequal if it's not called "marriage" have more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd that they would care to admit.
posted by oaf at 8:10 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama is throwing the dog a bone, and it's bullshit. And all these arguments about how he can't stand by the things he said he'd do about DOMA, DADT, and (shamefully trans-exclusive) ENDA because OMG TEH WORLD IS ENDING AND HE HAZ PRIORITIEZ!!11! are bullshit as well. Do you really believe there was nothing else major going on in the world or in this country when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act? Or when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation? Or when we got the 19th amendment? The world doesn't stop having crises and disasters and wars and high-priority problems to address for a while so we can conveniently sit around and sing kumbaya around the campfire, holding hands and peacefully agreeing that all people really are created equal and ought to be treated that way under the law. It only becomes a priority when people insist it is a priority.
posted by notashroom at 8:11 AM on June 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


oaf: The people who insist that it's automatically unequal if it's not called "marriage" have more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd that they would care to admit.

Except that it is. "Marriage" like "citizenship" comes with a rich set of rights and privileges that are well defined by those terms in statutory and case law. At each step along the way, civil and domestic partnerships are open to a challenge as not fully equivalent to marriage.

They are also concepts that transfer across jurisdictions. A person who is married in California can be reasonably assured to still have those rights and privileges when visiting Florida. The same is definitely not true of domestic partnerships.

And even in California where domestic partnerships and marriage are equal in the eyes of the Supreme Court, there doesn't seem to be much, if any government initiative to support a three-level system.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:22 AM on June 17, 2009


L.A. Times: Obama's gay rights gap
"The gap between Obama and gay rights activists appears to be growing. True, the current federal lawsuits against the marriage act and Proposition 8 fail to recognize that a hasty march can be damaging to gay rights. The current composition of the U.S. Supreme Court makes it highly unlikely that such lawsuits will succeed, and adverse decisions could set the same-sex marriage movement back by years. From an ideological viewpoint, gays and lesbians are entitled to their rights now. But well-planned timing gives them the best chance of securing those rights soon. Obama, though, has shown a dishearteningly pragmatic willingness to allow the issue of gay rights to languish. The many Americans who support these rights expect better of him."
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


A person who is married in California can be reasonably assured to still have those rights and privileges when visiting Florida.

There are probably about 36,000 people who would disagree with you.
posted by oaf at 8:27 AM on June 17, 2009


oaf: you need to read the New Jersey Civil Union Review Board's final report "The Legal, Medical, Economic & Social Consequences of New Jeresy's Civil Union Law", which I linked to here. It lays out pretty clearly how the practical experience of "marriage in everything but name" has failed the citizens of the Garden State. It's not just an intellectual argument anymore.
posted by hippybear at 8:28 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA):
“I think the administration made a big mistake. The wording they used [in the brief filed by Obama’s Department of Justice that supported the Defense of Marriage Act] was inappropriate. I’ve been in touch with the White House and I’m hoping the president will make clear these were not his views."
posted by ericb at 8:29 AM on June 17, 2009


psst.. It's not just about DOMA and DADT... a trans-inclusive ENDA is important, too...

Barney Frank will introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress next week.
"Diego Sanchez, who is transgender and a senior policy adviser to Frank, said the bill will be inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. He noted it will include the legislative language Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) used in 2007 in an attempt to restore gender identity provisions to an earlier version of the bill. Sanchez said the new bill will debut with at least eight sponsors, including four Democrats and four Republicans. Among the sponsors are openly gay House members Frank, Baldwin and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). The lead Republican sponsor is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida."
posted by ericb at 8:31 AM on June 17, 2009


It lays out pretty clearly how the practical experience of "marriage in everything but name" has failed the citizens of the Garden State. It's not just an intellectual argument anymore.

Said experience has never been had by the citizens of any state, unless they've never had to deal with the federal government. So, yes, that argument is still theoretical.
posted by oaf at 8:32 AM on June 17, 2009


This is why I'm in favor of same-sex marriage. Giving benefits to unmarried couples means that there's less reason for marriage to have meaning. Marriage provides a legal structure for people to form a family, which is a legal construct in which people have benefits and responsibilities. There's a protocol for how to form a marriage and how to dissolve a marriage.

I firmly believe that people are against same-sex coupling(for multiple meanings of couple) because their mental image of the sexual activities squicks them out. Personally, I really avoid most mental images of people having sex, except for a few fabulously attractive folks. The lack of samesex marriage is what will damage marriage. It's nice that people want to marry; why not encourage them.
posted by theora55 at 8:33 AM on June 17, 2009


The people who insist that it's automatically unequal if it's not called "marriage" have more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd that they would care to admit.

Um, tell that to the Attorney General of New Jersey.
Panel Finds That Civil Unions Are Not Equal To Marriage.

Full Report from the Office of the Attorney General/Department of Law & Public Safety/Civil Union Review Commission (also refernced by hippybear above).
posted by ericb at 8:41 AM on June 17, 2009


Someone is quite the speed reader, I must say. 4 minutes to read a 50 page document. I'm impressed. It's a shame that when reading so quickly, his comprehension drops so dramatically.
posted by hippybear at 8:41 AM on June 17, 2009


"Marriage" like "citizenship" comes with a rich set of rights and privileges...

Partial list of the rights and benefits of "marriage"
"Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.

Creating a 'family partnership' under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.

Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.

Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.

Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse -- that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse’s behalf.

Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.

Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.

Receiving public assistance benefits.

Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.

Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.

Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.

Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse’s close relatives dies.

Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.

Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.

Making burial or other final arrangements.

Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.

Applying for joint foster care rights.

Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.

Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Living in neighborhoods zoned for 'families only.'

Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.

Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.

Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).

Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).

Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can’t force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.

Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family."*
What gays and lesbians are seeking is equality and not second-class citizenship.

As it stands we in the LGBT community are separate and not equal under the law.
posted by ericb at 8:47 AM on June 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Disagree with me all you want, but we'll see where we are in eight years.

Forgive me for harping on a point, but depending on whether or not your personal sexual orientation happens to already grant you the right to marry in all 50 states, the "we" in your dismissal is incredibly infuriating.
posted by hermitosis at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


And in case it hasn't already been mentioned, I want to point out that the thing coming out today is a Presidential Memo, not an Executive Order. The difference being that the former automatically expires at the end of Obama's presidency, while the latter requires the incoming president to formally repeal it, as O did with a number of W's royal proclamations. The more I read about how fucking weak sauce this thing is, the angrier I become. From here it sure as hell looks like this was a last-minute ill-conceived effort to keep some of the LGBT money from leaving Democratic coffers. I want so very much to be wrong, but I'm not seeing much to persuade me that I am.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:08 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


blucevalo, no such arguments were made.

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree, because they most definitely were made.
posted by blucevalo at 9:12 AM on June 17, 2009


The people who insist that it's automatically unequal if it's not called "marriage" have more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd that they would care to admit.

As does your glib dismissal.
posted by blucevalo at 9:12 AM on June 17, 2009


As soon as there aren't any laws at all, or policies at any companies or organizations, that refer to "marriage" specifically, I'll stop demanding that the word "marriage" be extended to same-sex couples. Until then, yes, it is in fact automatically unequal and I will continue to demand an end to inequality.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2009


Rush Limbaugh, to LGBT people on DOMA: "You're just gonna have to bend over, grab the ankles. Man up and deal with the guy. Stop whining."

His advice sounds very familiar.
posted by blucevalo at 9:25 AM on June 17, 2009


HRC Statement Regarding Presidential Memorandum
“Today’s Presidential memorandum committing to a federal workplace free from discrimination, including the extension of some benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers, is a welcome and long-overdue step toward bringing the government’s policies closer in line with what America’s largest companies understand is good for business. Today’s presidential signature is the first brick in paving what is a long path toward equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. We commend President Obama and his administration for taking this beginning step to level the playing field but we look forward to working with him to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, overturn 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' and guarantee the entire American workforce is free from discrimination.”
posted by ericb at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2009


blucevalo: do you have a link to that quote? I'd love to see the context.

(not defending that at all. I just need to see first-hand that Rush actually told gays and lesbians that they need to submit to forceable anal sex as a metaphor for how they should deal with marriage issues within american society. And how submitting to anal sex is somehow "manning up". Because I could use that line of reasoning with the next big butch beefy guy I approach for sex, and need the full modeling of how to make that logic work.)
posted by hippybear at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2009


do you have a link to that quote?

Limbaugh to Gays on Obama and DOMA: 'Bend Over Grab The Ankles' (with video).
posted by ericb at 9:31 AM on June 17, 2009


Thanks, ericb. You beat me to it.
posted by blucevalo at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2009


Oh sweet Jebus. You mean he said it not once, but TWICE? I was passing him off for stupid and not understanding what he'd really said on his radio program, but then Olberman has the link to him mugging for the camera and saying it?

My only recourse here has to be to send these clip to some of the creative chubby chasers I know who think Limbaugh's body type is hot and hope they remix this into a National Gay Pride Day dance anthem.

Wait, I have a Mac with Garageband. I don't think Rush is hot, but I could have a hit on my hands.

*wanders off to try his hand at remixing*
posted by hippybear at 9:40 AM on June 17, 2009


Rush Limbaugh: "You're just gonna have to bend over, grab the ankles. Man up and deal with the guy. Stop whining."

Is Rush smuggling drugs into the country again?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to maintain a positive outlook and not spiral downward to Michelangelo Signorile and John Aravosis levels of bitterness. I think this piece from Ed O'Keefe at the Washington Post makes an excellent point about Obama's benefits memo announcement:

"John Berry: The most senior openly gay official ever in U.S. government, Obama's director of the Office of Personnel Management is a telegenic, well-respected leader that has made several statements in recent months hinting at today's move, essentially test-driving comments you may soon hear from Obama. During a speech last week at the Justice Department, Berry passionately stated that the federal government had to do more to ensure equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans: 'With the help of a president who supports our cause, the aid of courageous fellow countrymen and women who love liberty, and with God's grace, we shall prevail" in the quest for civil rights,' Berry said.

"The president will take it from all sides on this decision: social conservatives will criticize the decision while gay rights activists will insist he did not do enough. Regardless, today is an important day for federal employees eager to enjoy the rights and benefits afforded to their colleagues." (Emphasis mine.)
posted by blucevalo at 9:47 AM on June 17, 2009


At the same time, MSNBC's John Yang notes:

"According to several gay rights activists, who have been briefed by the White House Counsel's office: The memorandum President Obama is signing today will not create benefits. It will direct all agencies to report back to the Office of Personnel Management on the things they can do within the constraints of the Defense of Marriage Act and, presumably, implement those changes at the end of the review period. DOMA prohibits the federal government from granting same-sex couples benefits that, by law, flow from 'marriage' or are granted to a 'spouse' -- health benefits, for example. There are some benefits that law provides to 'families' or 'children' -- leave to care for a sick family member under the Family Medical Leave Act or long-term-care insurance. It's the second set that the president is moving today to grant." (Emphasis mine.)

This, in my mind, is why DOMA has to go. Please just get rid of Section 3 of DOMA, if nothing else.
posted by blucevalo at 9:55 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


blucevalo: could you pretty please start including links with your quotations? It would help immensely.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 AM on June 17, 2009


This is so totally bizarre to me. I'm gay. I'm almost married, but not quite, having made the German arrangement, which is separate-but-equal. Even so, since then, I've lived in three other countries than Germany, and two I know counted me as married. The third probably would now, but who knows. My own country, the good ol' U.S. of A., the Land of the Free, would not.

I could even get actually married, if we wanted. We could have done that in South Africa, but saw no need, legally, we were considered married anyway. We could get married in my partner's home country, Belgium, but haven't seen fit to be bothered. I suppose, but don't know, we could get married here in Switzerland. We have no need of it, no reason to pursue it, far as we know.

My home country, the very country that invented modern republicanism, and invented the concept of separation of church and state, says no to gay marriage, based largely on religious dogma. From a personal view, I'm not especially concerned as I've no wish to move back there. I'm enjoying the freedom and liberty to be had outside the United States, just fine, and without being told I'm not equal to other folks. And frankly, I enjoy having a higher standard of living than the USA.

America has turned into a nation of fools that can't learn from their past mistakes, even when their faces are rubbed in it! Is it any wonder that the world is passing us buy? Much of the world learns from America's mistakes, why can't America do the same? Stop dehumanizing people! We know better! It's written into the Constitution! But no, we insist on doing this to one group after another. Until we finally are forced to letting the latest group of outcasts have rights like everyone else. Then it's all mea culpa, mea culpa...until the next group comes along.
posted by Goofyy at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, if the extension of benefits to federal employees does not include health benefits, what does it include? Pension benefits? Stuff like that? That'd be meaningful, I suppose. At least if I'm going to be a second-class citizen, I'd like my partner to be able to maintain that second-class lifestyle after I'm dead and gone.
posted by janet lynn at 10:45 AM on June 17, 2009


"But is it too little, too late to mend the growing rift between Obama and gay rights advocates"?

As a proud member of the LGBTWTFBBQ community, I have to say it... gay rights advocates are being kinda idiotic about this one.

President Obama's administration has been very clear how they intend on dealing with DOMA and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":

From the Justice Dept. Spokesman:
"The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system."

From a letter from Obama to Lt. Sandy Tsao released to the press in May:

"Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete, partly because it needs congressional action, I intend to fulfill my commitment,
Barack Obama"


So, basically the LGBT community helped elect the first President in history who is willing to back the legislation they want... but they're angry at him because he wants to deal with these issues legislatively, and not through executive orders.

This, frankly, is stupid, shortsighted, and damaging to what their real goals should be.

The fact is, the national debate regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and gay marriage is changing thousands of minds every day, with big, big shifts in public opinion. Most Republicans now support getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and opinion on gay marriage is also shifting noticeably, not the least because many Republican Party leaders are starting to see that they need to start being tolerant of social issues that they feel that they can't really win, in order to appear reasonable and inclusive.

At the same time though, President Obama finds himself in a bind. He is trying to get national health care passed, which is arguably the Holy Grail of the Democratic platform. Some speculate that it will be quite popular if it passes, and will help shift a considerable number of voters permanently over towards the Democrats, so it's got huge, sweeping ramifications for the country.Obama's plan is also a good stepping stone to a mandatory nationalized system.

So, Obama wants real health care to pass, but doesn't want anything else to get in the way of the kind of votes he's trying to court, both from moderate Republicans and from Blue Dog Democrats, who are vulnerable on social and military issues....

But amidst all this, the Christian Conservatives have worked with people in the military to create a letter to the President from senior military personnel -- including numerous four stars -- opposing DADT. And if Obama arbitrarity decides to use his power to ramrod the policy, he and the Democrats will get whacked hard on this issue, because the official public testimony out there *still* say that removing DADT is a threat.

What's needed are public Congressional hearings, building the argument that DADT is not a threat. This is a fight that can and should be won in the court of public opinion.

Given this rapid shift in public opinion, why would you want the President / a court to compel equality, essentially freezing the whole debate in place, so that Republican politicians will feel compelled to use it ad infinitum on Christian conservatives for fundraising purposes, when, with a bit of patience, you can win the debate entirely, making it no longer appealing for Republicans to try to fundraise based on opposition to LGBT issues.

Why rush things when you can marginalize the other side permanently?!
posted by markkraft at 10:49 AM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


blucevalo: The Bush Administration's arguments were along the lines of "If we allow gay marriage, then what authority will there be to deny incest?" It was an argument of policy.

The DOJ brief recently filed, while referring to both gay marriage and what some might consider incest, did not articulate a relationship between the two things. If you reread the brief, you'll find that what it was comparing was not the underlying policy decisions (gay marriage in one case, incest in another) but the state's power to recognize or not recognize other states' marriages according to its own public policy. The rightness (recognizing gay marriage) or wrongness (incest) of the policy is utterly irrelevant to the state's plenary power over its own recognition of marriage.

In review: The Bush memos were policy memos about the wrongness of gay marriage. The clause in question in the Obama brief is about state power. Saying a state has the power to do X isn't the same as saying that it's right or wrong for the state to do X.

Oh, and letting states decide for themselves what "marriage" means to them? That's the whole reason Massachusetts, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and more to come CAN have gay marriage despite gay marriage not existing under Federal law. If they couldn't decide for themselves, then Federal law would control, and Federal law prohibits its recognition.
posted by jock@law at 10:56 AM on June 17, 2009


Also, what markkraft said. National politics is a big chess game, especially when there are as many issues on the table as there are now.
posted by jock@law at 10:58 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft: I'm crossing threads here a bit to respond to your point, but did you read the actual brief that was issued by the DoJ last week in defense of DOMA? It contained the same arguments as always: allowing gays to marry 1) has never been allowed and thus never should be, 2) will bankrupt the government as they demand services they are now not receiving, and 3) is equal to allowing incestuous marriages.

It is the mean-spiritedness of that brief, which was not rejected but accepted as representing the views of the current administration, which creates within the GLBT community a sense that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes in order to win an election. That brief could have been worded in any number of other ways, but it wasn't.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here in Canada is "elsewhere." We have same-sex marriage here. No "civil union," no "marriage-lite" but MARRIED in exactly the same sense and with exactly the same rights, perquisites and responsibilities as those in opposite-sex marriages have.

IIRC, this is because our Supreme Court ruled that equal is equal, not because our government decided to do the right thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on June 17, 2009


markkraft, you make excellent points. I find your arguments very compelling. At the same time, for reasons I have stated above, emotionally, it's agonizingly difficult for me to wait, especially since I'm not getting any younger and, in reality, it may take a generation or longer for these changes to play out. It's a Catch-22.

You are absolutely right that taking the long view is the better idea. At the same time, it is also somewhat frustrating, not to say infuriating, that there are many who equate the emotional response that I am talking about -- which is entirely separate from the background strategy/tactics game that you are describing -- with whining, kvetching, bitching, or, as you put it, acting "idiotic."

I don't think it makes sense to dismiss the legitimate aspirations of a significant amount of people in those terms, whether they are ultimately in line with appropriate political strategy or not.

As to why things are being rushed and pushed and shouted about by activists -- well, that's what pressure groups exist to do. That's how they justify hitting people up for more money. That's how they play their end of the game. That's also part of the national political chess game, whether we like it or think it's idiotic or not.

Until pressure groups no longer exist, calling their idiosyncratic strategies short-sighted isn't going to dissuade them from pursuing them.
posted by blucevalo at 11:30 AM on June 17, 2009


I don't think it makes sense to dismiss the legitimate aspirations of a significant amount of people

No, it absolutely doesn't make sense to dismiss those legitimate aspirations. But that's not what the DOJ is doing. They're making legal arguments, not social ones. Their job is to defend the constitutionality, not the moral rightness, of the law. When they say "this is Constitutional [and by the way, we hope to change it through Congress]," shouting about not getting your way sets you back.
posted by jock@law at 11:35 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


jock@law, if you believe that DOMA's central purpose is to allow states to decide what they want to do, whether that involves banning gay marriage or legalizing it, so be it. I don't believe that's the central purpose of it, but I could be mistaken.

Perhaps I need to go back and re-read the Obama DOJ brief using your lens. I don't know whether that will persuade me, but I'm open to being convinced.
posted by blucevalo at 11:40 AM on June 17, 2009


I wasn't referring to the DOJ brief in that particular context, jock@law. I was referring to the propensity of some commenters, here and elsewhere, to dismiss the legitimate aspirations of a group of people as whining, kvetching, or bellyaching.
posted by blucevalo at 11:42 AM on June 17, 2009


hippybear, referring to your comment above, I apologize. Here are the links:

Just What Are the same-Sex Benefits? [MSNBC, June 17, 2009]

Same-Sex Partners Get Benefits [Washington Post, June 17, 2009]
posted by blucevalo at 11:46 AM on June 17, 2009


Start repeating the Bayard Rustin quote until it becomes common thought. "Twenty-five, thirty years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, or lesbian."
posted by cookie-k at 11:53 AM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


markkraft: No one is expecting change to happen overnight. Yes, it's going to take years of work to make these changes. The problem is, the White House has, since inauguration, has been extremely reluctant to go on the record in regards to gay rights, and this issue has been on his desk since February.

We are not asking for overnight change.
We are asking for evidence of a change process in progress.
We are asking for a commitment on the record.
We are asking for the White House to reaffirm commitments that were made during the campaign.

All of these are quite reasonable requests that the White House has refused to satisfy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:59 AM on June 17, 2009


blucevalo: "The courts have followed this principle, moreover, in relation to the validity of marriages performed in other States. Both the First and Second Restatements of Conflict of Laws recognize that State courts may refuse to give effect to a marriage, or to certain incidents of a marriage, that contravene the forum State's policy. See Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws § 134; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 284.5 And the courts have widely held that certain marriages performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See, e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, 'though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened the public policy of th[at] state'); Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson's Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages 'prohibited and void')."

The bits about incest or whatever are in parentheticals to citations to statements supporting the main point of the paragraph. They are not even close to the point of the argument; they happen to be policies states enacted regulating marriage, which they had the power to enforce against marriages performed out-of-state. It's not a political argument about whether gay marriage, or "marriage of uncle to niece," or "marriage of 16-year-old female," or "marriage of first cousins" should be allowed or prohibited. It's a legal argument that where policies conflict among states, states can, should, and always have followed their own policies instead of those of the other state.
posted by jock@law at 12:06 PM on June 17, 2009


fail to recognize that a hasty march can be damaging to gay rights

I'm so tired of that sentiment and so tired of judas goat organizations like the HRC that have completely internalized it. Aside from the offensiveness of telling a disenfranchised group of people how quickly they should demand equality, it just flies in the face of everything we know about how people are persuaded about equality, particularly with regards to "invisible" minorities like the GLBT community.

Okay, so the T component isn't always so invisible. I think most of us recognize that transgendered equality is going to be a tougher sell to Joe Average.

But the growing acceptance of GLB folk is almost completely traceable to their growing prominent presence in society. The fact that younger folk are so much more accepting of their GLB peers has much to do with the fact that they haven't been a dirty, hidden secret. They know that those relatives and friends are gay and they see that in every other way they're just like them.

Asking them to shut up and take what's doled out to them isn't just insulting, it's counter-productive. Every time they stand up from their desk and say "hey, I have needs too," the people around them see them as real people and are confronted with the things they take for granted that this person, otherwise just like them, is being denied.

It's accepting the status quo that's counter-productive.
posted by phearlez at 12:12 PM on June 17, 2009


And since I hate everything while twirling my mustache from my diamond-shielded lair of evil, I'll provide a positive suggestion for what the administration could do:

Appoint a gay rights adviser, a "czar" (to use an Orwellian term) or liaison. This person would serve as an alternative spokesperson to Gibbs, since his utter incompetence when it comes to managing PR around gay rights over the last five months has demolished his credibility on that issue. This person would also be working with congress and the military, commission the impact studies, and generally would be responsible for getting things rolling forward.

phearlez: Okay, so the T component isn't always so invisible. I think most of us recognize that transgendered equality is going to be a tougher sell to Joe Average.

Actually, provided that you can head the, "ZOMG, child molesters in women's bathrooms" fear machine, it's an easier sell than same-sex marriage.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:19 PM on June 17, 2009


head-off the bathroom issue that is.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:26 PM on June 17, 2009


"Marriage" is a homonym with two meanings, one legal, one religious. Supporters of marital equality, including me, want gays who want to get married to have all of the same legal rights as married straight people do, and I believe most supporters don't care about making churches perform marriage ceremonies for gay people. Opponents of marital equality often get hung up on the religious meaning of "marriage."

We either change the word "marriage" to "civil union" in every piece of local, state, and federal legislation, or we agree that everyone has access to the same legal rights. Separate-but-equal doesn't work.

markkraft's comment is a good analysis of Obama's approach to the issue. I believe that Obama will end DOMA and DADT, but he'll do it following the plan he's already set out. I also appreciate his following the balance of powers after eight years of Bush crapping on the Constitution, even if that means this is taking longer than most of us would like.

During the campaign Obama, like pretty much every other major candidate, said he opposed gay marriage, but unlike most candidates he also supported full civil unions that would "give same-sex couples equal legal rights and privileges as married couples." I think this reflects a combination of two things: the political reality that it was probably impossible for a presidential candidate in 2008 to support marital equality, and his personal belief that religious marriage is between men and women. Unlike most politicians, who wear religion on their sleeves but may or may not--and probably don't--actually believe it, I think Obama may be sincere about his religious beliefs.

I don't think Obama's personal feelings about gays (whatever they may be) or his religious beliefs will keep him from doing the right thing. Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson weren't necessarily huge fans of black people, but they did more for racial equality than any other president.

The problem is, the White House has, since inauguration, has been extremely reluctant to go on the record in regards to gay rights, and this issue has been on his desk since February.

Last November people in the Obama transition team said he would "not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010" to repeal DADT, and he would do it by introducing legislation. Last month he wrote a handwritten letter to Sandy Tsao promising to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

the offensiveness of telling a disenfranchised group of people how quickly they should demand equality

MLK: "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


jock@law: If that were the only issue -- whether the brief defines same-sex marriage in the same terms as incest or not, and whether that definition were a core part of the argument of the brief or merely parenthetical -- I might have good reason to feel fairly stupid, but that's not by any means the only issue with the brief.
posted by blucevalo at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2009


Opponents of marital equality often get hung up on the religious meaning of "marriage."

I think it's more accurate to say that they are unwilling or unable to recognize any distinction, or accept that there is such a thing as a civil definition of marriage. However I think that gives right to marry opponents too much credit; there's plenty of them with no serious attachment to religious marriage. They just don't want the gays to have anything resembling validation.
posted by phearlez at 12:41 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Witnessing the fight for civil rights of gay people is an amazingly surreal experience. You know those old scratchy black and white documentaries where you see bigoted politicians make openly racist "arguments" for denying blacks their full civil rights? How wrong that looks? You think about how acceptable that was back then to make such statements, yet how jarring it is today, and how utterly insane it would be if some politician said that today - he'd be tarred and feathered and run out of town. And yet, here we are, listening to hate-and-bigotry filled drivel about gay citizens, and people are not en masse throwing tomatoes at these clowns?! It's like I'm actually living in those black and white scratchy old documentaries right this second.
posted by VikingSword at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, here is an example from a White House press release:
Over the past several months, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of State have conducted internal reviews to determine whether the benefits they administer may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees within the confines of existing laws and statutes. Both identified a number of such benefits.
Why are we hearing about the reviews now two weeks after Clinton already announced those benefits for the State Department, and months after that process was started?

kirkaracha: Last November people in the Obama transition team said he would "not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010" to repeal DADT, and he would do it by introducing legislation. Last month he wrote a handwritten letter to Sandy Tsao promising to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Sure, and then the November statement was quickly contradicted, followed by months of waffling and stonewalling. (Pun not intended.) The Sandy Tsao letter came in the midst of weeks of waffling by Gibbs, and it offers nothing more than, a vague commitment.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:02 PM on June 17, 2009


"The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, or lesbian."
Repeat, then narrow; it's gonna be (on) the test.
posted by cookie-k at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2009


Someone is quite the speed reader, I must say. 4 minutes to read a 50 page document. I'm impressed. It's a shame that when reading so quickly, his comprehension drops so dramatically.

Since you clearly don't understand that giving all the rights of marriage that federal law grants is something that New Jersey has never had the ability to do, you're in no position to talk about a lack of comprehension.
posted by oaf at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2009


As does your glib dismissal.

No, it doesn't.
posted by oaf at 1:37 PM on June 17, 2009


One thing that really annoys me is the way that the "be patient, these things take time" crowd completely ignores the reality of the last big dustup about marriage.

These things *DON'T* take time, or at least not always. In 1968 the American public was opposed to interracial marriage in numbers vastly greater than those opposed to gay marriage today. 72% of Americans opposed interracial marriage in the days before Loving. As of 2006 only 58% of Americans were opposed to same sex marriage.

Loving, a sudden court decision with an "unprepared" public, worked out just fine. I am utterly flabbergasted by the apparent historic ignorance of those who claim that somehow we have to wait for same sex marriage until Joe Redneck is convinced that its a great thing. We don't.

It worked for Loving, it'll work now.

oaf I'm still puzzled by your point. You say that those who argue that separate-but-equal is separate-but-equal are morally equivalent to Pat Robertson? Really?
posted by sotonohito at 2:32 PM on June 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


You say that those who argue that separate-but-equal is separate-but-equal are morally equivalent to Pat Robertson? Really?

No, and if you read my comment, that's not at all what I said. Getting hung up on the word "marriage," like a lot of people on both sides are doing, is counterproductive. Insisting that a (still hypothetical at this point) legal structure that provides every benefit of marriage, but is called by another name, is not enough, even as a middle ground, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

If it actually provides every benefit, it's equal and not separate, unless you go to one clerk to get your marriage license, and a different, poorly funded clerk to get your [name goes here] license. Complaining that it's not called "marriage," so it isn't the same as marriage, is like saying that Massachusetts isn't a state because it's a commonwealth.

I think we will get marriage equality eventually. The way to get there is not to bicker over what it's called. The right way is to get rid of the Defense of Marriage Act and to enforce the full-faith-and-credit clause of the Constitution.
posted by oaf at 2:52 PM on June 17, 2009


oaf, I can agree with what you've said just now, but that's not even close to resembling what you said earlier in the thread.
posted by blucevalo at 3:10 PM on June 17, 2009


to the Obama can't repeal DADT crowd -

he can't do away with it, but he can effectively neuter it with stop-loss and not allow anymore dismissals based on orientation.

i personally think we're better served getting the actual law repealed (so the next president doesn't resume dismissals), but to say that obama doesn't have the power to gay up our military isn't a hard fact.
posted by nadawi at 3:17 PM on June 17, 2009


On chess games and "priorities:

Dad: Well, I can only do one thing at a time. I can either go earn a living for my family or I can NOT beat my children. Since I'd rather have children that are beaten, but haven't starved to death vs. children that are not beaten but ARE starved to death, I guess I'll prioritize my day to choose earning a living. Kids, come here! I can only do one thing at a time, and I choose to earn a living to keep you fed and clothed. Sadly, that means you're getting a beating...

Kids: WTF?

Dad: Sorry...it's all about priorities. You'll understand someday. *takes off belt*
posted by darkstar at 3:28 PM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


oaf wrote Getting hung up on the word "marriage," like a lot of people on both sides are doing, is counterproductive. Insisting that a (still hypothetical at this point) legal structure that provides every benefit of marriage, but is called by another name, is not enough, even as a middle ground, is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So, it would be something *separate* from marriage, but *equal* to marriage. That's what "separate but equal" means.

I do argue that, even as a middle ground, it isn't enough.

Cast your mind back to the days when the issue was interracial marriage. Do you think anyone would have, or should have, settled for reserving the term "marriage" for same race couples while terming interracial couples "legally recognized miscgeneators"?

Separate but equal does not work, and is not a good idea even if it really does approach equality.

That, you may recall, was why Brown was chosen for Brown v Board of Education. To establish that separate but equal, no matter how good the separate facilities are, is never really equal. Brown came from Topeka Kansas, the "colored" schools there were among the best in the nation and really were pretty damn equal to the white only schools. The NAACP knew that the fight must be about the separate part, not the equal part, which is why they chose Brown (equal) rather than any number of black families from Mississippi or Alabama where the black schools were anything but equal.

The goal is not to achieve a separate but equal situation where the equal provisions are truly equal, but, as always, to emphasize that the separate part is inherently wrong and discriminatory.

Which is why I categorically reject any effort to promote a "middle ground" which excludes homosexuals from marriage. It inherently says "you are not really equal, you are not good enough for marriage, you are separate, other, lesser, and while we may reluctantly condescend to grant you the same privileges as marriage remember that you are *NEVER* good enough for real marriage. Now take your 'civil union' and thank your betters for deigning to give you this scrap!"

Like truly equal, but segregated, schools its still a slap in the face and an offense to the very concept of equality.
posted by sotonohito at 4:24 PM on June 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


oaf: seriously, if you're not going to read the findings of the commission I linked to, then you're in no position to comment. Because what that commission has to say, even with a speed-read skim, makes it patently clear that having a separate column of social binding which resembles marriage but which isn't marriage only leads to confusion and denial on behalf of the general populace and ultimately reinforces the second-class status of those who seek to be co-joined without the moniker of "marriage" attached.

And denying that this difference exists outside the Federal recognition of said non-marriage-yet-supposedly-equal unions only ultimately reinforces the fundamental point which was already determined by the SCOTUS back with Brown v. Board Of Education, namely that "separate but equal" is NOT equal.

Presupposing that only federal rights are granted under the title of "marriage" is a strawman. Care to try again with an actual argument? Or will you perhaps actually read what the NJ commission wrote and consider it as a document written by thoughtful individuals who were charged with examining the issue in depth? Because right now, you haven't advanced your case at all.
posted by hippybear at 4:33 PM on June 17, 2009


Ack.. I didn't express that second paragraph very well. Overlook clumsy bits of that and read it with the spirit in which it was intended, rather than literal words.
posted by hippybear at 4:42 PM on June 17, 2009


"It is the mean-spiritedness of that brief, which was not rejected but accepted as representing the views of the current administration, which creates within the GLBT community a sense that they have had the wool pulled over their eyes in order to win an election."

Well, that's the fundamental problem, isn't it? The DOJ is simply interpreting the law based upon the information presented to it... which is garbage, and which both the DOJ *AND* the President want to change.

So basically, you it's a legal issue. And the President? He's a former law professor, who wants the country to deal with the issue by seeing to it that the established legal facts are changed.

Shouldn't you want that too? Would it be safe to proceed without those facts not being changed?

I mean, sure... the President can force things through with an executive order, leading to the Republicans making a big, huge issue out of it, gathering money from people who are openly opposed to your rights and willing to pay for your continued denial-of-rights. And if Obama falters, they're right back into power, and the first thing that their president does is, quite possibly, to remove your rights.

By all means, get angry and get motivated... but don't let your anger be misdirected, because the President does want to sign off on you permanently getting your rights, through the Congress, in a way that changes the entire game, prevents Republicans from fear-mongering against you, and which cannot be easily taken away.

You should want that too, and view it as something worth working for.
posted by markkraft at 4:52 PM on June 17, 2009


The DOJ is simply interpreting the law based upon the information presented to it... which is garbage, and which both the DOJ *AND* the President want to change.

citation?
posted by hippybear at 4:57 PM on June 17, 2009


"it may take a generation or longer for these changes to play out"

The odds are, it will take months and perhaps years, but not a decade.

If you were to ask me when the best time for the legislation to pass would be, I would say "after national health-care does". If I were being really cynical, I would say "after the 2010 election, but before the newly elected people take office", or, if needed, after the 2012 election.

In short, Congress and the President should sign off on it when it can't be used as a campaign issue against them.

You want politicians to do the right thing... and, by and large, they want to as well. But that means that you need to accept what's best for them, for their party staying in power -- which you should want, since you're a supporter of them and their agenda -- and that you need to do what you can to change minds, addressing the matter through Congress, and generally helping make it easy for politicians to do the right thing.
posted by markkraft at 5:07 PM on June 17, 2009


"citation?"

That the President and the DOJ wants to change the policies on these issues? There have been plenty. As I said before:

From the Justice Dept. Spokesman
:
"The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits. However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system."

From a letter from Obama to Lt. Sandy Tsao released to the press in May:

"Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete, partly because it needs congressional action, I intend to fulfill my commitment,
Barack Obama"


There are no doubt plenty of other statements out there saying the same thing... that it's going to happen, but will require legislative action to change the facts the government is operating under, but I don't think I should have to hunt all of them down.
posted by markkraft at 5:17 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


oaf: If it actually provides every benefit, it's equal and not separate, unless you go to one clerk to get your marriage license, and a different, poorly funded clerk to get your [name goes here] license. Complaining that it's not called "marriage," so it isn't the same as marriage, is like saying that Massachusetts isn't a state because it's a commonwealth.

Certainly. But there are two problems here. The simplest way to ensure that it actually does provide every benefit and is not separate is to expand the existing legal concept of marriage to include a new class (the way we did in Loving). Otherwise you have to fight for equality on each and every right and privilege.

The second problem is that conservatives are fibbing when they say it's about words. No, it's about rights, and the wording of many "marriage" amendments prevent the extension of those rights to other unions, and conservatives fight tooth and nail over those rights when demanded.

markkraft: I mean, sure... the President can force things through with an executive order, leading to the Republicans making a big, huge issue out of it, gathering money from people who are openly opposed to your rights and willing to pay for your continued denial-of-rights. And if Obama falters, they're right back into power, and the first thing that their president does is, quite possibly, to remove your rights.

Well again, I don't see that people are demanding that the President force things through with an executive order. What people are demanding is a commitment to a timeline and a process by which these changes will be made. What people are demanding is a good faith indication that these things are in progress. What people are demanding is for the president to go on record about the initiatives that are in congress this year. So far the administration has done a pretty shitty job in managing those expectations.

markkraft: You want politicians to do the right thing... and, by and large, they want to as well. But that means that you need to accept what's best for them, for their party staying in power -- which you should want, since you're a supporter of them and their agenda -- and that you need to do what you can to change minds, addressing the matter through Congress, and generally helping make it easy for politicians to do the right thing.

Well, I disagree that legislative actions are necessarily less vulnerable to conservative outrage. But while the president and congresscritters have to play the game of compromise and real politics, activists don't need to, and in fact, shouldn't.

As an example, I don't believe that Barney Frank would be backing an inclusive ENDA this year, if he had not been savagely criticized for his decision to remove gender identity protections. Holding him accountable for his decisions brought him into the discussions of why those provisions are necessary.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:36 PM on June 17, 2009


seriously, if you're not going to read the findings of the commission I linked to, then you're in no position to comment.

This is false.

I said that New Jersey hadn't provided a "practical experience of 'marriage in everything but name'" to anyone, because it hasn't. States can't do anything that provides all of the benefits to same-sex couples that opposite-sex couples have, even if the arrangement is called "marriage," and will not be able to as long as the Defense of Marriage Act is recognized as valid law. Having an informed opinion on this issue requires recognition of that fact. The New Jersey study is necessarily of two different institutions, even if they're identical under New Jersey law, because other laws apply.

Presupposing that only federal rights are granted under the title of "marriage" is a strawman. Care to try again with an actual argument? Or

No. "Presupposing that only federal rights are granted only under the title of 'marriage'" is your straw man. Insulting me without basis isn't an actual argument.

ericb lists some rights that married couples have that unmarried couples don't. Civil-union couples in New Jersey do not have the right to receive Social Security benefits from deceased spouses, to file joint returns with the IRS, or to sponsor their spouses/fiancé(e)s for immigration to the U.S., just to name a few major ones. However, same-sex married couples in Massachusetts don't have these rights either, even though opposite-sex married couples there do.

Until the federal government recognizes same-sex relationships that grant the same rights as marriage (regardless of the term applied to those relationships), it will be impossible to do any study of "marriage in all but name." I'm not surprised that the New Jersey study of two significantly different things concluded that they were different.

To establish that separate but equal, no matter how good the separate facilities are, is never really equal.

Yes, "in the field of public education." Marriage isn't public education; it's the maintenance of racial segregation that was the problem. Unsurprisingly, different things are different.
posted by oaf at 5:45 PM on June 17, 2009


markkraft: "Thanks for your wonderful and thoughtful letter. It is because of outstanding Americans like you that I committed to changing our current policy. Although it will take some time to complete, partly because it needs congressional action, I intend to fulfill my commitment,
Barack Obama"


Sure, the question that gay rights activists and the gay press keep asking, is the who, what, where, when, and how of the leadership he promised in getting those things through congress. If he feels it needs more thought and time to build a consensus, great, start a committee, commission the impact studies, and give us a timeline for the change process. But letting your Secretary of State upstage you when it comes to handling gay rights is really bad PR.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:46 PM on June 17, 2009


It's worth noting that almost everywhere that legalized same-sex marriage legalized civil unions (or the same thing by a different name) first.

Going halfway, letting people see that the world hasn't ended, and then going the rest of the way seems to have been more successful than demanding everything now, refusing to compromise, and treating anyone who is willing to compromise as a traitor to your cause. The latter is the American way, though, I suppose.
posted by oaf at 5:51 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


In related news: Schwarzenegger says Proposition 8 may violate U.S. Constitution.
posted by ericb at 6:02 PM on June 17, 2009


Powerful commentary by John Aravois:

Well, it seems a trip to the Oval Office is all openly gay congressman Barney Frank needs to stab his community in the back. After criticizing the DOJ's anti-gay DOMA brief this morning, Frank did a 180 this evening and lauded the brief, which invoked incest and pedophilia. Frank now thinks the brief is just super.

Frank claims that he gave a newspaper reporter his negative opinion of the brief without actually having read it.

Did you catch that? Barney Frank, our senior gay elected representative, and a lawyer himself, claims that he was giving legal opinions on a legal brief that he hadn't even read. At least Joe and I, who are also lawyers, read the brief before commenting on it. How many other issues has Barney opined on about which he's been knowingly willfully ignorant? (Of course, I don't believe Frank for a minute - he read the brief, but the president got him to recant.) ...

Never ever underestimate the ability or willingness of a member of Congress of either party to screw his people for a better offer. HRC attends the White House ceremony, Barney Frank lauds a brief comparing us to pedophilia and incest.

We are on our own folks. The Democratic party has abandoned us.

posted by Joe Beese at 6:34 PM on June 17, 2009


Going halfway, letting people see that the world hasn't ended, and then going the rest of the way seems to have been more successful than demanding everything now, refusing to compromise, and treating anyone who is willing to compromise as a traitor to your cause.

It can't much help the cause of compromise when you describe those who disagree as "hav[ing] more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd than they would care to admit."
posted by blucevalo at 6:42 PM on June 17, 2009


Look, I'm as angry about the brief as anybody, but I think Mr. Aravosis is being a little more than hyperbolic. There's a difference between powerful eloquence and hysterical bombast.
posted by blucevalo at 6:44 PM on June 17, 2009


Did you read what Frank actually said? It bears little resemblance to that AmericaBlog post.
“It was my position in that conversation with the reporter that the administration had no choice but to defend the constitutionality of the law. I think it is unwise for liberals like myself, who were consistently critical of President Bush’s refusal to abide by the law in cases where he disagreed with it to now object when President Obama refuses to follow the Bush example. It is the President’s job to try to change the law, but it is also his obligation to uphold and defend it when it has been enacted by appropriate processes. It would not be wise, in my judgment, for those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who sympathize with the fight for our rights, to argue for a precedent that says that executives who disagreed politically with the purpose of the law should have the option of refusing to defend it in a constitutional case.”

“I strongly opposed DOMA when it was adopted and I will continue to fight for changes. I support very strongly the lawsuit brought by the people at Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) that make the cogent argument that DOMA’s provision denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages blatantly violates the equal protection clause. And I will work with the Obama administration as they have promised to do to enact laws protecting LGBT people from hate crimes, from job discrimination, and from discrimination in the military. I will also be critical when I think inappropriate language is used. But after rereading this brief, I do not think that the Obama administration should be subject to harsh criticism in this instance.”
posted by jessamyn at 6:45 PM on June 17, 2009


Thank you, jessamyn.
posted by blucevalo at 6:52 PM on June 17, 2009


Jesus. I understand Aravosis being emotional about the subject, certainly, but he's just gone off the deep end. Americablog's starting to read like a lefty version of RedState.
posted by EarBucket at 7:09 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "Did you read what Frank actually said?"

You mean this part?

When I was called by a newspaper reporter for reaction to the administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, I made the mistake of relying on other people’s oral descriptions to me of what had been in the brief, rather than reading it first. It is a lesson to me that I should not give in to press insistence that I comment before I have had a chance fully to inform myself on the subject at hand.

Where I live, we call that "bullshit".
posted by Joe Beese at 7:55 PM on June 17, 2009


I'd also like to point out that we wouldn't be getting even these crumbs from the table if not for the political pressure created largely by Aravois's coverage of the brief.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:00 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where I live, we call that "bullshit".

Where I live we call it "human".
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on June 17, 2009


John Aravosis did a very good job until he jumped off the diving board into hysterialand. Aravosis also isn't the only person in the world who created pressure by "covering" the brief. The brief was also "covered" very well by Andrew Sullivan, Andy Towle, Daily Kos, Pam Spaulding, John Culhane at Word in Edgewise, and a bunch of other people that I can't list because I can't remember them all.
posted by blucevalo at 9:32 PM on June 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So apparently this wont cover health benefits. Because of DOMA apparently. Pretty weak.
posted by delmoi at 10:38 PM on June 17, 2009


oaf wrote Yes, "in the field of public education." Marriage isn't public education; it's the maintenance of racial segregation that was the problem. Unsurprisingly, different things are different.

And same things are the same, and same sex marriage is the same damn thing as interracial marriage. We didn't go "halfway" with interracial marriage before Loving, we didn't offer interracial couples fake, not really marriages but suck it up miscgeneators and be grateful you can have a "civil union", nonsense. We fought for the prize, not for halfway measures to try and appease the bigots who cannot be appeased, and we got it.

More important we got it from a court decision, not a legislative process. If, back then, people had listened to your advice I guarantee you that I wouldn't have been able to marry my wife back in 2005. Not in Texas.

I say we follow the path that worked in the past: fight for the prize, not "halfway" measures, and go through the courts.

More to the point, I do categorically reject all "halfway" measures. In the second place they *do*not*work. We've seen this time and again, and your insistence that halfway measures do work, coupled with your utter refusal to address the specific instances we have brought up demonstrating that you're wrong is infuriating.

Time and again we've seen same sex couples who have availed themselves of every "halfway" measure they can being harmed by bigots. They've got the forms, the myriad contracts, powers of attorney, etc and bigots still harm them. We've tried it your way oaf, and its simply not working.

Please, take the time and actually read the New Jersey report. New Jersey worked tirelessly to try and make the halfway measures you advocate work, and it fell on its face. Not only did it not provide anything remotely resembling marriage, but since it wasn't marriage bigots everywhere took that as carte blanche to use its "not really marriage" status to harm same sex couples at every opportunity.

In addition, yes, I remain both ideologically and philosophically opposed to any form of halfway measure, any "compromise" here. In many areas compromise is a tolerable thing.

But we're talking about human rights here. You don't, you can't, compromise there. Either people are people and thus get human rights, or they're not. There is no morally defensible middle ground in any issue of human rights.

Further, the other side is not interested in compromise anymore than I am. The Pat Robertsons (and I'd really appreciate an explanation of why you think I'm morally equivalent to that vile person, I find the comparison insulting in the extreme) and their followers are explicitly opposed to compromise. They don't just want to keep the word marriage sacrosanct for straights, they also wish to deny any and all of the rights of marriage to homosexuals. Look at the majority of the anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendments that have passed, they not only forbid marriage but also civil unions and some are so strongly worded that they may forbid any sort of civil contract between homosexuals.

The enemy here does not want compromise. They will not settle for civil unions, and they damn sure won't settle for civil unions knowing full well that we on the side of right, justice, and morality seek merely to use civil unions as a stepping stone to real marriage.

But, last and finally, I do argue that it is *IDENTICAL* to segregation.

As with Brown, and as you recognize there, the problem was not one specific instance of segregation, but the entire institution. So too is it with homosexuality. Marriage is the keystone, but it is not the totality of the argument. We have what amounts to sexual apartheid in America. Homosexuals are at risk of losing jobs, shut out of housing, etc and as with desegregating schools allowing marriage equality will be a watershed moment that allows the forces of good to begin a truly effective pushback against the forces of evil.

We can't do that with the "compromise" of civil unions. By accepting that, by taking that place on the back of the bus, we will have surrendered the whole game. We will have agreed that yes, gay people really aren't as good as straights and they really don't deserve marriage. You don't win by agreeing with the principles of the enemy.
posted by sotonohito at 7:06 AM on June 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


I'd really appreciate an explanation of why you think I'm morally equivalent to that vile person, I find the comparison insulting in the extreme

You won't get one, because I never said that.
posted by oaf at 8:31 AM on June 18, 2009


And, meanwhile, Pat Robertson contributes his repugnant two cents:

"A month to celebrate gay, lesbian, transgender pride month? Somebody's proud of being transgendered? It's a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of our population. One to two percent has this particular orientation, yet they dominate the news. It's just simply amazing. Any country that openly embraces homosexuality throughout the history of mankind has gone down into ruin. That's history. That's the historical record. Whatever nation embraces this so-called lifestyle, it ends up in the garbage heap of history. So, let's watch what happens."

Yes, let's watch what happens.
posted by blucevalo at 9:08 AM on June 18, 2009


Now, with that out of the way…

We didn't go "halfway" with interracial marriage before Loving, we didn't offer interracial couples fake, not really marriages but suck it up miscgeneators and be grateful you can have a "civil union", nonsense. We fought for the prize, not for halfway measures to try and appease the bigots who cannot be appeased, and we got it.

Right, and my point is that it's not within New Jersey's power to grant some of the rights to same-sex couples, no matter the name of the arrangement, that opposite-sex married couples have (as I mentioned above, green-card sponsorship, Social Security benefits, and federal income tax filing status, just to name a few, in addition to the health-insurance benefits the Obama administration says it can't give). Calling it "marriage" doesn't grant those rights to same-sex couples. No report can change this fact as long as the Defense of Marriage Act remains recognized as good law. It needs to be repealed or invalidated by the Supreme Court. Until then, quibbling over semantics ignores the big picture and is counterproductive.

More to the point, I do categorically reject all "halfway" measures. In the second place they *do*not*work.

They don't work? The experience of the Netherlands (the first place where same-sex marriage became legal), Norway, and Sweden indicates otherwise.

your insistence that halfway measures do work

As I've just shown.

coupled with your utter refusal to address the specific instances we have brought up demonstrating that you're wrong is infuriating

Which would those be? (Don't say New Jersey; I've addressed that several times already.)

They've got the forms, the myriad contracts, powers of attorney, etc and bigots still harm them.

A New Jersey civil-union couple's union won't be recognized as marriage or marriage-like when they're in Florida. A Massachusetts same-sex married couple will encounter identical trouble. Why? Because the Defense of Marriage Act allows this to happen. We can't move forward until it goes.

allowing marriage equality will be a watershed moment that allows the forces of good to begin a truly effective pushback against the forces of evil

Roe was decided in 1973. It's 2009, and people are wondering if Sonia Sotomayor could provide the vote that would reverse it. Do you really want that happening with same-sex marriage? We need DOMA to go, and the federal government to get on board. Once enough fence-sitters (including those who are automatically suspicious of judicial rather than legislative grants of rights) see that it's no big deal to allow marriage for all and move to the good side, then the opposition will be just a minor annoyance.

But until the federal government gets on board, it doesn't matter what it's called, because it won't provide equal rights.

We can't do that with the "compromise" of civil unions.

History says otherwise.
posted by oaf at 9:18 AM on June 18, 2009


oaf You are correct, I suppose, you wrote The people who insist that it's automatically unequal if it's not called "marriage" have more in common intellectually with the Pat Robertson crowd that they would care to admit.

I'm still not seeing the connection between me and Robertson though. Could you please expand?

Yes, we do need DOMA to go. No argument at all. I'm with you on that one 100%.

What I don't see is how you go from "we need to get rid of DOMA" to "therefore we should settle for halfway measures like civil unions". That's where I'm baffled.

I think comparisons between Roe and gay marriage are iffy. In large part because, whether they know it or not, polling indicates that the vast majority of Americans support the three tier system established by Roe. I'll admit, freely, that the anti-choice groups have been very successful at convincing people that Roe is "abortion on demand up to birth". But despite decades of lies from the anti-choicers most Americans are on board with abortion rights.

As of the most recent Gallup poll, from just this month, only 28% of Americans want Roe overturned. 52% support abortion rights in all or most cases, and only 20% want abortion illegal in all cases. in a different poll 22% supported abortion in all circumstances, and 53% said that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances.

We are not looking at a nation deeply split over Roe, or eager to overturn Roe. The only reason Roe is even in play, at all, is due to the efforts of a tireless group of misogynists.

More to the point, the current opposition to Roe is relatively new. Contrary to the lies told by the anti-choicers Roe did not suddenly spur reluctant preachers to political action, and America didn't feel that the Court had usurped the proper powers of the legislature. Immediately following its passage Roe was largely non-controversial. Most Protestants saw no problem with Roe, including most Protestant ministers.

At the time opposition to abortion was largely viewed by American Protestants as a Catholic thing, and therefore suspect by definition.

Yes, Roe has *become* contentious, and yes long after the fact the forces of misogyny were able to stir up the illusion that the Court usurped the legislature, but that's purely the result of a very well thought out campaign of misinformation. History shows us that it took quite some time for the anti-choicers to get any momentum behind their efforts to paint Roe in that light.

More important the anti-choicers have some really great, gory, photos to wave around and a hell of a slogan. "Adam and Steve" and pictures of guys in tuxedos kissing doesn't create near the sort of visceral response that "abortion kills" and pictures of dismembered fetuses do.

So a) Roe isn't really divisive, and b) while same sex marriage may be divisive it doesn't have the same potential that abortion does. Hell, even the rich tradition of fear of black men having sex with white women didn't do much for the forces of bigotry after Loving, if they couldn't work with that to get the decision reversed I can't see how they can succeed with gay marriage.
posted by sotonohito at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2009


What I don't see is how you go from "we need to get rid of DOMA" to "therefore we should settle for halfway measures like civil unions". That's where I'm baffled.

Until DOMA goes, it doesn't matter what you call it—same-sex marriage is still a halfway meaasure. Full marriage rights are simply unavailable to same-sex couples as long as we have a law on the books that says
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
Ultimately, it's going to take repeal or invalidation of this law, and aggressive enforcement of the full-faith-and-credit clause, to get all MA/CT/VT/NH/ME/IA marriages recognized in all 50 states.

Meanwhile, I think the best approach is to get enough people to realize that no harm will come if we allow same-sex marriage, so that when it finally is made legal, all but a tiny minority will shrug, think, "Yeah, that makes sense," and then move on with their lives. In this case, halfway is better than nothing.
posted by oaf at 10:49 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are no doubt plenty of other statements out there saying the same thing

No doubt. However I'm going to stick with my policy of judging politicians based on what they actually do rather than what they say they'd like to do. You're free to use your own metrics.
posted by phearlez at 11:01 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Law Dork, 2.0: Chairman Frank and Aravosis’s Misstatements.
posted by ericb at 6:04 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


John Aravosis on CBS News: Washington Unplugged.
posted by ericb at 6:07 PM on June 18, 2009


ericb, thanks for the Law Dork link. That man "gets it."
posted by jock@law at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2009


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