The irony is rich. A Republican gay group sues to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in federal court and wins; the administration of our “fierce advocate” Barack Obama defends the law and loses. Is anyone noticing a pattern here?
It is an echo of when, in 2009, the Obama administration in court defended the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton, as a protection against incest.
Libertarians and Republicans are taking a leadership role in equality as Democrats punt.
Despite controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, Democrats are unable or unwilling to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and have instead resorted to letting the Pentagon issue insulting questionnaires that even involve spouses to decide the issue.
In contrast, conservatives and libertarians are moving forward based on principle. In the latest installment, Log Cabin Republicans filed suit against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2004 and they won, just a few days ago. On Sept. 9, a United States District judge in California ruled that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional. Specifically, the ruling states that the policy violates both the Constitution’s First Amendment right of free speech and the Fifth Amendment right of due process.
Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, had this to say:
“The Obama administration has found itself to the right of many conservatives on marriage equality and open military service. Log Cabin Republicans is joined by former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Ambassador John Bolton. We are conspiring to protect our country and uphold the Constitution.”
The constitutional case for equality is strong, and is being most effectively advanced by conservatives. Former George W. Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson is leading the American Foundation for Equal Rights, whose primary purpose is to overturn California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage. They won in California, and Olson, with co-litigator Democrat David Boies, is probably going to the Supreme Court.
And why is Human Rights Campaign and its $30 million budget absent in this fight? No one doubts that HRC’s employees are passionate, competent and committed to equality. The leadership is the problem. Going to cocktail parties at the White House and having a “seat at the table” have not produced change.
HRC is also increasingly engaged in coalition politics that distract from our important, immediate mission of equality. The last three e-mail blasts I have received from HRC were: 1. a call to boycott Arizona; 2. a call to boycott Target; and, 3. a call for gay volunteers to assist Latino immigrants gain citizenship.
HRC has not called volunteers to focus on the one immigration issue that affects gays: the fact that our partners cannot immigrate to the U.S.
As to our “fierce defender” — he is against marriage equality and always was. A few days before the Prop 8 election in 2008, this quote appeared on the front page of the New York Times: “As a Christian — he is a member of the United Church of Christ — Mr. Obama believes that marriage is a sacred union, a blessing from God, and one that is intended for a man and a woman exclusively, according to these supporters and Obama campaign advisers. While he does not favor laws that ban same-sex marriage, and has said he is ‘open to the possibility’ that his views may be ‘misguided,’ he does not support it and is not inclined to fight for it.”
We need to engage all Americans in the fight for equality, including Republicans and straight people. We are a small minority that has been traditionally marginalized and discriminated against. The more allies that we can get, the better. We don’t have to agree on every political point so long as we agree that the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. And, increasingly, conservatives are our friends, as they get that.