It’s Time to Stonewall Obama
by Jennifer Vanasco
First published in the Chicago Free Press on June 17, 2009
It is starting to seem like a tautology that if the Obama administration is asked to weigh in on a question of gay rights, then it will come down on the wrong side.
It happened again last week.
Obama’s Department of Justice crafted a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act that used all of the arguments of the anti-gay Right. Heterosexual marriages are “traditional,” it said. Denying federal recognition to legal state marriages doesn’t hurt anyone, it said. States don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed by other states just like they don’t have to recognize a marriage between an uncle and his niece, it said.
We do not have a “friend in the White House.”
We do not have a “fierce advocate.”
What we have is an enemy.
He is, sure, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wearing a glittering costume embroidered with “Hope,” “Change” and empty promises. He is master of doublespeak, saying that he is against DOMA yet not protesting when a Bush-holdover presses a poison dagger of a marriage brief into our chests; he says he supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but has yet to issue a Stop-Loss order to keep hunted gays and lesbians in their military jobs.
Leave gay rights to the states, he says. Leave them to Congress.
Barack Obama is no longer hurting us with benign neglect. Barack Obama’s administration is now actively attacking us.
If George W. Bush had responded this way to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, we would be rising in the streets. We would be protesting in front of the White House.
"Barack Obama has forgotten, perhaps, that we are human beings with families. He perhaps has made the erroneous assumption that we will wait our turn humbly, hats in hand, until he decides to be beneficent in the waning days of a second term. We need to show him that we will not."Barack Obama is not our friend. He is not our fierce advocate. He is someone who used our vulnerability and hope to get elected.
Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote a beautiful letter to the White House expressing just this sense of betrayal. “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones,” he wrote.
Barack Obama has forgotten, perhaps, that we are human beings with families. He perhaps has made the erroneous assumption that we will wait our turn humbly, hats in hand, until he decides to be beneficent in the waning days of a second term.
We need to show him that we will not.
The world is a different place than it was five years ago or even six months ago. Establishment Republicans — Dick Cheney! Joe Bruno in New York! — are now coming out in favor of gay marriage. A majority of Americans favor the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Gay and lesbian civil rights are no longer a fringe issue. And gays and lesbians are no longer a minority who will be placated with hate crimes legislation in lieu of full and equal rights.
There will always be urgent issues competing for a President’s attention. That’s what being President is. But those other issues shouldn’t make us back down. In fact, they should make us fight harder.
Health care? DOMA might make it impossible for our spouses to be our dependents in a federal health care program. The economy? Our families would certainly be better off if the money we paid to Social Security could go to our loved ones if we passed before they did. The war? America would have a stronger fighting force if it stopped ejecting perfectly qualified, long-serving soldiers just because they are gay.
We must stop giving Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. It is time to show him that we will not support a second term, that we will not support the Democratic Party, if this continues. We will not give a dollar of our money. We will not give an hour of our time.
We will Stonewall him and his administration. The time for being treated as the equal Americans we are has come, and we will not be pushed aside.