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Consolation Prize for Gays

Tossing a bone to a gay community that is increasingly frustrated by his failure to keep his key campaign promises to them, President Obama today will sign a presidential memo extending some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

The Los Angeles Times says that will include health benefits; the New York Times says it won't. But in either case, it's both an important milestone for the gay community -- and a transparent sop highly unlikely to satisfy the growing anger.

Mark Z. Barabak and Jessica Garrison write for the Los Angeles Times that Obama's action

comes days after the Obama administration sparked outrage by filing a legal brief defending the law forbidding federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Obama opposed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act during his presidential campaign....

As a candidate for president, Obama was a staunch supporter of gay and lesbian rights. He called for repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act and also the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces. He promised to help lead the fight.

Since taking office, however, Obama has disappointed many gay activists by not just keeping silent but, lately, by defending some of the policies he criticized.

Jeff Zeleny writes in the New York Times that

administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups. Several gay donors withdrew their sponsorship of a Democratic National Committee fund-raising event next week, where Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is scheduled to speak.

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe predicts the move "should ease some of the bad feelings from liberals and gay rights groups."

But prominent gay blogger John Aravosis writes otherwise:

[B]ecause of Obama's inaction on his main presidential campaign promises to our community...we have a scenario in which gays will get fewer benefits than their straight colleagues, and some gay federal employees will get benefits (civilians) while others (military) will not. See how complicated it gets to do anything when you fail to keep your basic promises?

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 17, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
 
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Next: Obama's New Road Rules May Fall Short

Comments

"The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe predicts the move 'should ease some of the bad feelings from liberals and gay rights groups.'"

"We already gave you your own water fountains - what more do you people want from us?"

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 17, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I have many gay friends. But most Americans do not support this extra tax burden. How does our President just go about doing what he wants not what the people want?

This is my tax dollars. He has zero authority to spend my dollars without my consent. I am being stolen from.

Posted by: debmries | June 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"He has zero authority to spend my dollars without my consent. I am being stolen from".

where were you when Bush spent any possible surplus on two wars and huge tax cuts for the rich and super rich?

Obama is the chief executive. he can spend the money that congress appropriates. you got a problem with that, talk to your senator and congressman. your consent, like mine, is at the ballot box.

Posted by: johannesrolf | June 17, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

LOL, BigTunaTim. Good shot.

President George W. Obama should issue a statement that while he is for transparency, "everything has to be kept secret at this time because it will be used by our enemies to recruit gays for pedophilia."

Posted by: dickdata | June 17, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"But most Americans do not support this extra tax burden. "

What extra tax burden? How is it different than if they decided to marry an opposite-sex partner, the benefits for which your taxes would pay? This is a nonsense argument.

Posted by: cabridges | June 17, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The danger here is not, will the gay and lesbian population vote Republican next time around, but will they sit on their hands and ignore the Obama 2012 campaign? If Obama frustrates and disappoints enough of his believers--as he seems to be on track to doing--then they will never recreate the powerhouse vote-getting ground team they had in 2008, and he may end up a one-term president after all.

The moral of the story? You can't let your friends twist in the wind forever. Sooner or later, they'll write you off.

Posted by: dbitt | June 17, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

debmries, hate to tell you this, but you have extremely little say in how your tax money is spent and no say over whether you will or won't pay it.

He has the authority to spend your money because he is the President. That's what he gets to do. You can dislike how your tax money is spent and you can write to Congress to complain-- but that's about the limit of what you can do.

Posted by: dbitt | June 17, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Hm. Looking at the brief objectively, it's not accepting the sentiments of the DOMA, but it *is* saying that based on what is written elsewhere, states that do not recognize gay marriages don't have to accept gay marriages performed in states that do.

I don't like it, believe me, but unfortunately, there is no legal standing in that suit, so the brief in that context is correct. The suit would have to be dismissed for that reason.


I think the repealing of DOMA will be punted to Congress. That's not ideal, but it will be harder to overturn that way. We'll get there.

Posted by: owl1 | June 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"debmries, hate to tell you this, but you have extremely little say in how your tax money is spent and no say over whether you will or won't pay it."

You could check that little box to allocate $3 for public election financing.

Although I doubt anyone will ever use public financing again.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 17, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who uses any reference to "my money" in a public policy discussion deserves a good hard kick between the legs. That's trite emotionalism and a diversion.

And there is no cost to taxpayers for gays getting married and none of serious consequence in extending the same benefits to same-sex partners.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | June 17, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

***intended to help contain the growing furor among gay rights groups**

Make that "growing FURY."

Groups supporting equal rights for gays have supported Obama [and Democrats] and expected far better than this sell-out -- particularly the crass and insulting language used by the DOJ in its defense of the DOMA.

I don't know if it's because Obama fears offending homophobic blacks, or if he just can't see how wrong it is to deny gay Americans equal rights, but he's wrong and cowardly on this issue.

Of course, he's wrong and cowardly on an awful lot of issues. FISA comes immediately to mind.

Posted by: Mauimom | June 18, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Obama got the money and votes from the LGBT community when he was running for office, but now he wants everyone to just shut up and go away (until he wants some more money). In the mean time, he has no intention whatsoever to work for equal rights for the LGBT. He's got his, now everybody else can take a hike.

A stab in the back?! Shocking! That's NEVER happened before...

Posted by: mgloraine | June 18, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

@mgloraine et al:

Oh, come on now...

Think about it: if (as a legislator) you manage to get laws passed that include all issues apart from actual marriage, it's going to be harder for opponents to argue that denying gay marriage rights is acceptable. (Of course, you'll never get rid of bigots entirely, but you'll have taken away all the legal shields that they have now.)

Wait and see. It's coming.

Posted by: owl1 | June 18, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I think that with the pathetic performance of the Democratic Party and the seeming desire of the GOP to become the KKK in adult diapers there is space for a third party that for a time could actually live up to its promises. I'm thinking a Bull Moose kind of party that would focus on the constitution, demanding equal rights for all and getting away from complete and overt domination by corporate sleazery. America stood for something in the world's eye for a long time, even though we didn't really live up to our promise we at least made slow, hard progress. With Obama's decline perhaps a third party is the answer. He failed on FISA, gay rights, ending the wars and bringing the troops homw, transparency, ending torture, ending unconstitutional military commissions, habeas corpus, and now right wing domestic terrorists are running rampant. Congress has taken a big dump as well, too big to list, but Lieberman is still in there sleazing his way around, while the GOP is still too busy boffing the help to write a budget or health care plan. Broken! Fix! Now!

Posted by: sparkplug1 | June 18, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: debmries | June 17, 2009 1:26 PM


Debmries, I'm sorry, but please explain how that is unfair to you, when Gay and Lesbians are having their tax dollars go to supporting straight marriage benefits?

Why is it wrong when it's YOUR money, but so right when it's OUR money?

I think that's called hypocrisy.

Posted by: robrexus | June 19, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

owl1 typed: "Think about it: if (as a legislator) you manage to get laws passed that include all issues apart from actual marriage, it's going to be harder for opponents to argue that denying gay marriage rights is acceptable. (Of course, you'll never get rid of bigots entirely, but you'll have taken away all the legal shields that they have now.)"

Roe v Wade gave women all the rights for choice. Over the next 35 years those rights have been taken away by legislation and terrorism.

"Wait and see. It's coming." You wait and see.
So many people, as they did with blacks and women, counsel wait and see. The line from Brown v Board of Ed is "with all deliberate speed." What blacks got was a lot of deliberate and very little speed.

Finally, Obamalamadingdongs have been saying, "give him time." but he has been taking that time to:
Work against accountability for torture
Work against gay rights
Expand the wars
Work against women's rights
Work against labor
Expanding secrecy
Proposing a preventive detention system
and so much more.
No more time to wait.

Posted by: michtom | June 21, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

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