Obama is not our advocate
This post is not about whether or not Obama has been a good president, just whether or not he’s lived up to his campaign promise of being a “fierce advocate” for LGBT rights. Here’s a hint: he hasn’t.
His administration decided today to appeal the recent court decision that ruled the military’s ludicrous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy unconstitutional. As the New York Times reports,
In a 48-page court filing, Clifford L. Stanley, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, argued that the military, particularly in wartime, should not be required to “suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years.” Mr. Stanley said the injunction would disrupt efforts to prepare for a more orderly repeal of the policy.
“The stakes here are so high, and the potential harm so great, that caution is in order,” he said.
This reasoning is completely specious. Many other countries have allowed gays and lesbians into the military without any ill effects, and it’s not as if the U.S. military has some byzantine policy set up it would have trouble dismantling. It kicks out service members who admit to being gay and doesn’t allow others to join, but… it could just stop.
Obama campaigned on getting rid of DADT, and even though today he took active steps to keep the policy in place, he’s still making empty promises about doing away with it. In a town hall meeting where he said he agreed that everyone should have the right to serve, he added this:
“It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now. But this is not a question of whether the policy will end. This policy will end, and it will end on my watch. But I do have an obligation to make sure that I’m following some of the rules. I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there. I’ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.”
As Dan Savage points out, it’s not unheard of for the Department of Justice to let these kinds of rulings stand without appeal when the law is an unjust one. DADT has been ruled unconstitutional on what appears to be solid legal ground, and it’s a huge waste of resources for us to expel qualified service members and to deny others when we sorely need them. And while public opinion is never enough to justify discrimination, it is a good indicator of where people stand, and a solid majority of the population agrees it’s time for DADT to end (54% for repeal vs. 35% against).
It’s heartbreaking how quickly the Democrats have expended their political capital without addressing any major LGBT issues. We got federal hate crimes protection that’s barely used, and some federal employees can now get certain benefits for this partners, but that’s absolute peanuts compared to what we’re still waiting for. With the party facing heavy losses as the midterm elections roll around, I can only marvel and how little political progress we’ve made.