Saturday, August 27, 2011

Obama 11 October 2009

Consider carefully the comments by the President then and also, the insights/comments of the various panelists on the interview. Specifically, consider the comments on the Employment Non Discrimination Act.

Lt. Dan Choi begins his trial on Monday 29 August 2011 for his part in a protest at the White House that helped bring national attention (and move members of Congress) to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. He is being prosecuted by the Executive branch of government that is headed by Obama.


Tal said...

I remember Obama stating a couple of months ago that "I've met my commitment to the LGBT community." I think this video clip amply shows that he has not.

Out of the entire list Obama presented, to my knowledge, he's only accomplished one: the repeal of DADT, and even that came at arms length and after significant delay. The decision not to enforce DOMA is at best a half victory, as the law still very much remains in force at the Federal level and through every agency of the Executive Branch (a sorry result given the Justice Department's conclusion that it's unconstitutional). (With luck, a federal appeals court may finally get to review the statute in toto and declare it unconstitutional, but certainly, the Administration is not leading the charge on this one.)

Bottom line, Obama has said lovely things to court the LGBT vote. And I'm grateful for his willingness to associate with our community, which even now is frequently treated like a leper colony. But his position should not be confused with moral bravery or certitude. His positions in terms of policy have generally been "safe"--a far cry from the Civil Right Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or even the bold desegregation of the armed services by Truman or the decisive executive orders of Eisenhower forcing integration of schools.

All said and done, I believe Obama is something of a "Ho-Hum President." Poor and directionless on the economy, while on those matters that should have been great accomplishments for a President who taught constitutional law, lackluster and low key appear to be the orders of the day. That's why I believe a nation, and even many in his own party, now appear to be casting around for something more.

My only hope is that our wins won't be unwound if a Republican wins the next election, which seems increasingly likely. Let's hope their positions are less principled and more pragmatic, to placate the GOP base rather than serve some warped notion of who God is and what God wants.

Anonymous said...

I believe I understand everyones frustration with the slow movement and repeal of these unjust and unconstituional laws...however there is a legal process and it is not just the President...I do not believe harrasment is beneficial to the GLBT fight for legal rights and exceptance in all phases of the law...I too would like to see changes happen more quickly.

I am a gay man 3 months from turning 75. Trust me as bad as it still is it is a 1000% better then when I was younger and so afraid.

Are you as a community at there working for justice or just sittin behind a computer complaining things are too slow and this man is wrong.

Please!! this is the first President that has made any hopeful responses to the GLBT community....stop the whing and do your part.

May the God of your choice
bless you

Fr Vince

Father Geoff said...

Dear Fr. Vince,

You make several points in your comment. First, yes, things are 1000% better than when you (and I) were younger. However, that improvement is not merely a function of the passing of time, but of people who put themselves on the line and PUSHED for things to get better. I am not directing this at you personally, but rather at a disquieting attitude that I have found on the part of some members of our community.

Dr. King said that, “the arc of history bends towards justice.” Sadly, there are many that take that insight as a justification for personal inaction. Someone else, somewhere else will stand-up and speak-out, I merely have to wait. NO, as the Dali Lama said, “Everything is on YOUR shoulders!” You and I must stand-up and speak-out, or we become accomplices to the very injustice from which we suffer.

Secondly, this clearly suggests a sense of urgency. Just re-read the stories of the many young people who committed suicides last year because they suffered injustice and felt no hope was in sight. Not only must we stand-up and speak-out, we must do so YESTERDAY. Lives are at stake here, not least of which is your own. Asking someone to live in a state of injustice for one day is wrong. Expecting people to do so is to become an accomplice to that very injustice.

Thirdly, you state, this is the first President that has made any hopeful response to the GLBT community. Well, not really, I believe that was Bill Clinton. That said, however, Obama did sign the repeal of DADT, but make no mistake, that was done despite his feet dragging. Obama is not, as he claims, our “fierce advocate.” If he were, he would have supported former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her attempt to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA] in the summer of 2010, Obama chose not do so. He would have never allowed his Secretary of Defense Gates to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in favor of postponing the repeal of DADT in the summer of 2010.

Let me state this bluntly, Obama is not our friend. He is a politician who carefully calculates what is politically optimal for him in his bid for re-election. That does not mean that we cannot use him to further the cause of our equality. However, we have to push him, threaten him and in Obama’s own words, “put his feet to the fire.” Our issue aside, Obama is probably the least effective President since Jimmy Carter. Unlike Carter, who was a man of deep personal integrity, Obama increasingly reveals himself to be a politician (with all the pejoratives that apply to that title.)

Take for example his statement on Marriage Equality that his position is “evolving.” Make no mistake; his “evolution” on this ethical matter is directly linked to voter polls.

The progress we have made under this administration is due to the sacrifices of members of our community and their impact on popular understandings and opinions and NOT on Barack Obama. He owes us; we most certainly do not owe him.

As far as comparing him to previous Presidents is concerned, that is not a hard standard to meet. Again, it is due to what our community has done at Stonewall, ACT-UP and countless sacrifices ranging from protests to deaths, like Matthew Shepard. If anything, Obama needs to explain to us why he failed us on ENDA and why he dragged his feet on DADT.

He actually makes Ron Paul look good, at least Paul is a man with a backbone and a sense of integrity who would repeal the Patriot Act and make good on Obama’s false and empty promise to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.


Fr. Geoff

Tal said...

Fr. Geoff, I think you're exactly on target. Just to assure Fr. Vince, I wasn't commenting on where we are compared to where we were. Clearly, we are better off now than probably any time since before the fall of the Roman Empire (at least in the Western context).

Having someone in the White House who openly talks about our issues without malice is good. Certainly, it could never cause harm. But it's the follow through that's so disappointing.

Even now, the Administration persists in fighting the Log Cabin Republican's over DADT, with the argument that the case is "moot" because of the pending repeal, even though there are many service members who have wrongfully been denied the benefits of their service following their unconstitutional and discriminatory discharges.

I also find the continued prosecution of Choi an unhappy thing. The vehicle used to prosecute him and the others who stood up and said something at the White House gates are little used citations, in this case directed against the First Amendment. How about a tad of prosecutorial discretion?

I honor and respect those who've stood up, who've put their own interests on the line and who've born witness to the truth with themselves. You continue to make life a whole lot easier for the rest of us.

Thank you.