The Courage Of A Clinton


Marc reports on Obama's LGBT priorities. Obama's view on protecting gay servicemembers from harrassment and random firing is best summed up by the phrase "the fierce urgency of whenever":

The preferred route, I am told, is to build consensus. Obama would appoint a panel to study the issue and then wait until after the 2010 elections when there would (could) be more Democratic Senators.

I wonder how Obama would have felt if Truman had followed the same path of cowardice and convenience in 1948, when racial integration was far more contentious in the military than gay integration is today. Or whether he would have applauded if the NAACP had decided that inter-racial marriage was too big a step for them in 1967 and they'd be content with calling it a "civil union." On the matter of civil rights in his own time, alas, the first black president has so far demonstrated the courage of a Clinton.

I'm struck by how many Republicans are still wedded to discrimination, even after so much evidence has been assembled revealing it to be counter-productive and based on nothing but prejudice and fear. They are the real culprits here. As for the Democrats, they seem permanently scarred by 1993, unable to move a measure that would help retain skilled service members at a time of great strain and remove a hideous burden from many patriotic Americans serving their country. The polls also show massive public support - but we have a large lobby group, HRC, apparently unable to pass laws that are backed by vast majorities of Americans. Forget DADT. If a lobby has been unable to pass their core legislative priority - ENDA - that has support of well over 70 percent for two decades, why should we hope for real change at a federal level?

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I know that Christianism has gotten a grip on the military under Bush and that the GOP is now wedded to the notion that gays are to be ostracized or never mentioned. I know too that avoiding high drama culture war battles is a priority in this climate. And I know the Obama peeps are trying to move ahead on some basic recognition of gay couples at a federal level and are working on some executive orders and regulations (such as the HIV immigration ban) that are worth supporting and applauding. But these service members are serving their country with decency, professionalism and honor. The way they are still treated is a disgrace, and the insult to their service is a deep and dreadful one. End it. Treat them finally as the heroes they truly are.

(Photo: Amy Martin helps to plant hundreds of American flags displayed on the National Mall as part of a campaign by gay rights lobbying groups including the Log Cabin Republicans, Liberty Education Forum, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and the Human Rights Campaign November 30, 2007 in Washington, DC. The groups planted the flags on the anniversary of the signing of the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' law, with one American flag for each soldier discharged from military service due to their sexuality. By Win McNamee/Getty.)