A friend writes:
After watching Obama's speech last night, and your reaction, I have to say "I told you so..."
Remember during the campaign, when I was still in the Hillary camp and you were in your "1980's television evangelist" phase for Obama, I said to you something like "How can he do all of these things he is promising AND end the culture of partisanship in Washington. Being bipartisan necessarily means compromise. Which of his platform promises will you be willing to compromise?"
And guess what? We're the compromise. Again.
Why has he not ended DADT? Because it would piss the hell out of the right, and regarding one of their primary core constituencies, the military and those who fetishize them. He wants to continue working with the right, so he's loathe to piss them off.
What you seem to be calling for is for him to stand on principle and above politics to do what is morally right, even if that brands him as an unreconstructed lefty. You want him to take advantage of his election mandate and a sympathetic (er, you know what I mean) Congress to do what WE want him to do. In other words, be a liberal lefty partisan on gay issues. So bipartisanism is all well and good, unless we don't like what comes of it; the truth is, we cannot expect anything beyond anodyne policy from such fundamental compromise. Hate to say it, but in this country civil rights issues are as partisan as they get, as the right has zero record on such issues...
I take the point, although the GOP a long, long time ago did have a record on civil rights, before they sacrificed it for the Southern strategy. But my disagreement with my friend is that DADT is now opposed by three quarters of the country. And defending the right of soldiers to do their job without fear of discrimination is not, by any means, "liberal lefty partisan". What my friend reflects is a failure of nerve - or a resignation to fear - in the face of an extreme fringe of haters whose power is amplified primarily by all those who still fear them,
I do not fear them.
I know we're right. And we can end this hideous military policy in a way that will only be made furiously partisan by the far right. So let them. So many still seem to think it's forever 1993. It isn't. And our job as gay people and straight people who favor decent treatment for gay servicemembers is not to provide excuses for inaction, or to echo Clinton's "false hope" warning but to demand our equality in a voice that cannot be dismissed as "liberal lefty" and can only be seen as patriotic.
They called King a communist. Do you think that made him more patient? Do you think that made him less adamant about the fierce urgency of now? The only way past this is through it. And when you show you have lost the nerve, as HRC has, you have lost half the battle. Well, some of us want to fight that battle and win it, not provide excuses for those who won't fight at all.
The message from HRC last night was: we'll get back to you in 2017, and can we have cocktails at the White House again soon? The message from the march today was: we are human beings, whose dignity and equality waits for no one. I stand with the marchers. And I will never apologize for or regret supporting a candidate who said he'd keep his promises on civil rights. I just intend to be in his face every day until he does.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.