Yes, Andrew Sullivan, you hit the nail on the head this time. Emphasis mine:
And it's tedious to whine and jump up and down and complain when a wand isn't waved and everything is made right by the first candidate who really seemed to get it, who was even able to address black church congregations about homophobia. And obviously patience is necessary; and legislative work takes time; and there are real challenges on so many fronts, especially the economy and the legacy of war crimes and the permanently restive Iraqi and Afghan regions we are constantly in the process of liberating from themselves. No one expects a president to be grappling with all this early on, or, God help us, actually leading on civil rights. That's our job, not his.
But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.
Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).
And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada.
This administration is a welcome relief on many fronts from the danger presented by McCain/Palin, but he and his team have made it loud and clear that not only must we "be patient" but we are not to expect any support or comment from from this White House as equality blooms in legal landmark fashion around the country.
What would be welcome is a president willing to discuss our issues openly so they can be debated honestly. He's now silent. On purpose. Or worse, sending out his press secretary to fumble before the press corps with bullsh*t answers.
More below the fold.
You might recall an earlier post when I told you all that an LGBT reporter I know called the White House to ask for a statement about marriage equality passing in Vermont, the official word --
Yep, he's set his own trap with the absurd position that he has to now politically defend, even as his stance that civil unions are somehow equivalent to marriage keeps getting shot down as states and courts say otherwise. This administration is behind the curve now, and it's happy to be there and let us twist in the wind, and in Andrew Sullivan's case, confronting this situation:
I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).
As with the discharge of service members under DADT on his watch, the President doesn't mind writing a note to a booted 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao to say "committed to changing our current policy" (but I'm dumping you anyway).
And that's while our nation's military continues to accept felons, gang-members and white supremacists because it can't fill its ranks. Obviously national security isn't a priority for this administration, or he'd at least talk about it.
As I posted earlier, it's not as though his hands are completely tied on DADT. He has chosen not to pursue tools at his disposal.
A new report released today, "How to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell': A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment," sponsored by the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, clearly presents a way the President can stop the discriminatory discharge of gay and lesbian service members without Congress passing a law.
...1) Under the law "the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States" during a "period of national emergency." The statute specifically defines a "national emergency" as a time when "members of a reserve component are serving involuntarily on active duty."
2) Don't Ask, Don't Tell grants to the Defense Department authority to determine the process by which discharges will be carried out, saying they will proceed "under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense... in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulation."
3) Don't Ask, Don't Tell calls for the discharge of service members "if" a finding of homosexuality is made, but it does not require that such a finding ever be made. According to the study, these provisions mean that the Pentagon, not Congress, has the "authority to devise and implement the procedures under which those findings may be made."
It's ridiculous to hear straight fellow progressives try to make excuses for President Obama about this. No one in the LGBT community that I know is saying these issues are more important than the economy, or a host of issues that affect us all. The fact they cannot deny is that he's not only not doing anything, he doesn't want to even discuss the matter. Is that not problematic?
It costs no time or votes to slap down the obvious use of his "one man, one woman, leave it to the states" position by the fringe right to fundraise to try to roll back marriage equality. All we receive is silence, or rather, "No Comment."
* What's My Sex? What's My Gender? - And Other US Census Related LGBT Thoughts