Paradoxes

How Can Obama Want to Repeal DOMA But Keep Marriage Out of Federal Government?

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Joining Queerty, it’s beautiful to see more mainstream press operatives calling out President Obama on his empty promises to gays. Welcome Washington Post columnist and MSNBC analyst Eugene Robinson to the fold. WaPo:

Before his inauguration, President Obama called himself a “fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.”

[…] It seems to me that equality means equality, and either you’re for it or you’re not. I believe gay marriage should be legal, and it’s hard for me to imagine how any “fierce advocate of equality” could think otherwise.

Obama sensibly advocates the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He should press the case by publicly reminding opponents of letting gays serve openly in the military that their arguments — it would hurt morale, damage cohesion and readiness, discourage reenlistment — are often the same, almost word for word, as the arguments made 60 years ago against racial integration in the armed forces. It was bigotry then, and it’s bigotry now.

Obama should also make the obvious case that forcibly discharging capable, fully trained servicemen and servicewomen for being gay, at a time when our overstretched military is fighting two big wars, can only be described as insane.

What the president shouldn’t do is stay away from the marriage debate on the grounds that it’s not a matter for the federal government. For one thing, he’s on record as favoring repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — a law that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages and relieved states of any obligation to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.

And speaking of DOMA? NYT:

Currently about one-third of companies with more than 500 employees offer domestic partner benefits. That’s up from about 12 percent in 2000, according to a study from Mercer, an employee benefits consulting firm. But the percentage drops off sharply when smaller employers are counted, Ms. Hudson said.

And there is no provision for domestic partner benefits for federal employees, although there are some legislative efforts to change that. Some states and municipalities offer their employees domestic partner coverage, depending on the state laws.

Even if the relationship is formalized with the state in a marriage or union, that does not always obligate the employer to cover a same-sex spouse. For one thing, self-insured employers are not regulated by the states.

And other benefit-providing employers that choose not to offer such coverage can sometimes use the Defense of Marriage Act — a law that forbids the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage — to trump state laws, said Ilse de Veer, a principal with Mercer.