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


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.

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  • Nitesurf

    No more excuses. The President needs to act on these issues NOW.

  • sparkle obama

    isn’t the california ruling coming soon?
    i expect obama to address this issue at that point.
    i really feel that he is attempting to let gay marriage happen without much comment & i am not offended by this approach.
    he is letting the people & the states build a consensus so he doesn’t have to expend political capital unnecessarily or too early.
    look for the president to save his mojo for the inevitable DADT showdown.
    currently i am giving our government props for its passage of the hate crimes bill.
    can y’all do the same?
    if we follow our worst instincts to mindlessly use gay issues as a wedge against the president,
    we are no better that the christian right & we are only hurting Ourselves.
    yes, i am a psychic.

  • Mark M

    @sparkle obama: Even if you assume that his plan is to let it go state-by-state, it leaves a few SERIOUS ethical problems. Like the Federal marriage rights, including benefits protections. According to NCLR, there are some 1200 legal rights that married couples have because of their federal recognition. How would it be if we allowed states to determine civil liberties for other groups? Oh yea.. tried that. If we go that route, maybe women in NC can stop voting? Or Blacks in Tx can have a curfew.

    I think it is a mistake to think that “Political Capital” is a finite item, like flour in a jar. The reason he has that capital is because he spoke strongly and honestly about war and other issues that the unheard masses felt frustrated by.

    Finally, I am a wedge issue. My civil liberties matter to me. I wont sit in the corner and be quiet so that the other problems of the day can be resolved. What kind of abused-child thinking is that???!! The solution to most of our problems is in-line with the solutions to inequality. I am not interested in suppressing my rights any longer, even for the sake of keeping inflation low. (an artificial formula, but just as logical as what is suggested. ).

  • JayAtSea

    I think one fact needs to be taken into consideration… Its been just over 100 days. We all have high hopes for many issues, especially one of the ones closest to our heart – Gay Marriage – but there are still about 1360 days left (at least?).

    We can see that the individual states are taking on this issue. Maybe the approach is to let the states get the ball rolling, and that will give the momentum to those at the Federal level who are supporting this. Do I want to see Federal recognition of gay marriages? H3ll Yeah! Do I expect it today? Certainly would be nice, but I feel, for my own self, that its unreasonable to have that high expectation of it in the near future. Its not an “abuse-child thing” – its a matter of comfort. I’m okay with having my partner being my partner, not my “husband” until other issues are sorted out – like making sure i get to keep my job, house, etc.

  • Dennis

    Because Obama hates, hates, hates us…he’s such a bigot. I heard he sneaks out at night and commits gay bashings, and of course, he’s black, and they ALL hate gay people…and he once mentioned God is in the mix, so he’s a fundamentalist christian bigot as well, probably wants us all to burn in Hell…I just can’t believe how much he hates…why does he hate us so much?

    Sorry, just thought I’d save all the Queerty wingnuts the trouble of wasting thier day ranting against Obama…now, it’s all been said, so you can go out and get some fresh air, maybe catch a movie, take a bike ride…

    To answer the post…because he’s a politician, not your personal savior…he will not fall on a sword for you, but also WILL be an advocate for positive change for us, when he has consensus and support from other politicos in D.C.

    And, BTW, if any of you screechers want to see what a REAL BIGO looks like, check out th post on Pat Robertson…(I’m all about education.)

  • Chris_Yes that one

    WORK DENNIS!!!!!

    Loves it!

  • Mark M

    @Dennis: Yes, he is a politician. No better, no worse. During the primary, his fans told us to avoid Hillary because she was all about politics and appeasing her enemy. That he is part black does matter, in that he should know better. He should know what unequal treatment means.

    @jayatsea: your home and your job are not safe. there is no federal protection in the workplace or the financial market. It is totally legal in 37 states for you to get fired if your boss decides he doesn’t like gays. It is totally legal in 50 states for the bank to decide to call-in your mortgage because you are gay.

    I don’t care about words like ‘marriage’. And i don’t expect immediate perfection. I demand leadership and for civil liberties to be a priority. We aren’t even on Obama’s webpage anymore.

    We need to keep the pressure on, if we expect better. I think some of us don’t care, as long as we have nice cars and good jobs.. but some of us do.

  • lileasy

    @Dennis: Great Dennis. We’ll wait. I guess we have no choice. For many of us, however, time is running out, and we would sure like to see these changes before we bite the dust. When BHO asked for my help last year, he spoke to me of the urgency of his need. I was eager to comply. Now I am asking for his help, and I can assure you the need for urgency from this quarter is no less great. Some of us complainers provide our comments in the forlorn hope that someone in the White House will be listening and do what is needed and what is right. And FYI I am not a wingnut. I am not a bigot. I am not a Christian. However, as I am a pragmatist, I really am expecting nothing much to come of my complaints. I guess you would have me and other commenters at this site, just STFU.

  • Dennis

    Actually, no, I’m not asking you to STFU, make noise, advocate your head off…I support all those things…just trying (jokingly) to draw some lines between what a politician is and what a real bigot looks like…

    Honey, EVERY political campaign is like a seduction…I need you now, you have to give it to me…together we are gonna make magic happen!…and then the morning comes.

    A realist understands this, and then is pragmatic in pushing for his/her issues and agenda, understanding that EVERY group needing Obama’s attention is doing the same thing. That does not make Obama a homophobe or a bigot, just a politician…sorry he’s not our savior, or a gay rights activist.

    Still waiting for someone, anyone, to tell me who would/could be a better POTUS than Obama….overall, I think he’s doing well, on gay matters, less than great- but I truly believe good things are on the way for us within his first year…not fast enough, not fast enough…well, I say, make noise AND ALSO deal with reality. Peace.

  • lileasy

    @Dennis: Thanks and back at you.

  • dellisonly

    Why are you pretending to be offended now? This is exactly what he ran on. From the very first debate until the day he won his beliefs have stood firm. Am I the only one who watched any of his speaking engagements. I still believe he is better than McCain. I still believe he is making the right choice on fighting for an issue we can win versus beating his administrations head against a wall on an issue that we are still trying to gain ground on. Right now the states decide and so far it works to the point that the public has made their views clear. That its too early. Once the pensioners die off it will glide through with no problem. Patience kids

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