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Why Won’t These Democratic Senators Support Killing DOMA?

Why won’t either Pennsylvania’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey nor Michigan’s Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow come out swinging for the repeal the Defense of Marriage Act? Is it that difficult a question?

Apparently so.

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Sen. Casey, who is on the record defending DOMA (but supports civil unions for gays, and hate crimes protections), says a DOMA repeal isn’t the best option, but points to other progress on gay rights issues. Fine, but why no repeal?

Same goes for Sen. Stabenow, who supports the Matthew Shepard Act and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She wants domestic partnerships. But c’mon, what about marriage?

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  • Jon B

    Ugh, I want to bitch slap them.

  • Mattbydesign

    Debbie Stabenow is my Senator and I have talked to her on this subject many times, both in Michigan and in DC. She does support gay marriage but she knows she has to play it safe because she can easily loose her seat to some bumblefuck republican from Oakland County the next time she’s up for election. I would rather have a democratic senator that is taking her time than a republican senator who will try to roll back everything we have gained thus far.

    She has stated publicly that GLBT people in Michigan are being kicked out of their homes and losing their jobs just for being gay. Anti-gay hate crimes in Michigan are going unreported. Senator Stabenow is a a former social worker so her focus on these topics before marriage is not surprising, and I agree with her. She has always put the the people of Michigan first before partisan bullshit, and that is why I keep voting for her.

    Marriage is a secondary issue here in Michigan. We have the worst economy of any state and every gay person fired from their jobs for being gay is just hurting the state even more. Don’t be so quick to criticize, Queerty, until you have all the facts about the States these people are representing.

  • Brian

    Don’t vote for these politicians, even though they are democrats. Gays need to leverage they can get. Just look at the video above. They are not even looking for our vote, because they take it for granted. Vote against the democratic party in the midterms. It is the only way politicians will learn that there is a political risk in not supporting our issues.

  • Mattbydesign

    @ Brian

    Senator Stabenow does have the best interest of GLBT’s in mind. In case you didn’t know, GLBT’s have it pretty bad in Michigan, we can get fired and lose our homes just for being gay here and she is focusing on that. On top of that Michigan is inching back to red state status with every election. Can you honestly tell me you would rather she be voted out and replaced by a good-for-nothing republican just because you THINK she doesn’t support the repeal of DOMA? (she does support repeal).

    Workplace and housing protections are huge issues here and I applaud her for stepping up to help the GLBT’s of Michigan in a rather dire hour.

  • Kdogg

    Everyone should blame HRC, you all are good at that… better yet I bet Joe Solmonese was under the CNN desk pinching Stabenow’s leg telling her to not voice support for it!

    More likely its because Michigan is UNBELIEVABLY conservative on social grounds and despite her dramatic support for the GLBT community it would be political suicide to on national television support gay marriage. Instead she said everything but that. Separate but equal will apply to civil unions once they are offered anyway.

  • Kdogg

    I should also add that the American Family Association (AFA) was founded in Michigan to give you all an idea of the social conservatism there is there. The AFA should be labeled a cult they are so fiercely anti-gay.

  • Andrew

    Currently, 64 Senators are against the repeal of DOMA.

  • Mattbydesign

    @ Kdogg

    you are right. It has been by the grace of that two liberal democrats are our senators (Carl Levin being the other one). They BOTH know that they have a lot to lose if they support the wrong thing. remember the old addage “Slow and steady wins the race”. I am willing to hold off on marriage for a little bit if it means that I won’t lose my job or apartment because of a mouth breathing hick.

    and having talked personally with Senator Stabenow on many occasions I know for a fact she supports marriage equality, it’s just that the stakes are too high in Michigan and she knows that.

    I too question the vitriol for HRC. every time I hear someone trash the HRC all I hear is “WAAAAHHH I want my toys NOW!” when HRC is saying “You can have much better toys if you have a little patience”

  • B

    Brian, “Don’t vote for these politicians, even though they are democrats.” A mere “no” vote from Democrats in a few conservative states will not stop a repeal of DOMA as long as nearly all Democrats go along with the repeal, but given Republican opposition, someone who supports a filibuster really can help stop it. It’s how the person votes regarding a filibuster that you should be concerned about, not a “no” vote that won’t change the outcome but that helps keep the guy in office. Nor should you be concerned with public statements made for constituents’ consumption – its nice to educate them but a senator can’t do that and survive politically if the senator gets too far ahead of them.

    Keep in mind too that senators from conservative states who are personally more liberal than their constituents can cooperate with each other, spreading the risk by having just enough vote in the favorable direction to set the outcome. They can then give their socially conservative constituents a rationale for one anomalous vote while pointing to all the other votes that the constituents would like. Sure it is sneaky, but that sort of game playing probably goes on in Washington all the time.

  • Brian

    One reason by hatred of gays is still so strong, is that democratic politicians don’t have to take a firm stand in support of ending oppression of gays. Why? They know they will get their vote anyway, and that it really does not have to be earned. So they do not have any incentive to lead on the issue. They can equivocate — get their cake and eat it too. The only ways gays are ever going to have any leverage with these politicians, is to vote them out, and threaten to vote them out. Maybe, in the future, a new, younger generation of politicians will remember what happens when you lose the gay vote.

    It sounds mean, but I think it is time for the gays to play hardball. That means staying home from the midterms. If they want my vote, they are going to have to bust their hump. I am not afraid of republican rule in the senate after 2010, it couldn’t get any worse for us.

  • Brian

    gays are in the trouble they are in by being too nice. All they know how to do is throw a dinner parties. It is time to get out the baseball bat and crack a few kneecaps (politically). I’m not going to let the dems blackmail me, saying that I should be afraid of republican rule. I am afraid of THEIR rule, playing politics with me. They have strung me along long enough. It is time to go. I have always voted democratic, but in the midterms, I am staying home, and encouraging everyone else to do the same.

  • Ian

    THEY’RE NOT VOTING FOR GAY MARRIAGE. All they’re doing is leaving it up to the states to decide if they want gay marriage or not. We don’t have that now since the so-called Defense of Marriage Act keeps liberal states like Massachusetts from giving same-sex married couples federal benefits like immigration, and taxes.

    Are they really that stupid?

  • B

    Brian wrote, “One reason by hatred of gays is still so strong, is that democratic politicians don’t have to take a firm stand in support of ending oppression of gays.”

    Does that mean Brian is no longer blaming “religion” as the sole
    root of all evil? But why blame the Democrats when they finally
    managed to get some pro-gay legislation passed? If you want more progress, you need to get rid of a few more Republicans, so they won’t be able to filibuster so easily.

  • McShane

    If your concerns don’t extend to any other of the life and death issues plaqueing America, you can vote to put a Republican in: then you will get less than nothing. Marriage is a smal gain if you lose the whole game.Remember there is no Socialist party to speak of , so a fucked up as the Democrats are, unless you are really dense about world affairs, vote Republican.

  • Brian

    My count has 64 US Senators supporting DOMA for religious reasons. How do we overcome their allegiance to God? No lobbying or even bribing will change their minds.

    What’s the Plan? (please don’t suggest “prayer”).

  • J. Clarence

    You know to a certain extent I am upset that they cannot just openly state that they are in favor of repealing DOMA. However! At the same time it’s amazing how just in a few years both of those Senators are on record as being ready to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, employment discrimination, and pass hate crimes legislation.

    It’s a testament to how (quickly) views are changing.

  • ChiRugby


    “every time I hear someone trash the HRC all I hear is “WAAAAHHH I want my toys NOW!” when HRC is saying “You can have much better toys if you have a little patience””

    Toys? Fuck you. If something happens to me, I already have one relative that has confirmed that she will challenge my will in court because, “[her] kids deserve it because they’re [my] kin.”

    If she gets the right probate judge, my partner’s probably fucked. That’s not Toys, it’s our fucking house.

  • B

    Brian wrote, “My count has 64 US Senators supporting DOMA for religious reasons.” Brian’s count is bogus. Just because a senator claims he believes in God to give his fundamentalist constituents a warm fuzzy feeling doesn’t mean he really does.

    Take, as a humorous example, some of the dialog from the film Spartacus:

    No, keep the change. Give it to your wife.
    – May the gods adore you. – Only through your prayers.
    Let’s make an old-fashioned sacrifice for Glabrus’ success.
    I thought you had reservations about the gods.
    Privately I believe in none of them. Neither do you.
    Publicly I believe in them all.

    When it comes to politicians fooling the public, not much has changed in the last few thousand years.

  • Brian

    @B: Fundamentalist constituents? 22 of the 64 Senators favoring DOMA are Catholic. You are foolish to continue to suggest that the “religious problem” we have is just the crazy right. The US Senate is 90% “religious.” Very few have left their religious beliefs behind when it comes to gays.

    DOMA passed 85-14 because of religious beliefs. It cannot be repealed because of those same beliefs. 64 Senators still strongly support it.

  • B

    Brian wrote, “@B: Fundamentalist constituents? 22 of the 64 Senators favoring DOMA are Catholic.” You mean, less than
    1/3 of them. And the rest? It’s the fundamentalists Christians who are most vocal, and in politics, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    As to, “DOMA passed 85-14 because of religious beliefs,” that isn’t really true. It passed by a wide margin because they were pandering, not because of any religious convictions on the part of these senators. Just because a lot of them go to church regularly does not make them religious – if most of their constituents suddenly decided to not vote for anyone who went to church, those senators would abandon the pews faster than rats deserting a sinking ship.

    Why do you think the Republicans jumped into bed with the fundamentalists? It was because anyone who can be convinced that the earth is only 6000 years old can be convinced just as easily that cutting taxes for the rich helps the middle class.

  • Brian

    @B You’re delusional. The vote for DOMA was religious. The few “non-religious” or liberal Jews voted against it. You can try to suggest that there are good Christians and bad Christians – 79 Christians voted for DOMA (93% of Christians). 6 Christians voted against DOMA (7% of Christians).

    And, the two Senators mentioned in this article?

    Senator Bob Casey = Roman Catholic (ask Maine about the “Catholics”).

    Senator Debbie Stabenow = Methodist (7 Methodists voted for DOMA)

    Both still support DOMA.

    We can’t change their minds because we don’t have anything to trade or bribe them with. They believe we are wrong because “God told them so.” How do you change that belief? God’s instructions are not “negotiable.”

  • B

    Brian, incapable of a civil discussion, wrote, “@B You’re delusional. The vote for DOMA was religious. The few “non-religious” or liberal Jews voted against it. You can try to suggest that there are good Christians and bad Christians – 79 Christians voted for DOMA (93% of Christians). 6 Christians voted against DOMA (7% of Christians).”

    The idea that a senator would base his vote on his religious beliefs rather than what his constituents and financial supporters want is simply not how the real world works.

    BTW, you forgot Ted Kennedy, who was religiously a Roman Catholic and relatively devout, but who ignored the church’s official position on abortion and gay rights, two of that church’s biggies.
    You also are counting all the senators who profess to be religious and who regularly attend church merely because their constituents expect that as being real “Christians”. It may surprise you, but a senator’s “firm conviction” frequently tracks public opinion.

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