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June 29, 2009

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Not so long ago, and still...

Rick Warren expressed open homophobia, declaring same-sex marriage to be the equivalent of paedophilia and bestiality, and yet he was a more honored guest at Obama's inauguration than Gene Robinson. No change there then: homophobic pastors deserve public honor, openly gay priests should be shoved out of sight.

Over two hundred soldiers have been discharged from the US forces for their sexual orientation or gender identity: with Obama's tacit approval, though before he was inaugurated he was making very definite noises that he was going to put a stop to that. No change there then.

In June Obama's DOJ published a homophobic brief defending DOMA with such delightful reasoning as it being cheaper for the federal government not to allow same-sex married couples to claim the same benefits as mixed-sex married couples and asserting that this wasn't discrimination, because a gay man was equally free to marry a woman. (See the reasoning that said laws against Obama's father being allowed to marry his mother weren't discrimination, because Obama's father was free to marry a black woman, and Obama's mother was free to marry a white man, as nature and God intended, or so the same bigots were saying back in 1963.) No change there then.

Following through on saving money by treating lesbians and gays unjustly, see Obama's decision that whatever benefits same-sex partners of federal employees would be allowed, the expensive health-care benefit wasn't one of them. No change there then.

With regard to LGBT rights, it's clear now that whatever Barack Obama said to get the gay vote in 2004 and 2008, his position on DOMA is no better than Hillary Clinton's: she at least was honest about not intending to work for repeal. Obama just flat lied.

As Box Turtle Bulletin notes:

He says he wants to “uphold existing law” in a way “that does not exacerbate old divides.” He apparently failed to understand that it was that very DOMA brief that exacerbated old divides. Maybe there’s only one side of the divide he wants to avoid exacerbating, but not the other.
I think that's just right: I think Obama's attitudes are a lot closer to the Time article of 40 years ago, that the GLBT people he lied to are just pathetic, to be humored, but it's the homophobic Christians like Rick Warren whose feelings really count. No change there then.

Following through on saving money by treating lesbians and gays unjustly, see Obama's decision that whatever benefits same-sex partners of federal employees would be allowed, the expensive health-care benefit wasn't one of them.

The only decision reflected here is the decision not to prioritize overturning DOMA during his first six months in office. DOMA prohibits these benefits. What Obama did decide to do was to require "all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows". I assume this was not required in 1966. Ergo, change. Not as big a change as either of us wishes, but still refreshing.

DOMA prohibits these benefits.

The text of DOMA:

"1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
2. The federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman."

Nothing there I can see about the federal government being forbidden to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners.

What Obama did decide to do was to require "all agencies to extend as many federal benefits as possible to LGBT families as current law allows".

Except for the ones that would be too expensive: as Obama's DOJ advises.

. I assume this was not required in 1966. Ergo, change. Not as big a change as either of us wishes, but still refreshing.

Yes. Thanks to a lot of hard work by GLBT activists whom Obama has spent the last five months ignoring when he hasn't spat on them. Inviting the gays to party at the White House is secondary by a long way to regarding GLBT people as equal US citizens, and behaving accordingly.

Sorry, that is a familiar summary, but it's not the exact text of DOMA.

The exact text still makes no ban on health care for same-sex partners:

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1. No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

2. In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
--------

The law does not forbid a ruling by the US government that same-sex spouses / civil-unioned partners can have federal health care benefits as if they were in what federal law recognizes as a marriage.

But we know from the recent DoJ ruling that Obama's administration prefers to save the money rather than spend it on queer people.

"The constitutional propriety of Congress's decision to decline to extend federal benefits immediately to newly recognized types of marriages is bolstered by Congress's articulated interest in preserving the scarce resources of both the federal and State governments. DOMA ensures that evolving understandings of the institution of marriage at the State level do not place greater financial and administrative obligations on federal and state benefits programs. Preserving scarce government resources — and deciding to extend benefits incrementally — are well-recognized legitimate interests under rational-basis review. See Butler, 144 F.3d at 625 ("There is nothing irrational about Congress's stated goal of conserving social security resources, and Congress can incrementally pursue that goal."); Hassan v. Wright, 45 F.3d 1063, 1069 (7th Cir. 1995) ("[P]rotecting the fisc provides a rational basis for Congress' line drawing in this instance."). Congress expressly relied on these interests in enacting DOMA: Government currently provides an array of material and other benefits to married couples in an effort to promote, protect, and prefer the institution of marriage. . . . If [a State] were to permit homosexuals to marry, these marital benefits would, absent some legislative response, presumably have to be made available to homosexual couples and surviving spouses of homosexual marriages on the same terms as they are now available to opposite-sex married couples and spouses. To deny federal recognition to same-sex marriages will thus preserve scarce government resources, surely a legitimate government purpose." cite
Despite what Hilzoy seemed to think, this is not an issue that would just go away in a few days...

The exact text still makes no ban on health care for same-sex partners

True. However:

the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

and the http://www.ebar.com/common/inc/article_print.php?sec=news&article=4008>Bay Area Reporter explains that

the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program defines eligibility as "spouse" and children.

Why John Berry can't just rewrite the FEHBP to define eligibility differently, I do not know.

Actually, I find that Obama did not sign an Executive Order: he signed a Presidential Memorandum. cite The only executive order Obama signed in June was with regard to setting up a presidential council on the automotive industry. Prior to President Reagan, according to this site, a Presidential Memo was referred to as a Presidential Letter.

the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program defines eligibility as "spouse" and children.

So? If President Obama's intent was to treat all federal employees equally despite DOMA and regardless of sexual orientation, what was to stop him signing an Executive Order declaring that same-sex couples in a civil union, or legally married, were to be treated by all federal employment benefit programs as if their partner was their spouse?

If he just wanted to throw some cheap meat to his critics, hoping they'd quit their yapping, he'd do exactly what he did: have a memo drafted with some fine-sounding language, and hope no one would notice he hadn't done anything very much at all to oppose DOMA... which he claimed he wanted to do when he needed GLBT votes.

I guess in theory you could do exactly that. But it's impossible to see it as anything but a complete end-run around the law. Positively Cheneyesque.

But it's impossible to see it as anything but a complete end-run around the law.

Yes; using the power of the executive to remedy injustice and discrimination against US citizens. What an appalling thing for the President of the United States to do; why, it would seem as if Obama regarded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans as equal citizens entitled to equal treatment before the law. Which obviously, he does not, so you needn't worry about it.

Positively Cheneyesque.

Yes, because Dick Cheney was notorious for using the power of the executive against injustice and discrimination directed against GLBT citizens such as his own daughter.

Obama is a huge disappointment. I expected he would break campaign promises. And so far in every undertaking he has. His hypocritical treatment of gays can be considered a leading indicator of his lack of commitment to his pledges. On health care he is going to sell out and help industry gut the public option. More of the fake "reform and change" we've seen in the stimulus, bank bailout, financial regulations, and climate bills. Next year and probably for the next 3 years we will still be discussing his failure to advance equality regarding DOMA and DADT. Ironic that our first black president turns out to be yet another promoter of falseness and discrimination, not even trying to match his words to action.

OK, I'm all for gay marriage and complete legal equality for LGBT fellow-citizens.

But here's what I don't get: the first comment in this thread says that Rick Warren is guilty of "open homophobia, declaring same-sex marriage to be the equivalent of paedophilia and bestiality."

Why do my LGBT friends argue that bourgeois prejudices against homosexual behavior and feelings are unreasonable, but that bourgeois prejudices against "pedophilia" and bestiality are reasonable?

I don't know about bestiality, but I'd in fact point out that sex with what are now considered "children" has been the norm in most societies throughout human history ... when a 14-year-old can produce children, why waste that fertility, esp. in a society in which life-expectancy was in the high 20s, low 30s at best?

curious: Why do my LGBT friends argue that bourgeois prejudices against homosexual behavior and feelings are unreasonable, but that bourgeois prejudices against "pedophilia" and bestiality are reasonable?

Jesus God.

Look, if you're a bigot, you think "gay sex is icky, paedophiles are icky, bestiality is icky, it's ALLLLL icky".

If you're a Christian bigot, you think "it's ALLLLL sinful" - and icky.

Neither reaction is reasonable.

It is perfectly reasonable to take the position that whatever your personal feelings about ickiness or sin, whoever you personally are attracted to, it ought not to be illegal or a source of social or legal discrimination for consenting adults to decide to have sex with each other.

And dismissing the principle that sex ought to be consensual, that cruelty to animals is wrong, and that sexual exploitation of children by adults is appalling, as "bourgeois prejudices" is ... trollish.

By definition, a human having sex with an animal is having sex with a non-consenting partner.

By definition, an adult having sex with a child is having sex with a non-consenting partner.

A fourteen-year-old boy may be old enough to "produce children" but that's no reason to regard his fertility as something to be "used" - he's not a resource, he's a human being, with a right to decide for himself when, and with whom, he will have sex, and if, when, and with whom, he will engender children. Likewise, a fourteen-year-old girl.

Do you have any LGBT friends?

Can we all agree that it's actually the DENIAL of Marriage Act. It does nothing whatsoever to defend marriage.

Jesus: Well as for animals, if you can kill 'em and eat 'em, if you can make them fetch sticks for your amusement or pull your sled or herd your sheep, I'm not sure why forbidding sex with them because they don't "consent" to it is any sort of argument.

As for sex with "children:"

you miss a number of points in your righteous wrath. First: What is a "child"? Who defines this? On what basis?

Second: The issue of fertility is an anthropological/socialogial issue: pre-modern societies, esp. agricultural societies, do not have the luxury to waste fertility. It's a question of group survival.

The Victorian ideal of consensual sex based on love matches is a very modern idea, very western idea. You may think it's superior to other models of arranging sexual relationships between people, but you ought to admit that modern westerners are by far the outliers here, and that your position is ethnocentric and hegemonic.

Yes.

I'm truly sorry I let curious troll me with their initial fake "question", which I really ought to have realised was just going to be an excuse to post about how adult men ought to have access to teenage girls.

Jesus -- you've missed the point again. Here it is in words that perhaps even you can understand: I find it very curious that the mainstream LGBT movement buys into traditional stereotypes of "deviant" sexual behavior in such an opportunistic way. It's a lot like Black anti-semitism, or Jewish anti-"Schwarzer" attitudes: both trying to buy access to the "in" group by affecting the "in" group's other prejudices.

I challenge you to define "adult" and "teenage" in a non-historically contingent way. Surely you realize that the notion of "age of consent" has been very much a moving target, even within the U.S., and even within the last 100 years. Do you really think that now, in the late-20th, early 21-st century, we in the West have achieved a perfect understanding of human morality?

curious, I'm not missing the point at all: you faked an interest in why people think that prejudices against same-gendered sexual behavior are different from objections to paedophilia or bestiality: I replied to your question, and your response made clear (as does your 12:08 response) that you were looking for an excuse to post about your justifications for your own sexual interest in pubescent children. This pattern is predictable and fairly distasteful: not playing, and sorry I let you troll me.

"you faked an interest in why people think that prejudices against same-gendered sexual behavior are different from objections to paedophilia or bestiality"

Mind-reading claim.

Here's a question: why are so many gay men Republicans?

At the state level, all of the legislative progress has come from Democrats; at the federal level, Democrats are far more in favor of gay rights than Republicans; and you just watched Bush and Cheney do absolutely zero for eight years.

And yet I see this constant claim that somehow Republicans are better for LG rights than Democrats?

"Here's a question: why are so many gay men Republicans?"

Do you have any evidence that gay men have a higher proportion of Republicans among them than the general population?

If not, you're suggesting that: a) gay men should treat the Democratic/Republican differential on gay issues as the most important issue of all, which seems debatable -- that is, I'm neither gay nor a Republican, but clearly a significant number of people who are both don't agree; and:
b) that the differential between Democrats and Republicans on gay rights is all that huge, and unfortunately, as Jes isn't shy about noting, nor many others rightfully, the differences tend to be rather marginal, unfortunately. Obama certainly hasn't taken the lead the way many of us had hoped he would, and neither has the Democratic Congress yet overturned DADT, and so forth.

More Republicans obviously demonize gays that Democrats, but Democrats overall, with a variety of exceptions, of course, haven't been rushing forward to get ahead of the public on gay rights, or gay marriage, particularly, either. Sadly.

"And yet I see this constant claim that somehow Republicans are better for LG rights than Democrats?"

Now that I have to wonder where you see this constantly: some cites?

Mark: why are so many gay men Republicans?

Because if you set the right triggers, people can be got to vote against their own interests. It's a classic and necessary tactic for conservative politics ever since the property qualification was removed from the right to vote. In the US, the triggers have been classically racist, but in the past twenty or so years "pro-life" became a useful trigger, and in the 21st century "gay marriage" is now being used as a trigger - but nothing says a gay man can't cling to the party of their old familiar triggers. Andrew Sullivan spent years trying to convince himself that Bush and Cheney weren't really his political enemies...

...and we haven't even touched on why a closeted gay man might vote Republican and outspokenly oppose same-sex marriage, on the grounds that if he had to suffer, everyone should...

There's also the factor that wealthy white gay men who are unlikely ever to experience any direct discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation, and who affect - or really feel - indifference to being able to get married, or serve in the military, may simply not care what triggers are being used to get the plebs to vote Republican, and side with the the party that will protect their wealth. And nothing renders gay men especially immune to triggers such as "race" or "pro-life": white LGBT people can be as racist as any straight person, sadly enough.

Wealthy white men - gay or straight - are the most visible and vocal single group of voters: and openly-gay Republicans become more visible just as black Republicans do.

It may be surprising that any gay men are still fool enough to support the Republican party, but given they exist, it's not really surprising that they tend to be more visible than your average gay leftie voter who may loathe Obama and Clinton on general principles but will show up to vote for the Democratic candidate on the lesser-of-two-evils principle...

"why are so many gay men Republicans?"

Perhaps because the differences between how national-level Republicans vote on gay issues and how national level Democrats vote on gay issues isn't big enough to be the deciding factor. (Especially in the 1990s and early 2000s). Voting for one candidate or another is always a compromise, so if the candidates aren't effectively much different on an issue(see especially Clinton for example) you choose between them on a different issue.

That Time article just reflects the prevailing wisdom on homosexuality in, perhaps, the mid to late 1950s. It's the view of homosexuality as pathology -- arrested development, flight from life, fear of the female, etc etc -- that I grew up with AND INTERNALIZED. It was maybe the worst time to be born gay -- post-War, military screening instruments, pre-Evelyn Hooper (sp) and gay lib movements. I spent many years in therapy trying get cured of my pathetic pathology, but aside from some outward success, I failed. It's been a life-long theme and issue.

It's not Time magazine's writing; it was the prevailing cultural wisdom.

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