Saturday, June 27, 2009

Obama takes yet another page from Bush's playbook

Secret White House meetings with industry lobbyists. Extraordinary rendition. Give-aways to the financial industry. Holding people prisoner for indeterminate time without charges. All these are practices of the Bush administration that have survived in the Obama administration. An administration supposedly pledged to "change." Add to that list the much-abused practice of signing statements, as reported by "The Hill" with respect to legislation signed by President Obama yesterday. It's interesting, to say the least, that this administration will defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court using particularly offensive language, ostensibly because "it has no choice but to defend the law" while then issuing a signing statement in which the administration makes clear that it will not enforce some provisions of a law passed by Congress.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yet more evidence that "change" is a meaningless word

The Obama Administration is fighting to keep White House visitor records secret so the public will not know who drops by the White House to influence the chief executive. This is in keeping with Bush Administration policy, as are so many other things it seems (indefinite detention, rendition, aggressive enforcement of DADT, energetic defense of DOMA, etc.). This particular position contradicts Obama's promises of transparency. The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is suing to gain access to the logs of visits from coal company executives.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Department of Justice files a motion in support of anti-gay discrimination

The Federal Department of Justice has filed a motion to dismiss a case seeking to overturn the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in Federal court. In its motion, the Obama Administration uses arguments in support of this discriminatory act which can only be described as straw men or even homophobic.

For example, DOMA is defended on the grounds it protects the Federal government's "scarce resources." By that line of reasoning, the Federal government should likewise not recognize opposite-sex marriage. Furthermore, the motion states rather broadly that DOMA is "well-reasoned" and doesn't deprive same-sex couples of any fundamental rights. I guess the over one thousand rights afforded opposite-sex couples under Federal law don't really count.

My favorite part is the statement that DOMA was not motivated by animosity towards gays! Really. So the fact that my partner and I, were we even able to obtain civil marriage in our home state (where we cannot), would not be recognized as a couple in most of the country or by the Federal government is something born out of what then? Is DOMA and act of love for same-sex couples? Is DOMA a gesture of compassion towards couples who simply want to live their lives together, free of fear of discrimination in taxation, in the healthcare system, when they retire, and when one of them dies? It sounds like the usual religious right claptrap about "loving the sinner." No thanks. I don't want this so-called Christian love. What I want is the same set of rights that my opposite-sex married friends take for granted. Please don't tell me that DOMA has nothing to do with anti-gay sentiment. I'm nowhere near stupid enough to buy that.

For more on this filing, check out John Aravosis' citations from this filing in his blog entry. Aravosis goes into more detail and his entry is a must-read for any same-sex couple that is interested in knowing what chance they have of seeing any progress on this issue for our community.

Meanwhile, I'm left saddened that my growing skepticism that the Obama Administration is in any way sympathetic to the LGBT community has found yet more evidence to support it. The president has described himself as a "fierce advocate" for LGBT rights. Yet the LGBT community has seen nothing but silence on issues fundamental to it and now outright hostility.

After all, this is an administration that continues to enforce Don't Ask Don't Tell by separating decorated and uniquely-skilled lesbian and gay service members from the armed forces at a time when our armed forces are already stretched. In fact, a bill written by my representative, Rush Holt, calling for the end of DADT is languishing, with no word of support at all from the White House.

The president continues to enjoy a great deal of forbearance across a wide range of issues, tackling as he does so many problems inherited from the previous administration. But the silence and now hostility from his administration on issues that matter to a community that had disproportionately supported him in the last election, thanks largely to his ostensible "fierce advocacy" for it, is inexplicable. And it's disappointing and discouraging. To judge from the evidence so far, I in my condition of gay man in a loving relationship with another man do not have a friend in the White House.

Monday, June 8, 2009

ABCNews report on a freed Guantánamo Bay detainee

Officials of the former Bush Administration, starting with Dick Cheney, have much to answer for. This report covers the experience of a man working for the Red Crescent in Bosnia who was detained and held for over seven years, was abused and tortured, but was never charged with anything and against whom no evidence was ever produced:
EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Gitmo Detainee Lakhdar Boumediene Details Torture - ABC News

Shared via AddThis