The End of DOMA

>> Friday, November 7, 2008

Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has a post on the possibility of Obama working to repeal The Defense of Marriage Act. Many in California, myself included, were simply appalled by the passage of proposition 8. Rest assured that the youth of California has no plans for letting this hang around long term. If prop 8 is not abrogated by the courts i give it less than 10 years before it is repealed by ballot initiative. Until then, the best move for an increase in gay rights is to kill DOMA. Glenn seems to think its possible if not likely and i agree with him.

Here is Obama on his view regarding same sex marriage. Watch all in full if you can and if you may only watch one watch the first one because the follow up is pretty good,

and Biden From the "debate" with Sarah w. Palin,

Other than Alan Keys is crazy, what we can take away from this is that Barack Obama and Joe Biden clearly do not now nor will they ever be a vocal proponent of gay marriage. Obama simply does not believe in it. It is not rationale for us to hold that Obama secretly favors gay marriage but chooses to keep that secret. He is consistent and strong is his advocacy for a civil unions instead of marriage.

What Obama has said is that he is very opposed to DOMA.

Barack Obama has, on numerous occasions, emphatically expressed his support for repealing DOMA. When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he wrote a letter to Chicago's Windy City Times, calling DOMA "abhorrent" and its repeal "essential," and vowing: "I opposed DOMA in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor." But he went on to cite what he called the "the realities of modern politics" in order to proclaim (accurately) that DOMA's repeal at that time -- 2004 -- was "unlikely with Mr. Bush in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress." After Tuesday, that excuse is no longer availing.

We know that Obama continues to hold these positions because he reaffirmed them earlier in the campaign for president.

"He supports the complete repeal of D.O.M.A. which is the same position he has held since early 2004," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told ABC News.

In order for President Obama's positions on Civil Unions to be coherent he must repeal at least part of DOMA. Specifically he must repeal section three which is the provision that expressly forbids the federal government from extending the same civil rights to gays that it does to heteros. This was a position that was advocated by Sen Clinton in the primaries and would allow for the federal government to make real civil unions possible without disturbing the traditional definition of marriage.

To be clear right now Obama and Biden's stated position on civil unions and LGBT rights is not compatable with DOMA. ONe of them has to go and really i dont imagine DOMA is going to be the winner on this one for an important reason. The repealing of doma is a position that Obama did not originally hold when he was running for senate in 2004,

When he began his campaign for U.S. Senate, he told a group called Independent Voters of Illinois -- Independent Precinct Organization that he supported D.O.M.A. He then switched to an anti-D.O.M.A. position on Feb. 11, 2004, as the March 2004 Illinois Democratic primary drew near. According to Obama’s staff, the Illinois Democrat changed positions mid-campaign because he heard from gay friends how hurtful D.O.M.A. was.

Obama presumably continues to have a personal stake in this. The only question becomes "when?" With the economic crisis and the health care initiative and the energy initiatives and the infrastructure projects Obama has a full plate. Will Obama be willing to spend the political capital it will take to get this done with so many other things on his plate? It is clear he might have to fight some of the leadership on this because as Glenn points out,

The conventional Beltway wisdom has already ossified, quite predictably, that Obama and the Democrats must scorn "the Left" and, despite polling data showing widespread support for equal rights for same-sex couples, such a move would be deemed by Beltway media mavens as coming from "the Left." Nancy Pelosi is running around decreeing that "the country must be governed from the middle," while Harry Reid emphasizes that Democrats have received no mandate from the election. And, most significantly of all, Democrats are being told they must avoid the "overreaching" of Clinton's first two years, defined by his attempt to eliminate the ban on gay people serving in the military -- something likely to scare Democrats from touching any gay issues.

Pelosi and Reid are either gun shy or just too clever by half. They are not all that good at playing the rhetorical games with out getting burned. Also keep in mind Obama is not Bill Clinton and he is learning from the mistakes Bill made. He is not going to be pushed around or marginalized like some fear. At the very least he has a very large and impressive email list and voter database that provides massive fund raising potential. The site,, also allows you to sign up for emails. I can wait to start getting emails from my president with updates on what he is doing for me. This stuff will provide a considerable carrot for those in congress to help Obama out when he has something important he needs to get done. Obama is not without leverage.

In the aftermath of the Prop 8 passage the potential for the end of DOMA is heartening. I don't actually have any gay friends that i am aware of but i consider gay people to be people as equal as any one else in this country. That they should be treated as second class citizens makes me physically ill. In light of this i was happy to realize that Obama's current position is incompatible with the continuation of DOMA and he is on record in favor of repealing it. Hopefully, that change Obama was talking about was a change in treating LGBT people from an oppressed class to full citizens with all the rights and privileges they deserve.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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