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  • « Was the fix in for Hillary? | Main | Inflation runs high at HRC »

    June 06, 2007

    A gay 'oopsie' for Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamafist With all the attention on whether Hillary Clinton is selling gays short on marriage or inching her way to an gay marriage endorsement, it's easy to miss that Barack Obama has some 'splaining of his own to do on the subject.

    The candidates "report card" issued by the Human Rights Campaign masked an important difference between Clinton and Obama on the Defense of Marriage Act, one-half of which prohibits the federal government from recognizing gay marriages, and one-half of which allows one state to refuse recognition of gay marriages from other states.

    HRC shows both candidates — in fact all seven Democratic presidential candidates — backing repeal of the first-half of DOMA that deals with federal recognition. HRC does not show, however, that Obama is on record favoring a full repeal of DOMA, making him and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich the only ones willing to require states to recognize gay marriages from other states, just as they do straight marriages.

    Today's Chicago Sun-Times reported on the HRC questionnaire, pointing out that Obama's position wasn't always so gay-friendly.  He said he was against DOMA's repeal as recently as in a December 2003 candidate questionnaire for the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. Obama spokesperson Bill Burton tried explaining the change: "Obama has opposed DOMA. He felt it was a poorly conceived law and, in 2004, after hearing from gay friends who relayed to Obama how hurtful it was for the bill to be law, he supported its repeal."

    That sounds like a reasonable flip-flop evolution on the issue of the type we should encourage in all politicians. The only problem is, in February 2004, just two months after the pro-DOMA questionnaire, Obama wrote a letter to the gay Chicago paper the Windy City Times calling for DOMA's repeal.  So I guess those "conversations with friends" took place in January?

    What's more, Obama claims in that WCT letter that he has been against DOMA since it was first introduced back in 1996:

    For the record, I opposed [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. …

    When Members of Congress passed DOMA, they were not interested in strengthening family values or protecting civil liberties. They were only interested in perpetuating division and affirming a wedge issue. … Despite my own feelings about an abhorrent law, the realities of modern politics persist. While the repeal of DOMA is essential, the unfortunate truth is that it is unlikely with Mr. Bush in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress.

    I'm guessing Obama didn't actually oppose DOMA back in 1996 as an "abhorrent law" that "perpetuates divisions," only to subsequently decide by 2003 that it shouldn't be repealed, only to reverse course again in time to campaign with gay voters in 2004.  The more likely explanation is that the 2003 questionnaire was wrong, by accident or otherwise. Doesn't the "new kind of politics" include 'fessing up about this sort of thing?

    Obama is a bit less tortuous on gay immigration rights, but only marginally so. Told about the plight of gay Americans in binational relationships back in a February 2004 interview with WCT, Obama said he needed to study the issue.  When it was raised again with Obama in February 2006 by a gay American forced to live in exile to be his partner, Obama said he thought "that sounds unfair." 

    But still, he did not sign on to co-sponsor the Uniting American Families Act, even though it was the only issue that cost him a perfect score on HRC's congressional scorecard. Finally, pressed by HRC's presidential candidate scorecard, he checked that he "supports" UAFA, but then said in his answer that the legislation should be amended to address fraud concerns.

    More than three years after the gay immigration issue was raised with Obama, he still hasn't specified what changes would be necessary to win his actual support and co-sponsorship. That's not leadership, especially when every other Democrat running for president (except Hillary) has endorsed UAFA without conditions.

    All the waffling inspires discouragement in the ranks of Americans who ought to be more enthusiastic supporters, like Republic of T, a liberal black gay blogger who has written about his disillusionment with the Democratic candidates:

    Leaders, real ones, at some point have values — like fairness and equality — that they don’t dodge, deny, or dissemble about, but that they stand by and speak up for even when unpopular. Let alone with those values are popular or are gaining in popularity.

    I feel his pain.

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    Comments

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Jun 6, 2007 8:42:03 PM:

      As a registered Independent, I will go with the current batch of Democrats over the current batch of Republicans, but I'm disillusioned by all of the candidates when it comes to gay issues.

      Republicans are all beholden to the anti-gay, religious right sector of their party. Even Rudy Giuliani is wavering on his previous support of gay issues.

      Democrats offer support on most gay issues but when Republicans initiate anti-gay legislation, the Democrats are often too spineless to stand up to the Republicans.

      The deciding factor for me on choosing which of the two major political parties I'll support is that Democrats rarely, if ever, initiate anti-gay legislation or initiatives.

      With Republicans holding office we are always playing defense on gay issues. With Democrats in control, we can go on offense and begin to see pro-gay legislation introduced.

    1. Show Your Gay Pride! on Jun 8, 2007 2:25:04 AM:

      Um wow, that was quite a bit to take in.... All in all, Obama or otherwise, I think we're looking pretty good for the next election. I'm just tired of waiting for it.

    1. Show Your Gay Pride! on Jun 8, 2007 4:32:29 AM:

      A second not so commenty comment... Could you check out my blog and if you like it sponsor me on blogads? It would be much appreciated!

      Thanks,

      -Eric

    1. Terrance on Jun 8, 2007 2:52:11 PM:

      Thanks for the link.

      Basically, I look at the current crop of candidates and find myself hoping for the day when (to borrow from Sen. Obama) I can have the audacity to vote my hopes rather than settling for less.

    1. Wendy on Jun 12, 2007 12:03:44 AM:

      Alright, as somebody in Illinois, I have to ask: have any of you actually SEEN the IVI-IPO questionnaire??? The flippin' thing is only about seventy questions long - and, oh yes, at least 75% of them require essay responses, not a simple yes/no.

      I'd be pretty sure Obama didn't fill out the IVI questionnaire himself. Hell, I'd probably be surprised if he's even read all of "his" answers to the thing. Chances are Obama's answers were written by a mid- or junior- level staffer, reviewed by a senior-level staffer (who probably went cross-eyed by Question 30), and then submitted. I really wouldn't read too much into the IVI questionaire if I were y'all - this one's pretty sure to be staff error.

    1. Robert, NYC. on Jun 12, 2007 8:18:41 AM:

      I unregistered as a Democrat several years ago because I could see the party moving way too far to the center where it still remains unfortunately. I now vote Green, the only party with an full equality platform and wholly supportive of marriage equality. Only one of the contenders, Kucinich, publicly supports marriage equality but of course, he's not going to be president. I may reluctantly vote for a Democrat just to get rid of the current regime, but mark my words, nothing will change that much once he or she wins the White House. It will be business as usual, another four years of the same. They have been taking our vote for granted for far too long. This time around we have to tell them to put up, deliver the goods or lose us forever. I'm sick and tired of both sides.

    1. Danielle Clarke on Sep 5, 2007 1:31:20 PM:

      Myself i am with Obama. I think he is the most progresive for our issues.

      I do like that he does work across party lines. He worked with senator coburn to pass the transparency bill which allows us to google bills and see who backs them and which lobby supports them.

      As for his flipping i also doubt he filled out the HRC questioneer himself and that was a mistake on his part.

      I am sure there are though members of the LGBT who would use the "Uniting American Families Act" to get people into this country under fraudulent means. However, all laws should be equal for everyone. I will have to contact his office to find out what his LGBT representative knows about this fraud issue.

      In closing he surely beats all the other candidates except kucinich and gravel who seem to be too extreme to be able to get enough voters to elect them.

    1. Danielle Clarke on Sep 6, 2007 1:01:56 PM:

      DIRECT FROM THE LGBT DEPT AT BARACKOBAMA.COM

      ............................................
      Danielle-

      Barack believes that LGBT Americans with partners from
      other countries
      should not be faced with a choice between staying with
      their partner and
      staying in their country. That's why he supports
      changing immigration
      policy through the Uniting American Families Act. He
      does, however,
      have some reservations about the fraud provisions of
      the present bill.
      Precisely because same-sex couples are not allowed to
      enter into civil
      unions, domestic partnerships, or other
      legally-recognized unions
      throughout the country, he believes we need to make
      sure that we have
      adequate safeguards against fraud.

      He wants to make sure that immigration is possible for
      a partner in
      committed relationships, but he also wants to make
      sure there is a good
      mechanism for determining who qualifies for that
      status. He would like
      to see the Act get more specific with regards to
      defining 'financial
      interdependence' and the documentation required as
      proof in order to
      establish relationships - which could very well happen
      once the bill
      reaches the Senate floor.

      Hope this helps clarify.

      Alex

      .............................................
      Lets all get Barack Obama elected and get civil
      unions and get the UAFA bill fraud issue resolved so
      all can have equality.
      Danielle

      .....................................................
      THEIR EMAIL TO ME:


      Danielle-

      Barack believes that LGBT Americans with partners from
      other countries
      should not be faced with a choice between staying with
      their partner and
      staying in their country. That's why he supports
      changing immigration
      policy through the Uniting American Families Act. He
      does, however,
      have some reservations about the fraud provisions of
      the present bill.
      Precisely because same-sex couples are not allowed to
      enter into civil
      unions, domestic partnerships, or other
      legally-recognized unions
      throughout the country, he believes we need to make
      sure that we have
      adequate safeguards against fraud.

      He wants to make sure that immigration is possible for
      a partner in
      committed relationships, but he also wants to make
      sure there is a good
      mechanism for determining who qualifies for that
      status. He would like
      to see the Act get more specific with regards to
      defining 'financial
      interdependence' and the documentation required as
      proof in order to
      establish relationships - which could very well happen
      once the bill
      reaches the Senate floor.

      Hope this helps clarify.

      Alex

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Danielle c [mailto:danielegrl@yahoo.com]
      Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 12:36 PM
      To: Alex
      Subject: fraud question too

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