January 18, 2008
Déjà Birch all over again
Posted by: Chris
When Elizabeth Birch headed up the Human Rights Campaign during the 1990s, she mostly grimaced and took it when Bill Clinton betrayed his promises to gay Americans and failed to deliver on even basic legislation protecting us in the workplace or from hate crimes.
Even after he agreed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and signed the Defense of Marriage Act, she threw herself and HRC aggressively behind Clinton in 1996, frequently referring to his re-election as do-or-die for gay voters. We all know now, of course, that he did nothing appreciable on gay rights in his second, Monica-obsessed presidential term.
Twelve years later, Elizabeth Birch was canvassing voters in New Hampshire, and some things clearly haven't changed. The 2008 election is once again do-or-die for us gay folk:
At this moment of history for us it’s life and death. For other people it’s a wonderful privilege but for us it’s literally our lives.
But lest she be known as the activist who cried wolf one too many times, at least Birch appears at long last to have "found her voice" about those dark Clinton years:
You’ll hear Clinton people try to say, ’Oh, we made such advances.’ We made no advances. We got left with ’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and the Defense of Marriage Act. So were there reasons for that? Yes. However, there’s cleanup to do now and we have to move forward and get laws in place.
As gratifying as it is that Elizabeth finally saw the light -- that all those openly gay appointments and minor federal regulatory changes added up to basically "no advances" -- you can only shake your head at who she is backing in this "life or death" election: Hillary Clinton, of course!
Nothing like holding the Clintons accountable, Elizabeth, even though Hillary is still defending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as a necessary transition and to this day favors only a half-repeal of DOMA. I'm sure she'll be more aggressive once she's elected -- right?
Apparently new ideas progress as slowly through the gay establisment as gay rights legislation does through Congress.
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