June 15, 2009
The DOMA f*ck up
Posted by: Andoni
ADDENDUM AT END: (THE NEW YORK TIMES AGREES)
As you can read here and here, the Obama Justice Department filed a brief defending DOMA. This was no ordinary brief. It was way over the top with arguments that could have just as well been made by Pat Roberson or Jerry Falwell. I'm still scratching my head over how this could have happened.
One of the authors of the brief was a Bush appointee who happens to be Mormon. It's pretty obvious in reading the brief that his personal religious views got in the way of prudent arguments. The Assistant Attorney General in charge of the office that filed the brief is Tony West, an Obama appointee, and by all accounts a progressive person. He is married to someone who was the ED of a major California pro gay non profit. (I don't want to drag names of uninvolved spouses or organizations into this, but a few googles will give this information if you are curious). The point being, I doubt the Assistant Attorney General -- the head of the office that filed the brief, is anti-gay.
So this is a major screw up that should never have happened. What do we do? So far, we've been complaining among ourselves. This is my advice to my friends and my email lists:
Complaining amongst ourselves about the horrendous brief that was filed by the Obama DOJ last Thursday afternoon defending DOMA does no good. We need to do something constructive, like TODAY -- when the government offices are open again in Washington after the weekend. I don't know how many people are reading this, but I bet if we all make a focused attempt to do the following, we will be heard:
1. Call or email the the White House (or do both) to register your strong complaint/disapproval/anger at the the Dept. of Justice's legal brief filed last Thursday defending the "Defense of Marriage Act" in US District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division (Smelt v United States). Make sure you reference DOMA, Dept of Justice, and filed in federal court in CA last Thursday so that when they tally the calls at the end of the day, our calls get lumped together. (Referencing Smelt v United States would be icing on the cake.) Emails to the White House can be made at: whitehouse.gov/contact/ and the comment phone line is: 202-456-1111. If you wish and have time, you can cite as an example some particular section of the brief that is particularly outrageous to you.
2. Ask/demand that the president fulfill his campaign promise to repeal DOMA by immediately introducing legislation to repeal DOMA
3. I would hope that all three (in concert if possible) of our representatives in Congress call or meet with the appropriate person in the White House to explain/protest how demeaning and over the top the DOJ brief was. They should stress that this was a completely avoidable fiasco if the White House had only consulted with them on this matter first. They should also point out that this is an example of why we need an LGBT senior staff liaison in the White House.
4. I would hope that every person who represents an LGBT organization would have that organization also contact the White House with the same above messages.
5. If you are a member of another email list, you would send the above suggestions to that list, so that the calls and emails snowball.
Taking action is preferable to complaining among ourselves. We've been run over here. If we don't make a loud noise and protest, the next time it will be even worse.
If we can't get enough people to take action over this -- to make our voices heard at the highest levels on this very justified complaint, I fear we don't have the energy, unity or passion to achieve equal rights in the near future.
ADDENDUM: The New York Times agrees with us. Here is their great editorial this morning. And I'm glad to report that Joe Solmonese, ED of the Human Rigths Campaign sent the president a strong letter that is well worth reading.Here's a key clip from the opening paragraph:
"I realized that although I and other LGBT leaders have introduced ourselves to you as policy makers, we clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours. I know this because this brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you."
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