• Gay BlogAds

  • Gay News Watch

  • Chris Tweets

  • « The dissent becomes the mainstream | Main | Barney and Tammy back Hillary »

    November 12, 2007

    The Obama-Clinton difference, part 2

    Posted by: Chris

    Andrew Sullivan recently asked whether Hillary Clinton ever had defended gay rights in front of a non-gay audience the way Barack Obama has done repeatedly, including to black church leaders whose support he badly needs.  Ben Smith at Politico.com found an example of drive-by defense from Hillary to an already supportive crowd, the Democrats' Jefferson Jackson dinner:

    "We Democrats believe in labor rights and women's rights and gay rights and civil rights," she said.

    23blogobama190 Feel the chills.  Meanwhile, Obama answered (again) the Donnie McClurkin "ex-gay" controversy on "Meet The Press" this week by (again) forcefully making the case for gay rights.

    I've talked to African-American ministers. There's a problem of homophobia in the African-American community. I will go into churches, I will go into meetings with ministers and say, "I disagree with you on these issues. This is not how I interpret my faith." But the fact that we're having a conversation, I think, allows the possibly that I will change their minds, make them more tolerant of these issues.

    Andrew is right that there's no chance Hillary would ever be so bold.  The "MTP" video is here:

    If you watched it, you also saw Obama repeat (again) his promise, unmatched among the top candidates, to move aggressively to enact federal civil unions legislation. In a blog post surely not written by him but submitted in his name to Bilerico.com, Obama goes even further in concrete terms:

    For my entire career in public life, I have brought the message of GLBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones. No other leading candidate in the race for the Presidency has demonstrated the same commitment to the principle of full equality.

    I support the full and unqualified repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples.

    The "some" who "say" we should only repeal part of DOMA would be Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, the other two candidates with a shot at the Democratic presidential nomination. It's especially encouraging to see the Obama campaign repeat that pledge explicitly because the Human Rights Campaign candidate questionnaire, which was fixed for Hillary, only asked about repeal of the half of DOMA that prohibits federal recognition of gay marriage by the states. Neither Clinton nor Edwards is on board with repealing the other half, which says no state has to give legal recognition to gay marriages from other states. In fact, other than Obama only Dennis Kucinich has gone that far.

    Obama also pledges to fight for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which he refers to in passing as "a law that should never have been passed."  Again, the reference is to Hillary, who as recently as the HRC-Logo event was defending DADT as a necessary "transitional" measure to stop gay witchhunts, though she is now in favor of repeal. Never mind that discharges dramatically increased after Bill Clinton signed the measure into law.

    Still, the significance of these differences will be lost on most gay voters and our allies if Obama doesn't start doing a better job highlighting these differences. It's not "negative campaigning" to use names, as I've done here.

    Related posts:

    "The Obama-Clinton difference"

    "Hillary's Donnie McClurkins"

    "The fix was in for Hillary, take 2"

    "Was the fix in for Hillary?"

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall_2 For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary



    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    1. Greg on Nov 13, 2007 7:12:50 AM:

      I appreciate your thoughtful approach in supporting Senator Obama. That said, for many gay men and lesbians who live in Illinois, his "conversion" to a ardent supporter of gay and lesbian rights is just that. Yes, he opposed DOMA, but initally declared when he ran for the U.S. Senate that he wasn't in favor of repealing it. More important, Illinois became only the 13th state to amend its Human Rights law to protect gays, lesbians and transgendered people. Although state senator Obama signed on to many attempts to amend the law, the main roadblock for years was conservative black pastors who kept the black caucus from voting in favor of the amendment (with their votes, it would have passed in even the once republican controlled senate). Senator Obama played no role in reaching out to those pastors to try to change their opinions. Indeed, the law was amended AFTER Senator Obama left the Illinois Senate, and it was Jesse Jackson, Jr., who played the key role in neutralizing the opposition of conservative black pastors.

      As with his record of "present" and absent votes on other progressive issues in the Illinois legislature, Senator Obama's history of words not matching actions can be troubling.

    1. Andoni on Nov 13, 2007 8:30:28 AM:

      It never ceases to amaze me how people can miss seeing the 99% and only dwell on the 1%.

      Let's see. He was vocally against DOMA in 1996 when it was being considered and passed in Congress, didn't say he would repeal it when he was running for Senate, and now is vocal against it and promises to repeal it, if elected president. I don't see the problem here. Why don't you follow Clintons' (both of them) and Edwards' statements, positions, and actions on DOMA over the same time period and see that they come up way short of Obama's.

      And on the Illinois Human Rights Law, he co-sponsored and pushed hard for its passage while in the Illinois legislature. The fact that it didn't pass until after he became a US Senator doesn't mean he was against us or abandoned us. He was still supporting the proposed law and used his elevated position to do so. I don't understand the point here. He failed? He didn't try hard enough. Again, please compare this record of accomplishment to what gay civil rights bills either Bill or Hillary or John Edwards co-sponsored that got passed.

      I really wonder why so many in our community are so quick to criticize Obama for the littlest things. They can't seem to see the big picture that he is so far better on our issues than any of the other leading candidates. (Kucinich isn't viable.)

      Something else must be going on here, because this just doesn't make sense.

    1. Citizen Crain on Nov 13, 2007 11:23:17 AM:

      Actually, Greg, you're not telling the whole story about Obama's DOMA position from the 2004 Senate campaign. In a December 2003 candidate questionnaire, he checked a box indicating he did not favor repeal of DOMA. But in a January 2004 letter to the gay Windy City Times, he forcefully backed repeal:

      "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 wrote about the inconsistency in a blog post months ago. My gueess then and now is that the candidate questionnaire was a misstatement of his views, since the letter outlined them in much greater detail.

      Regardless, Hillary Clinton has never criticized her husband's support for DOMA and even now only favors half-repeal of it. This policy difference is much more important than quibbling with a 2003 candidate questionnaire probably filled out by some campaign flunkie.

    1. adamblast on Nov 13, 2007 1:13:50 PM:

      He really is significantly further along than Hillary on gay issues. Listening to her defend her husband's anti-gay legacy (anti-gay in outcome, if not in intent) is getting tedious and insulting.

      I still don't know how to get past Barak's careless attitude toward ex-gay preachers, however, or his refusal to deal with the word marriage as a secular construct.

    1. Double T on Nov 13, 2007 2:03:21 PM:

      I guess at this point, I'd like to see someone hold Hillary's feet to fire and ask

      "Why repeal only half?"

    1. DaveNPa on Nov 13, 2007 5:05:49 PM:

      This gets so frustrating! Why do governments think they can "Save Marriage"?!?

      As if somehow denying rights to gays and lesbians will make straights more apt to stay together and increase their morality?!?

      It's equally ludicrious that certain democratic leaders won't come clean because they are worried about losing votes over this one issue.

      The 10% or so that we make up of American society hardly accounts for the societal downslide that the country is experiencing. Although those opposed to giving us union or marriage rights attribute it all to us.

      I'm not a one issue voter, but for me, the candidate must have an clear answer to the issue, rather than talking out of both sides of their mouths. (Hi Hillary, Edwards!)

    1. Double T on Nov 13, 2007 6:10:51 PM:

      Our government does it all the time.

      1)Fighting for Peace
      2)Looking for WMD
      3)Social Security

      What needs to happen is to correctly label these people for who they are.

      In the early years, the opposition to abortion was shocked at how little support they got. They researched the problem. At the time they were the Anti-Abortion Group, turns out Americans can't stand anti anything. They changed their name to ProLife.

      No one is Anti-Gay Marriage. They know if they were, it would be legal in all 50 states tomorrow.

      Victory is not about being most right, it's about most clever.

    1. Greg on Nov 14, 2007 6:26:07 AM:


      Let's agree to disagree on a nuance. When he filled out the candidate's questionnaire the question was clear and he defended it at a candidate forum sponsored by the questioning organization. Obama says that he heard from many in the gay and lesbian community that his position was "hurtful" so he changed his mind and wrote the letter. Until Blair Hull's campaign imploded, polling showed Hull and Chico with the largest gay and lesbian vote.

      I have followed Senator Obama's career for years, particularly on progressive issues. Although he has been a consistent "supporter" of progressive issues, his unreliable voting record (too many "present" and missed votes); his evolution on issues; and his fitting too comfortably into the Chicago political machine once denounced by a great speaker to power, Harold Washington, has never sat well with me.

      Keep up the good work.

    1. David on Feb 3, 2008 6:15:08 PM:

      Barack Obama, U.S. Senator (D-IL), stated in a June 5, 2006 article titled "Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the Federal Marriage Amendment" on his U.S. Senate website:

      "Today, we take up the valuable time of the U.S. Senate with a proposed amendment to our Constitution [the Federal Marriage Amendemnt] that has absolutely no chance of passing...
      Now, I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue. And I should say that personally, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman...

      I agree with most Americans, with Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Cheney, with over 2,000 religious leaders of all different beliefs, that decisions about marriage, as they always have, should be left to the states."
      June 5, 2006 Barack Obama

      It sounds like the same thing on both parties.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    © Citizen Crain - All Rights Reserved | Design by E.Webscapes Design Studio | Powered by: TypePad