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    January 18, 2008

    Déjà Birch all over again

    Posted by: Chris

    Birchclinton 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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    1. Michael Bedwell on Jan 18, 2008 8:27:57 PM:

      Mr. Crain. Do you read any of our comments or simply immediately dismiss the first indication of respectful disagreement? Trust me. It might briefly trouble your tummy to digest these facts, but in the long run you and your fan club will be better off for it.

      1. "Half repeal of DOMA" is a lavender herring that both Edwards and Obama, but particularly the latter, are spinning as meaningful when it’s not. That other “half”—Section 2—NEVER prevented states from legally recognizing same gender relationships if they WANTED to. And even if it did, Edwards and Obama are both playing the kind of political verbal shell game that you would normally denounce regardless of who was doing it. If you WANT to see through the smoke, they are both on record as STILL supporting a state’s right to refuse to recognize same gender relationships EVEN AFTER a repeal of Section 2. So, again, their position where it matters in operational terms is the SAME AS HILLARY’S. None of them are yet willing to attack the “state’s rights” issue re gay relationships. In addition, given that 45+ states have passed their own DOMAs and/or state constitutional amendments, bragging about Obama or Edwards supporting repeal of Section 2 is like bragging about them wanting to close the proverbial barn door long after the horses have gotten out. Obama has been in Congress two years during which time he has not submitted a bill to repeal any part of DOMA. Care to comment?

      2. DADTDP is, on paper, a better policy than what went before, despite having been aggressively abused/ignored by various military commands. There’s nothing intrinsic to it that has, some claim, empowered a higher percentage [NOT a higher number] of discharges during some of its existence. According to late gays-and-the-military expert Allen Berube, between the beginning of WWII and the late 1980s, the military had managed to discharge some 100,000 gays. “In the three years prior to 1966, the Navy [ALONE] discharged over 1,600 sailors each year for homosexuality.” That’s some 400 MORE than the highest number discharged any given year under DADT. Of course, it should be repealed entirely, but to repeatedly write as if it was something Clinton initiated is simply dishonest. Yes, he could have forced a showdown by still attempting to issue a contrary executive order but even Birch admits Congress would have overridden him. Leonard Matlovich ["When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."], whose 1975 test case first brought the issue to national attention, was one of my best friends so I do not take the issue, or distortion of the facts surrounding it from any quarter, lightly.

      While we find it revealing that you choose to quote someone you normally, and usually accurately, characterize as a devil, here, via Michael Petrelis, is a dissent to the bitch’s, er Birch’s latest tantrum:

      “This thoughtful reply comes from longtime gay legal scholar, and occasional activist, Arthur S. Leonard, who certainly know his stuff, and offers a more balanced picture:

      Liz Birch certainly exaggerates.
      We made important advances under Clinton.
      We got for the first time executive orders protecting executive branch employees from sexual orientation discrimination.
      We got a total revamping of the security clearance process that ended the “special procedures” under which gay people were frequently delayed or denied on security clearances, a real problem for people in technology occupations working for government contractors.
      We got the first openly gay federal judge, the first openly gay ambassador, the first openly gay people occupying positions requiring Senate confirmation (like Roberta Achtenberg), the first openly gay people in senior White House staff positions.
      We got a major advance on asylum policy when Janet Reno adopted as official precedent a decision that gays are a “distinct social group” for purposes of analyzing eligibility for political asylum in the US for people from oppressive countries.
      And we got the first president who did not spout reflexively anti-gay positions from the White House on every issue.
      What we didn’t get, unfortunately, was good pro-gay legislation, and the fault was largely because the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress for 6 out of the 8 years of the Clinton Administration.
      I agree that DADT on the military was a disaster, and that the Defense of Marriage Act represented shameless political calculation by Clinton in his 1996 re-election campaign.
      He calculated, probably correctly, that the only way to take same-sex marriage off the table as a campaign issue (and to avoid a federal constitutional amendment writing a ban on same-sex marriage into the constitution) was to agree to DOMA, which was originally proposed, I believe, by Bob Dole.
      We need to remember that DOMA was passed by a Congress controlled by the Republican Party, not the Democrats (although it is surely true that Democrats, if united against it, could have filibustered it in the Senate).
      We need to think contextually about this and about DADT. I fault Clinton for failing to provide the leadership he should have provided back in 1993 when the military issue exploded. The best explanation is that he was confronted by leading Democrats, especially in the Senate, who told him that letting gays serve openly would not fly politically in Congress.

      Anyone who says we got NOTHING from the Clinton years and were set backwards is oversimplifying and misrepresenting the state of affairs. It is a mixed picture overall, and we made real progress, mainly on fronts that could be controlled solely by the executive branch due to the lack of control by Democrats of the legislative branch.
      We also, importantly, got our first major Supreme Court victory, Romer v. Evans, which was at least party attributable to Clinton’s two Supreme Court appointments, Breyer and Ginsburg, both of whom have been pretty stalwart in supporting gay rights on the Court. (They both voted our way in Lawrence v. Texas, and they both dissented in the Boy Scouts case.) Indeed, all of GW Bush’s Supreme Court appointees are firm opponents of gay rights."

    1. Mark Mead on Jan 18, 2008 9:49:25 PM:

      The HRC hackers acutally are saying that Birch is on the "short list" for Sec of HHS! This is recycled from years ago - time, of course has made this only more silly. As Dennis Miller says...if I shake my head any harder I could mix paint... still the HRC defenders march on....and on... and on..

    1. Wes on Jan 18, 2008 10:50:19 PM:

      I would make the argument that the most signficant legacy that Clinton gave this country was George W. Bush. Had Clinton not gotten his moment(s) of pleasure and stained the blue dress then we would have likely had Gore in 2000 instead of the Pathetic One. Had Clinton not been such a he-man, he would have resigned and let Gore take over. Years of time were wasted with the sniping between the two parties. And nothing but badwill was created by any of it.

      So look around at the problems this country has right now---and they seem countless at times. And then go trace much of it back to a blow job. And let me make the long laundry list of how the Pathetic One--the one in power for the past 7 years-- has damaged GLBTs and (just as important) this country and its long term prospects. On the list, of course, would be the worrisome supreme ct justices he appointed that will far outlast him. So don't tell me what Clinton did. That little short list of things he did is really sad given that he was there for 8 years. And if you even half-heartedly buy my argument that Clinton gave us Bush, then add in the bad things we have been poked with for the last 7 years from the Texas "cowboy wannabe". The end result then is a BIG negative and we are much worse off for ever hearing Clinton's name.

      Given the shape the country is in, there should be no doubt at this point that the Democrat would prevail in Nov. But that is somewhat laughable at the moment because there is plenty of doubt. Especially if it is HRC because her negatives are so high. And also because of something simple: This country is sick --in varying degrees-- with presidents named Clinton or Bush. Most people are hungering for a Lincoln. Unfortunately we have nothing but Nixons running around.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jan 19, 2008 6:54:31 PM:

      Are these people political masochists? How many times do they have to be bamboozled before they figure out that the centrist, triangulating Clinton machine is not going to deliver on gay rights except in the safest, most non-controversial ways.

      Before I start, let me say this…I think it’s disingenuous to suggest that we LGBT folks got nothing (or almost nothing) from Bill Clinton. We made a small amount of progress – mostly in the form of gay executive appointments and some minor legislation. My problem is that Bill Clinton promised us the moon and the stars and then quickly retreated when confronted by the neo-con Republican establishment. He had no principled positions on gay equality; he just knew that making a promises was all he needed to do.

      First, on the subject of DADT, it was arguably better than the previous policy which forbade gays from serving in the military, period. But it was a far cry from the equality he promised. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he decided to sign DOMA in order to curry favor with the Republic congress. His indefensible explanation for that one? “It’s how I was raised.” What a joke. When I voted for Bill Clinton in the 1992 primary, I wasn’t casting a vote for lip-service, half-measures, and political double-speak. I voted for him because he promised to advocate for gay equality.

      And let’s not forget what has happened since he’s been out of office. Remember those news stories and rumors about how Bill Clinton advised John Kerry that he should suport the Federal Marriage Amendment? You know, in order to cut into George Bush’s conservative base? Again, with the Clintons, it's not about peoples' lives, its about what is politically expedient.

      Hillary will not be better on the issue of gay rights. She is a very savvy politician and will only do something if it’s totally safe. When will Ms. Birch, the HRC, and all these centrist, corporate Democrat types learn their lesson? Seriously? How many times does Lucy get to pull the football away from Charlie Brown before he learns not to try and kick it?

      Barack Obama might also fail to deliver. But at least with him, there no history of empty promises to the LGBT community.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 1:55:51 AM:

      Barack Obama might also fail to deliver. But at least with him, there no history of empty promises to the LGBT community.

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