"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Gay Blogging: (Gasp!) Friday Edition!

Two topics today. The first is "The fierce urgency of whenever" (and thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the title).

This is quite possibly the strongest post I've ever seen from Andrew Sullivan. He echoes most of my own feelings on Obama and gay rights:

As for the HIV ban, legislatively lifted by overwhelming numbers of Republicans and Democrats almost a year ago, this is the state of play from an Obama HHS spokesman:
“The Department of Health and Human Services has submitted for OMB review a notice of proposed rule-making to implement this change.”

Translation: we're doing the bare minimum to make us look no worse than Bush, but we have no real interest in this and are letting the bureaucracy handle it, and we guarantee nothing. On gay servicemembers, the president is writing personal notes to those he has fired and intends to continue firing. Will he write some personal notes to the people with HIV he deports? Will he write personal notes to the gay spouses suddenly without a home or their late spouse's savings or forced by his administration to relocate abroad because he has no intention of actually fulfilling his promises?

I recall my old, now dead, friend Bob Hattoy, who toiled in the Clinton administration. He was going to write a memoir of working with people who thought of homosexual rights as wonderful things to say you support (especially if you're fundraising or at a Hollywood dinner party) but far, far too controversial to ever do anything about, let alone risk anything for. In the end, of course, the Clintons enacted a slew of brutally anti-gay measures - passing DOMA, doubling the rate of gay discharges from the military, signing the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants - and expected standing ovations as pioneers of civil rights. The pathetic gay rights leaders gave it to them, so delighted were they to have their checks cashed. The proposed title of Bob's book was a summary of the priorities of the Clinton years:
It's The Economy, Faggot.

As you might expect, most of us in Gay Blogistan are agreeing with Sullivan. Just a sample: John Aravosis:

I disagree with Andrew about the value of the Hate Crimes amendment. Having said that, he's right about one thing. It's the least important of our civil rights priorities at the moment, and I fear it may be the only thing we get in the next 4, or 8, years. And rest assured, it will be lauded over our heads to show us "how much" has been done for us, when in fact, it isn't that much compared to DOMA, DADT, ENDA and marriage - all of which, I fear, will be abandoned.

Pam Spaulding:

What would be welcome is a president willing to discuss our issues openly so they can be debated honestly. He's now silent. On purpose. Or worse, sending out his press secretary to fumble before the press corps with bullsh*t answers.

Here's Dan Savage:

See? Obama has acknowledged the breakthroughs in civil rights for gay Americans! He told a joke about it at the White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend. (You were there, Andrew, didn't you catch it?) Barack Obama condescended to use marriage equality as a punch line; he made, essentially, a Chuck & Larry joke about two straight dudes—Obama and Axelrod—running off to Iowa to "make it official" with the queers and their "partners." And that's hilarious, you see, because Obama and Axelrod aren't actually homos! So they don't need to go to Iowa to make it official! They can get married—to women—in all fifty states! HA!

The more I think about the joke Obama told at the WHCD the more ticked off I get. We're witnessing rapid and historic progress in the fight for gay equality and Barack Obama, who campaigned on our issues and described himself as a "fierce advocate" of gay and lesbian equality, hasn't acknowledged the breakthroughs in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in a setting or a with comments that are in any way equal to the significance of this historic moment. The best he can do—all he's willing to do—is toss off an Adam-Sandler-level joke.

Frankly, I think an "F" is too generous.

The question here, by the way, is not that Obama has not repealed this, that, and the other during his first hundred days, but that he is backing off of gay issues -- and his campaign rhetoric about them -- at full speed. Thanks to Sullivan for calling bullshit on that whole scenario.

In case you missed it, here's my previous post on this issue, with particular reference to DADT.

The second topic is New Hampshire, same-sex marriage, and the drive to expand already adequate protections for religious organizations. This is one where I don't agree with Sullivan:

Readers know I favor strong legal language to ensure that no one's religious freedom can in any way be curtailed by civil equality for gay couples. That's why I think governor Lynch of New Hampshire is right to sign on to marriage equality - as he just did - as long as the following language is attached.

Sullivan includes Lynch's proposed amendment (which it appears the legislature has accepted) in his post. It strikes me as overbroad and loaded with the potential for litigation in aeternam. Dale Carpenter also sees some problems:

Here are a couple of initial thoughts. First, as broad as it is, the governor's proposed language does not apply to state workers. Second, it does not apply to "any individual," but only to those individuals "managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with" a covered religious entity. Both of those are commendable limitations on the reach of the exemption, for reasons I've discussed previously. But the "in conjunction with" phrase — covering individuals and nonprofits associated in some way with covered religious entities — is potentially quite broad. Unlike other exemptions, it's not clear to whom it's supposed to apply.

Trust me -- the anti-gay right will try to make that section as broad as possible, enough to include anyone who ever set foot in a church. Scott Lemieux has, I think, the right take on Lynch's maneuver.:

And I think there's a strategic lesson here: just add some language to legislation ensuring that things that nobody was going to do anyway can't be done, and there goes the emerging silly pretext for opposing SSM.

Jeremy Hooper points out something that puts the whole thing in perspective:

Weird, str8 atheists have been civilly marrying for eons without special stipulations

The best footnote I can think of in this week's marriage notes is this one from Autumn Sandeen at Pam's House Blend:

We're all the same people, it's just that we think differently or we were born differently, and these people should be treated the same way as you would treat somebody else.

--Ethan, an eight year old organizing a marriage equality rally in Denver, Colorado

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