Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Christine M. Flowers: Gays & Obama: The thrill is gone

SO, TO RECAP: A) Iran is imploding; B) North Korea is playing chicken with neutrons; C) Detroit is basically closed for business; and D) we still haven't figured out that health-care thing.


A) Iran is imploding; B) North Korea is playing chicken with neutrons; C) Detroit is basically closed for business; and D) we still haven't figured out that health-care thing.

But to gays and lesbians, none of that is as important as getting their feelings hurt by the guy most of them helped put in office, the one who has to deal with E) All of the above.

This week, the Justice Department filed a brief in defense of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton. It denies federal benefits to same-sex couples, just like it denies them to all unmarried couples.

It would seem to be constitutional since it treats all unmarried couples equally. Of course, there are going to be legal scholars like Dr. Howard Dean, who said on "The Rachel Maddow Show" that it violates something called the "Reciprocal Contracts Act." (I think he meant the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution, which requires states to recognize the laws of other states under certain circumstances, but we'll give Mr. Yeaaaaaah! a pass on that one.)

States may deny recognition to anything that violates their own policy, even if a sister state says it's OK. Different standards for driver's licenses, lawyers or marriage are OK.

That doesn't wash with the GLBT community. They've sued to declare DOMA unconstitutional, and Justice filed a brief defending the law. That would be President Obama's DOJ, headed by Obama's attorney general. And that has many gays and lesbians in an uproar since they appear to believe the president needs to drop everything, take a big political risk and deal with their issues right now- or else.

There have been the same threatening noises used against anyone who helped pass California's Prop 8 last year, the same ones used against the Mormons, Prop 8 financial supporters and former Miss California Carrie Prejean.

Gay activists warned they won't vote for him the next time around. Postings in the blogosphere are calling for an uprising. And they've even attacked Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the most openly gay congressman in Washington, because he agreed that the DOJ should defend the laws passed by his august body.

The gay community is also upset at the language in the brief, which it says compares same-sex unions to incest and pedophilia. One activist wrote that the document was "despicable and gratuitously homophobic" while another accused Frank of being an "idiot and betraying gays."

Actually, the point of that reference was to show that there are a number of types of relationships that are not recognized by the federal government (including plain old shacker-uppers), and since gay unions are legal in but a few states and their legality is still the subject of fierce legal, political and social debate, it's a bit premature to start talking about equal-protection violations.

But that doesn't mean they're not going to try to get DOMA repealed, which is their right. The problem is, they're spitting-mad at Obama, who, to be fair, has an awful lot of other things on his plate that may be way more important right now than attempting to unilaterally solve the gay-marriage issue.

While those in the GLBT community are certainly justified in trying to fight for what they believe to be their civil rights, it's unnerving to watch as the activist leaders engage in a collective whine of "What about us?" when issues that affect a much larger portion of the population of beleaguered Americans are reaching critical mass.

On the bright side, they do understand that identity politics don't play well when people are losing jobs and homes, soldiers are dying, a renegade nuclear state is rattling its warheads and a Farsi-speaking madman is doing his Dr. Strangelove imitation.

So they're trying to tie in their agenda with the bigger picture. As in claiming that "Don't ask, don't tell" is a major reason our armed forces are starving for recruits.

A person's sexual orientation is irrelevant to whether he can perform effectively in the military, so that's a straw man.

The army doesn't ask whom you love. So why the need to tell?

Apparently, being able to be open about your sexuality in the barracks is just as important as making sure North Korea doesn't engage in war games, so gays and lesbians are miffed at the man who hasn't fulfilled their hopes on that and many other scores.

And even though Obama has now extended some domestic benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers, they're still mad. Honestly, cut the guy a break. He's got a world to run.

He'll get back to you later. *

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer. E-mail