If you follow me on Twitter, you already know I'm angry, pissed off, furious, and in a state of rage over the fucked up and disgusting arguments the Department of Justice used to defend the Orwellianly-named "Defense of Marriage Act" -- a defense released in all its hateful glory on the very anniversary of the day that the ruling in Loving vs. the State of Virginia was handed down in 1967, overturning laws banning inter-racial marriage.
I'm not alone. From the highest heights of A-list, connected, inside-the-beltway DC powerhouse LGBT orgs to the most infuriated queer commenter (or ally) on the political blogs, we're all angry. Disappointed. Shocked. And did I mention "angry"?
From the frequently hot-headed John Aravosis at AMERICAblog:
We just got the brief from reader Lavi Soloway. It's
despicable, and gratuitously homophobic. It reads as if it were written
by one of George Bush's top political appointees. I cannot state
strongly enough how damaging this brief is to us. Obama didn't just
argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable.
That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn't motivated by any anti-gay
animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and
Lawrence shouldn't be interpreted to give us rights in any other area
(which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that
DOMA doesn't discriminate against us because it also discriminates
about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get
married and we can't).
He actually argued that the courts shouldn't consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.
From Pam Spaulding:
While this may not be the perfect test case for DOMA, the Obama administration, in its defense of the Act, has filed a brief that is a roadmap for every fundnut anti-gay argument against the right of same-sex couples to marry.... Friends, is this is the watershed mark, the line in the sand, the utter moral betrayal of this administration in black and white? Does this mean that we are not only expendable to this Administration, but that it has decided we can also be vilified as a constituency at will and not receive any blowback? That's balls. A brief with language like this could have been written by Liberty Counsel it's so homophobic; that it's written in legalese doesn't blunt the arguments being made here. It will be used to cause lasting damage to future civil rights gains.
From the normally beyond-temperate Human Rights Campaign:
[DOMA amounts to] a cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage. DOMA maintains federal policies that have long sought to promote the traditional and uniformly-recognized form of marriage, recognizes the right of each State to expand the traditional definition if it so chooses, but declines to obligate federal taxpayers in other States to subsidize a form of marriage that their own states do not recognize.
“Same-sex couples and their families are not seeking subsidies,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We pay taxes equally, contribute to our communities equally, support each other equally, pay equally into Social Security, and participate equally in our democracy. Equal protection is not a handout. It is our right as citizens,” he said.
HRC also joined with the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce in another statement:
We are also extremely disturbed by a new and nonsensical argument the administration has advanced suggesting that the federal government needs to be "neutral" with regard to its treatment of married same-sex couples in order to ensure that federal tax money collected from across the country not be used to assist same-sex couples duly married by their home states.
There is nothing "neutral" about the federal government's discriminatory denial of fair treatment to married same-sex couples: DOMA wrongly bars the federal government from providing any of the over one thousand federal protections to the many thousands of couples who marry in six states. This notion of "neutrality" ignores the fact that while married same-sex couples pay their full share of income and social security taxes, they are prevented by DOMA from receiving the corresponding same benefits that married heterosexual taxpayers receive. It is the married same-sex couples, not heterosexuals in other parts of the country, who are financially and personally damaged in significant ways by DOMA. For the Obama administration to suggest otherwise simply departs from both mathematical and legal reality.
When President Obama was courting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters, he said that he believed that DOMA should be repealed. We ask him to live up to his emphatic campaign promises, to stop making false and damaging legal arguments, and immediately to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA and ensure that every married couple in America has the same access to federal protections.
I'm not stupid. I get that the Department of Justice normally has to defend acts of Congress. But they don't always. Bill Clinton's DOJ didn't defend the provisions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that would have restricted speech about abortion.
Even if they felt they had to defend it, they didn't have to do it this way. I'm not an attorney, but many who are say this case could have been best defended by focusing narrowly on standing. It instead made a number of other kinds of arguments, based on things not even brought up in the original pleading, and that were, incidentally, inflammatory, homophobic, offensive, insulting and deeply, deeply painful to gay and lesbian Americans and our families.
And even if -- which I do not concede -- they somehow "had to" do that, there was not one mitigating statement from the White House, not one sign they'd given this a moment's thought, ever, of how this would feel to us, what it would be like to hear or read those words coming from someone we thought of as a friend, if not the "fierce advocate" he claims to be.
That failure is made a thousand times worse because not only did Obama campaign on an explicit promise that he would fight to repeal DOMA, but he has been utterly silent on it since then -- until this statement.
I'm not one who jumps all over Obama for not getting things done fast enough or not focusing enough on my issues. His stance on Don't Ask, Don't Tell is unfathomable to me, but until yesterday I was willing to concede at least the chance that he had a plan, and that if he did, it was a plan based on more information than I could possibly have.
But today, all I feel is betrayed. See, I didn't expect Obama to work miracles. I wasn't looking for him to fix the world or walk on water. But he promised he was going to repeal DOMA, not defend it in gratuitously offensive and degrading terms.
And see, I believed that promise. I didn't have a timeline I was holding him to, like some LGBT activists. I wasn't sitting here going, me. First. Now. But as Nietzsche said,"What upsets me is not that you lied to me, but that from now on I can no longer believe you."
I'm 50 years old. I've seen a lot of things. But I believed him when he said DOMA had to fall, and now I don't believe anymore. And few things hurt like that.