Saturday, December 19, 2009

A blog entry I didn't want to write

It really saddens me to write this entry.  In October, I argued that we should be patient with the Democrats and President Obama about LGBT issues.  I'm still willing to be patient in repealing Don't Ask, Don't tell as well as the Defense of Marriage Act. I know President Obama has lots on his plate.  I'm willing to be patient, but my patience is wearing thin.  Recent news reports say that Democratic leaders will not address ANY LGBT concerns next year, for fear of losing seats in the Congressional elections.  Newsflash: after the health reform mess, Afghanistan, the lack of support for LGBT issues, the Democratic base might very well stay home next November.  We can actually learn from Republicans.  George Bush always rallied his base when things got tough.  The base responded.

Again, I'm patient about legislation.

But I'm not patient about obstructionist tactics that remind me far too much of the Bush Administration.  Case in  point: the recent resistance from the Obama Administration to follow a court order and allow health benefits for the partner of a lesbian federal employee.   Here are the facts:

1.  Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (left) of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that one of its employees, Karen Golinski, (photo right; in pink) was eligible for spousal benefits for her partner.

2. The Obama Administration intervened, citing a potential violation of the "Defense of Marriage Act" -- a law Candidate Obama called "abhorent" during the election and promised to repeal.

3. Chief Judge Kozinski  -- a Reagan appointee! -- further concluded in a court order that, as described by Lambda Legal, "the Ninth Circuit MUST not discriminate against Karen Golinski with respect to the health insurance benefits portion of her compensation, and that the Separation of Powers doctrine of the U.S. Constitution authorizes the court to take appropriate steps to treat its workers fairly, and prevents employees of the Executive Branch from interfering with the functioning of the Judicial Branch in these circumstances."

4. The Obama Administration has ignored the court order and refuses to provide health care benefits to the lesbian couple.

I can be patient about laws.  I can even be patient about marriage.  It's one thing not to advance the agenda.  It's quite another to obstruct progress.  As of today, the Obama Administration has refused to even engage in legal arguments about the case.  Instead, it has stated -- on Friday afternoons, the dead time in the media -- that it will not comply with the court order.  If this were an issue that was more publicized, it could be considered a constitutional crisis. 

This attitude saddens me beyond belief.  When I voted for Candidate Obama, I knew he would disappoint many of us because expectations were just too high.  I understood that.  I knew that he would try to govern from the middle.  Still, my vote for him was the most enthusiastic vote of my life.  What I didn't expect -- and what shocks me -- is that his administration would actually be a roadblock to equality.

I hope the administration comes to its senses and realizes that it is acting in complete contradiction to the the "hope" message that propelled Barack Obama to victory.  If the Democrats regain their footing and realize what they should be about, I'll gladly be with them.  Until then, the "Proud to be a Democrat" bumper sticker comes off my car.

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