This hasn't been a really good week for someone like me, an early and eager gay supporter of Barack Obama. My patience had already been stretched thin by the hemming and hawing on repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and was pretty much broken by the administration's surprisingly zealous brief in defending the (indefensible) Defense of Marriage Act. Beccaue nothing says "Change you can believe in" like "Your marriage is morally equivalent to incest."
I was backstage when OPM head John Berry gave his speech at Sunday's Capital Pride festival, and listening to him speak was simultaneously energizing and depressing. Energizing because Berry is an even better federal-level representative than Bob Hattoy (bless his soul) was during the Clinton years; depressing because he spouted a defense of the Obama DOJ's execrable brief in support of DOMA. Yes, I get the argument that the leader of the executive branch of government may sometimes be compelled to defend laws passed by the legislative branch that it may not agree with. But this idea that Obama's people are trying to force down our throats -- that for Obama's Department of Justice to do anything but write the most egregiously homophobic brief possible would have been a violation of their sacred constitutional duty -- is simply mindbogglingly stupid and offensive. A part of me feels sorry for Berry having to mouth the words; another part of me is angry with him for playing along with the script.
If nothing else, the backlash from the LGBT community over the DOMA brief may have acheived the seemingly impossible task of waking the Obama administration to the fact that, hey, there are a lot of homosexuals out here who took you at your word and expected you to actually DO something other than sending out your press secretary to stumble over the most basic of questions about our rights as U.S. citizens. In his speech at Captial Pride, Berry promised some big action beyond hate crimes on our issues, soon. If that comes through in some tangible way, then I'll be back in the fold (as I've said before, with the American re-discovery of such basic concepts as diplomacy and rational regulation of the economy, I'm feeling good about Obama on just about everything non-LGBT related -- you know, everything other than my basic humanity).
But, Democrats being what they are, someone has to rush in and stamp down the tender shoots of optimism that had begun to sprout in my cynical worldview. Or, less loquaciously, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to be a fucking ass on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaking at a press conference Monday said he has no plans to introduce a bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" in the Senate.
"I haven't identified any sponsors," he said. "My hope is that it can be done administratively."
A Democratic aide later clarified that Reid was speaking about the possibility of using an executive order to suspend discharges or perhaps halting enforcement of the policy by changing departmental regulations within the Department of Defense.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has continually said in recent months that President Barack Obama believes the only "durable solution" to repealing the military's gay ban would be to do so through legislative action.
Senator Reid also indicated that he is waiting on the House of Representatives to take action on the bill that was introduced there in March.
"If the House moves on this," he said, "I would be happy to take it up."
(Thanks to Kerry Eleveld for this one.)
I have been angry -- and rightfully so -- at Obama over the past few weeks. I'm even angrier at this idiocy from Reid. Seventy percent -- more than two-thirds -- of Americans support repealing DADT. A majority of freaking evangelicals support repealing DADT, for god's sake, but Reid wants to pussyfoot around it like it's a radioactive turd from Chernobyl?
If Harry Reid and, frankly, Nancy Pelosi, are the best options that Democrats have to offer us as gays and lesbians at this point, then it's time to turn off the financial spigot. You may not have the option or desire to support an Republican alternative, but if the best Reid, et al, can offer us on LGBT issues is cowardice, then at least let us offer apathy in return.