Thursday, June 18, 2009

OBAMA AND BARNEY FRANK: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE WE DON'T NEED ENEMIES

JUNE 24TH UPDATE TAKEN FROM AmericaBlog: Obama won't use executive power to end gay discharges -- despite request from 77 members of Congress:

Via Kerry Eleveld from The Advocate, the White House once again made it very clear that the President will continue to refuse to put an immediate stop the Don't Ask Don't Tell discharges via a stop-loss order - he will only consider a legislative solution, meaning, let someone else take the blame:
The White House has responded to an inquiry from The Advocate about a letter sent from 77 House members Monday urging President Barack Obama to take immediate action to stop the investigations of "don't ask, don't tell" violations.

"President Obama remains committed to a legislative repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which he believes will provide a durable and lasting solution to this issue. He welcomes the commitment of these members to seeing Congress take action," read the statement.


[For the full post, see here.]

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On the morning of June 17th:

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, one of the nation’s leading gay rights champions, blasted President Obama yesterday over a controversial anti-gay marriage court filing and is calling on the commander in chief to explain himself. [See here.]

Now, read the following from AmericaBlog:

Well, it seems a trip to the Oval Office is all openly gay congressman Barney Frank needs to stab his community in the back. After criticizing the DOJ's anti-gay DOMA brief this morning, Frank did a 180 this evening and lauded the brief, which invoked incest and pedophilia. Frank now thinks the brief is just super.

Frank claims that he gave a newspaper reporter his negative opinion of the brief without actually having read it....

Our senior most gay member of Congress actually said that had Obama argued in court that DOMA is unconstitutional, that would be akin to George Bush not going to court to, for example, get a warrant to spy on Americans. Get it? Defending gay people is like spying illegally. But comparing us to incest and pedophilia, using what I'm told was pretty much the original brief the Bush administration used against us years ago, is somehow a sign that we're better than the Republicans - by repeating their arguments in court.


[For the full post, see here.]

Barney Frank, as intelligent as he is, is not immune to co-optation and exercising the well known tactic of political expediency. Just as he threw Transgender people under the bus when ENDA was being discussed in Congress, he has broadened that tactic to, in this case, throw Gay people in general under the bus for reasons that are currently unknown.

To seek to "justify" throwing Transgender people under the bus when ENDA was being discussed, he said the following:

...it is never possible for us at any given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices. But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad. Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic choices we must make to get there is a great advance. [See here.]

And his decision to delete Transgender people from the bill to gain non-employment discrimination turned out to be both a betrayal and, still, futile for the passage of that bill! Apparently he hasn't learned from that mistake, as he appears to remain a typical politician who continues to view civil rights in political and not in moral terms!

And full equality for LGBT people is, if anything, a supremely moral issue! Indeed, it is the major moral issue of our time!

"Politics is the art of compromise," and there can be no compromise when it comes to the acquisition of full and equal civil rights!

In a press release on his site, Barney Frank explained his turnabout from morning to evening on the federal court case in this way:

PRESS RELEASE

Congressman Frank Corrects Media Reports on his Response to DOMA Brief
June 17, 2009

Congressman Barney Frank issued the following statement in response to a newspaper story regarding his position on the brief by the Department of Justice about Smelt v. United States.

“When I was called by a newspaper reporter for reaction to the administration’s brief defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, I made the mistake of relying on other people’s oral descriptions to me of what had been in the brief, rather than reading it first. It is a lesson to me that I should not give in to press insistence that I comment before I have had a chance fully to inform myself on the subject at hand.”

“Now that I have read the brief, I believe that the administration made a conscientious and largely successful effort to avoid inappropriate rhetoric. There are some cases where I wish they had been more explicit in disavowing their view that certain arguments were correct, and to make it clear that they were talking not about their own views of these issues, but rather what was appropriate in a constitutional case with a rational basis standard – which is the one that now prevails in the federal courts, although I think it should be upgraded.”

“It was my position in that conversation with the reporter that the administration had no choice but to defend the constitutionality of the law. I think it is unwise for liberals like myself, who were consistently critical of President Bush’s refusal to abide by the law in cases where he disagreed with it to now object when President Obama refuses to follow the Bush example. It is the President’s job to try to change the law, but it is also his obligation to uphold and defend it when it has been enacted by appropriate processes. It would not be wise, in my judgment, for those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who sympathize with the fight for our rights, to argue for a precedent that says that executives who disagreed politically with the purpose of the law should have the option of refusing to defend it in a constitutional case.”

“I strongly opposed DOMA when it was adopted and I will continue to fight for changes. I support very strongly the lawsuit brought by the people at Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) that make the cogent argument that DOMA’s provision denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages blatantly violates the equal protection clause. And I will work with the Obama administration as they have promised to do to enact laws protecting LGBT people from hate crimes, from job discrimination, and from discrimination in the military. I will also be critical when I think inappropriate language is used. But after rereading this brief, I do not think that the Obama administration should be subject to harsh criticism in this instance.”
[See here.]

I don't for a minute believe that a smart guy like Frank didn't read that bill before commenting on it! I believe that his turnaround is based on nothing but his view of political expediency that he showed in the ENDA debacle.

His latest use of this tactic of political expediency (as he seems to see it) just goes to again show that we can't count on "liberal" politicians, despite their campaign and other rhetoric, to support full and equal civil rights for LGBT people!

In fact, regarding Obama, no one should have ever believed that he was a particular friend of Gay people when he had Rick Warren give the invocation at his inaugural ceremony; had homophobe Donnie McClurkin along during part of his campaigning; has spoken about his belief that marriage is to only be between a man and a woman. Also, although Obama promised to rescind DADT (which as President he can easily do), he has yet to show any sign of desiring to live up to that campaign promise.

In any case, it was Barney Frank who said regarding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia:

Beyond exerting official power against homosexuals, Scalia is an outspoken and high-profile homophobe. After the aforementioned sarcastic remarks about gay people's relationships, can anyone doubt how little respect he has for LGBT Americans? Even if no case touching gay rights ever came before him, his comments from the bench (that employment non-discrimination is some kind of "homosexual agenda," etc.) and within our very walls are unacceptable to any self-respecting gay person or principled opponent of discrimination. The idea that I should have treated a man with such repugnant views with deference because he is a high government official evinces either a dangerously un-American acceptance of authority or insensitivity to the gay community's grievances." [See here]

Yet, who is worse? Scalia who is clearly a homophobe whom we know is likely to vote against equal rights for Gay people, or the Obamas and Franks of the political world who can say one thing but, when push comes to shove, defer to people and/or forces that work against full and equal civil rights for LGBT people?

Frankly, I prefer to deal with a Scalia because I know where he stands, and there is no mystification or false hope generated by his rhetoric and expressed values. Hence, there is likely generated a fire in the belly in those who take equal rights seriously enough to confront those with values such as those held by a Scalia, and meaningfully agitate for the change needed to gain equal rights.

With an Obama or a Frank, we don't know where they stand, and they give false hope to people who feel they have reason to blindly trust them and trust their rhetoric. Regarding Frank, in the morning he speaks against Obama's Dept. of Justice anti-Gay DOMA brief, and then later in the day he strongly supports that brief.

It is only when sufficient political pressure is brought to bear, which entails coordinated grassroots, street, and organizational activism, that full and equal rights will be acquired, and not one bit before.

And, without such activism, if anyone is counting on any politician, "liberal" or not, to fight for those equal rights, he/she is going to wait for a very, very, long time!
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4 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

Barney Frank turns my stomach. He has definitely outlasted his usefulness in the US Congress. The best thing that could happen to him would be turning out of office. Maybe back in Boston, he can find some integrity again.

There are conflicting reports about Obama's memorandum extending certain spousal benefits to LesBiGay employees. I heard on NPR this morning that the memo expires with Obama's term in office. However, The Washington Blade reports that it doesn't expire. Whatever the case, it only affects Gay Americans who are Federal employees, and the benefits aren't equal to those of Straight workers. It's definitely a handful of crumbs, but certain Gay "leaders" are already lapping them up gratefully.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks Don Charles. As I've written before, "equality" is like pregnancy. One can't have a little bit of either!

Obama's feet (and all "liberal" politicians' feet) must be held to the fire until all that is within his power to enable Gay people to acquire equal rights has been accomplished. That means the immediate repeal of DADT and his starting the ball rolling in Congress to remove DOMA.

He might have thought that he could mollify Gay people's anger at his anticipated assorted machinations by designating June 2009 "Gay Pride Month."

Fortunately, it didn't work, and the revulsion that has been expressed with his recent betrayal and machinations must not abate until full and equal rights are won.

Regarding Barney Frank, he, like Obama, is a typical "liberal" politician who will only respond to threats to their credibility and subsequent re-election to office.

Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

All those Gay people who jumped to Barney Frank's defense when he defended stripping transfolk out of ENDA . . . I wonder how many will do the same now that he says it's OK to compare Gay relationships to incest and pedophilia in a legal brief? Is what's good for the goose good for the gander, too?

Jerry Maneker said...

There are always, as Malcolm X said, "House Negroes," Don Charles! I expect a lot of "professional activists" and others will find excuses to justify the actions of Obama and Frank.

However, the history of virtually all civil rights movements show that it is only the "Field Negroes," those willing to pursue the civil rights fight until all of those rights are won, who make possible the acquisition of those rights.

No one should settle for being treated as a second class citizen, and if anyone, Straight or Gay, settles for incrementalism, or urges "caution" and "patience," he/she can never be counted on to give any meaningful help in this civil rights struggle. Best wishes, Jerry.