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The Early Predictions of 2010: Gays and Lesbians Are Sitting It Out

by Mark My Words on December 21, 2009 · 12 comments

Firedoglake’s Teddy Partridge has an early prediction pulled out of the uber-conservative Newsweek magazine’s #9 position for the 2010 election:

Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he’s on record as favouring civil unions over marriage). But they’ve received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won’t pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom-and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energised conservative base that’s venomously opposed to gay marriage.


The GLBT dream sheet from the 2008 election has been burnt shortly after it was revealed that HRC Chair Joe Solmonese threw the GLBT agenda under the proverbial bus shortly after Obama’s inauguration. In fact, by April 2009, even the GLBT community’s “patron saint” Barney Frank (D-MA) was alluding to a repeal of DADT in 2010 as a piece of burnt toast offered to the starving family dog.

The President promised, (and I do liberally quote!):
“I.will.end…Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.

Anybody out there willing to believe Newsweek, or Obama?

Adam Bink of OpenLeft criticizes Newsweek’s prediction artfully with:

   (a) Obama’s approval rating among Republicans in general has averaged between 10% and 20% over the last several months, and even hit single digits. So I have no doubt it’s even worse among the conservative base, teabaggers, etc.
   Moving on progressive issues, aka keeping your promises, will always piss off conservatives, and that is part of the ballgame. Inaction on progressive issues isn’t going to suddenly make conservatives happier. And if you’re worried about making them mad, LGBT issues are no worse than any of his other major initiatives, like health care.

   (b) If Newsweek is thinking about about energized voters, did they happen to notice an already energized LGBT movement that is pissed as hell at inaction and repeated slights by this Administration? As Mike Lux pointed out, 1994 was lost in major part because the base stays home. If Obama and Democrats in Congress really want to know what, to quote George W. Bush, a “thumpin'” feels like, they should take no action on LGBT issues and watch scores of LGBT people stay home.

Teddy Partridge points out (accurately, I might add):

No action on DADT. No action on DOMA. No action on ENDA. No action on immigration equality for separated families. No action on adoption rights.

Further discouraging an already sceptical and disaffected component within the demoralised Democratic base seems like a wonderful strategy for handing control of Congress to the GOP/BlueDog coalition.

My husband life-partner Bruce, often criticises me for my impatience with Obama and Howard Dean’s alleged “Progressive movement”.

“Look what he’s got to deal with!  He inherited a nightmare!  Give him some time to catch up!

Well, he’s been given a year.  How much time is necessary when you compare the fact that it’s been forty years since the Stonewall Riots?

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1960’s missive about the “tranquillising drug of gradualism”

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

And it’s that tranquillity of gradualism that the GLBT will be impatient with when it comes to next year’s election.  Another betrayal by Joe Solmonese?  Another year of patience asked by Obama and Barney Frank?  

Just last November, Congressman Frank sputtered a horrific lame-over in a report by The Advocate regarding Obama’s Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:

Anecdotally, Frank recalled an incident earlier this year when Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a statement to reporters suggesting that repeal was still an open question.

“There was a point where Gates said, ‘If we repeal don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and the next day he said, ‘When we repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” said Frank. “That’s because Rahm called him up. The White House has been consistently committed.”

Obama has to use Congressman Frank and his favorite mook to continue that tranquil pill of gradualism?

Who could blame the gay community if they sat at home in next year’s election?  They’ve been no slouch when it comes to chipping into the Democrat’s victorious wins in 2006 and Obama’s election in 2008.  

Everywhere throughout the political spectrum, the GLBT has proven to be extremely influential in progressive politics, regardless of the patronizing attitudes they’ve faced from their conservative counterparts. And yet, they’ve faced that same patronizing attitude when it comes from their own political party.

The biggest trophy the GLBT can claim in any recent headlines is Obama’s favorite pastor Rick Warren of California’s McMega-Church when he came out to condemned Uganda’s ruling that not only criminalised homosexuality, but ruled to apply the death penalty for those accused.  (VIDEO HERE)  And the scornful snicker comes from the by-line:

Warren also defensively suggested he would prefer to work behind the scenes, but he was forced to go to the media due to accusations that he was associated with the effort in Uganda. He said “this terrible bill” is “unjust, it’s extreme, and it’s un-Christian.”

I’m willing to bet that Pastor Rick is very thankful Obama’s Rahm Emanuel didn’t “give him a call” to work in front of the scenes, no matter how “unjust, or un-Christian” the Ugandan government might behave.

A very nervous and uncomfortable Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton on the subject:

With a lack of ambition like that, could you blame us if we stayed home next November?  How ambivalent does the Obama White House need to be when it comes to GLBT issues these days?  What a pathetic performance when compared to silly controversies by the Bush Administration advocacy issues like Terry Schiavo  and President Clinton’s Elian Gonzalez borders on shameful at best.  

What does the Democratic Party have to offer the GLBT anymore than they’ve pretended to offer in the past?  …”Political shelter” from the GOP’s homophobia?

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