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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?

Alec December 22, 2009 at 9:07 am

I will never be able to understand your pain or anger, as I do not have not had to live the struggles you have. In no way whatsoever do want to minimize your frustration. Even if I cannot feel your pain, I can appreciate it and try and support you. As someone outside the GLBT community I see the Matthew Shepherd hate crimes law as a huge advancement towards gay civil rights. I also see recognition of same sex federal employees for benefits purposes as pretty big.

As a combat veteran I see the continuation of DADT as complete and utter bullshit, and I am part of VoteVets which has taken a hard stance against DADT. I’m trying to be like your husband and remind myself it has only been a year. It kind of sucks to think that we may have even less of a congress next time around though.

I am sorry the pace of reform has been so hurtful to you.

ericf December 22, 2009 at 10:35 am

Alec is right, the hate crimes law seems to be getting ignored, but it was actually a long hard fight to get it passed. Same with same sex federal employee benefits. I have the impression many GLBT have blown off both, and I don’t understand.

I also have to say that repealing DADT isn’t a matter of presidential prerogative. It started that way, but it was enacted into law, so it requires a statutory change. It matters a lot, absolutely, but the economy was in meltdown. We forget that, but we were watching the financial system crash even faster than it did during the depression, and what we have now would have seemed great compared to what would have happened without the emergency measures, including the stimulus. Health care too was in crisis, and surely we can all see that it has sucked the air out of the room on everything else. It’s not the fault of Obama, the House, or the big majority of Senate Democrats that the Senate has become dysfunctional and can’t get much done. I will argue too that financial reform had to be done right now, before Wall Street completely regroups and the public stopped paying attention. Global warming is a crisis and has to be attended to before the elections because with fewer Democrats, there might be no hope of doing anything.

DADT might seem simple and it should be, but it’s going to be another one of these fights to beat the filibuster, and there’s no reason to think winning over the conservadems is going to be any easier than it was on health care. I still want Democrats to move before 2010 not just so rightly pissed-off GLBT don’t stay home, but also because the Republican minorities will almost surely be larger in 2011. Remind those talking of staying home that if the Republicans take over either house, GLBT issues are off the agenda. We’ll be playing defense to protect what rights there are.

So as far as telling congressional Democrats they need to move now, I’m with you 100%, but as far as thinking that you’re going to drop out of the political process because your legislation didn’t pass the first year, sorry, that’s not reasonable. If you could make a case it was just you, that’s different, but the Senate still hasn’t moved on financial reform and global warming, and neither house has moved on EFCA.  

Holly Cairns December 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

DOMA was “for” something, and that is hard to argue against.  If someone had turned it around and called it AGPA (Against Gay People Act) it wouldn’t have passed, I am guessing.

Once again I’ll throw my idea into the ring:  We need to end painful discrimination, now.  The popular vote is ridiculous for this matter.  People are ultimately voting FOR painful discrimination… and if you asked them if they support painful discrimination, they’d probably say “No.”

So, what about this idea (PLEASE read it with an open mind).  Civil unions for everyone.  You, me, my kids, and etc. as recognized by the state.  ”Marriage” will still be defined by the church, but in the end the state recognizes marriage to be the same as a civil union.  

In other words, folks, this should not be about marriage.  It is about much more than that and we should be smart about how we ask for change.  

I believe this is our answer first posted on my site

(Top lawyers such as Boies should be asking for):

-Marriage to be equal to civil unions.
-The state should recognize civil unions, first, and that is the word that would appear on all of our tax forms, for example.
-Marriage between two people would be considered by the state the same as a civil union.
-No one can be discriminated against for being in a civil union
-The church would define “marriage” thus we avoid religious freedom issues
-GLBT would have to pick up the marriage argument within the church, but all Americans would not be discriminated against for being in a civil union.

That leaves, of course, one thing left to do: Define civil unions so that we have continued equality.  I suggest wording such as “two people” and “immediately upon (…) or after seven years (…)”  

ericf December 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm

What you’re suggesting doesn’t sound that radical. It sounds like basic separation of church and state. Civil unions would be what the government recognizes, and marriage becomes a religious ceremony every religious group can recognize in its own way. If it was framed correctly, that even sounds politically possible.

Holly Cairns December 23, 2009 at 2:27 am

anytime I bring up civil unions there’s super grumble.  It didn’t even occur to me that people in civil unions could be discriminated against because who would set up civil unions so there is a “lesser” situation?  Seems that NJ did that… ah ha.  How dumb is that.

But if you get past the civil union idea as a “lesser”, and realize this issue is deeper than who someone marries… it all makes sense to separate church and state and end painful discrimination now.

And thanks for saying it sounds politically possible.  Finally someone who thinks it’s possible!

Mark My Words December 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I’ve been a history junkie for…probably about 20 years now. I’ll never profess myself to be a scholar, because the subject is more of a hobby to me than it is a scholastic endeavour.

At the risk of sounding like a pathetic patsy trying to identify with the Founding Fathers of our country, as our ultra-conservative friends and relatives try to do, there is something to be said on the subject of marriage “back in the day”.  

About a month ago, I finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography “Benjamin Franklin, An American Life“. And while you make an interesting point on the subject of a separated church and state, there was a day when the church had very little say on the state of marriage.

Benjamin Franklin arrived on the Philadelphia’s dock yards as a young man wearing the fashionable outer-wear of his Boston roots only to be confronted by a young Deborah from a second-story window who busted out openly and laughed at him.  

To her, Franklin looked like a bafoon, a ridiculous clown.

Within ten years, two very interesting things happened to both of these two young people:
1.) Franklin convinced Deborah to simply move in with him and live as a common-law couple.
2.) Franklin (weirdly) publicly declared a male baby named William has his first son, and clarified that the mother was NOT Deborah, his common-law wife.  

(William Franklin the illegitimate, would eventually become governor of New Jersey, support King George during the American Revolutionary War, and face prison and the scorn from his father, while his own children would become the fawning Apple of their grandfather’s eye and eventual sole heir of his own father.)

Later, as we all know quite well, Franklin became the oldest member in the Continental Congress, was the first “US Ambassador” to France to broker peace with Great Britain, installed lightning rods on houses, church steeples and castles everywhere throughout Europe and Russia, and failed to include Canada as major player in our United States of America.

Same-sex couples have debated this subject under the for decades in this country.  Contemporary society clings to “partnerships” between adults regardless of sex as a stereotype reserved for opposite-sex relationships (including cultural-race issues between black and white heterosexuals) as a bonified sexual relationhip, regardless of a religious connotation.

I hate to break to your sibling/parent: Historial presention of adult companionship does not include Sodom,Gomorrah, or “Opposite Marriage  

Holly Cairns December 23, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I’m still wrapping my brain around this comment.  You bring up Franklin as an example of common law marriage, yes.  You also bring up his illegitimate son, and later say:

I hate to break to your sibling/parent: Historial presention of adult companionship does not include Sodom,Gomorrah, or “Opposite Marriage

What, exactly, does that have to do with the idea of civil unions?  And are we discussing infidelity?  If so, and as always, infidelity is unacceptable or acceptable based on the agreement between two people (Whether it be in marriage, common law marriage, civil union, or other.)  

Mark My Words December 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm

I can’t save a “draft” for a comment, nor can I edit a comment that’s been posted.

Your question is obvious and I have no answer for you other than I wish I could return later and finish my thought.  Posting on this board is a Catch-22 in many ways;  One can become passionate on a topic; but once you’ve started — you either have to complete your thought or ditch the entire subject and walk away.  It drives me absolutely crazy.

I believe the point was better finished by stating that our contemporary ideology on the topic of marriage has become infested by organized religion.  Comparatively speaking to the days of lore, common law marriages, something easily applied to same-sex marriage, has become virtually obsolete.

Franklin, living today, would never have gotten away with his political muster representing the United States in Paris as a US Ambassador with the public knowlege of his common-law wife and an illegitimate on the lose.

While you and I probably wouldn’t care anything about Franklin’s common-law lifestyle, we both know that the tea-baggers, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and the Rick Warren’s out there would never allow such an impact take place as he had back in the day.  Our social constructs have become so mishapen under the guise of the alleged “holy sanctity of marriage” that the idea itself has become illegitimate.  The Right Wing Machine has viturally destroyed the idea of a separated church/state when it comes to marriage that we frequently don’t think twice about the more pedestrian forms of relationships in our society.

Case in point; my brother married his wife under the Justice of the Peace here in Minnesota twenty-odd years ago.  No church, no minister and no fuss.  I’ve lived with my common-law (same-sex) partner for well over ten years now and yet; Minnesota will not recognise my relationship and offer me the same tax breaks afforded to my brother.

Franklin’s marriage was a far closer mirror image to my marriage common-law relationship than my brother’s heterosexual marriage presiding by a tax-payer funded and state issued Justice of the Peace.

Can you smell the irony in that? It wreaks nothing short of bizarre!  One can almost struggle with stupidity in that construct, and we have the “Tea Bagger” and the Rick Warren’s to blame for it.

I hope that helps clarify my point, because you’re absolutely correct: I vanished with it dangling out there without an exclamation point.

Stay warm and have a great Holiday.

Mr Math December 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

How much worse will we all be with Republicans back in control? Will a swing back to Republican majorities lead them to believe they have a mandate to do whatever they want? With Republicans in control in Minnesota, we came close to having a Minnesota version of the Defense of Marriage Act. What horrible action will Republicans take against gays and lesbians next time around?

Making Civil Unions (or whatever is legally equivalent to “marriage”) legal is the right thing to do. Yes, it should happen ASAP, but it may take even more wins by Democrats in 2010 to give a mandate for movement. I wish politics could stay out of this and we could focus on doing what is right, but our country is too fractured now. Fixing our country means those who want improvement cannot rest. We have to keep fighting.

Holly Cairns December 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I predict this issue of “gay marriage” will be brought up at the last minute.  A “Hey, look at what dems are up to” (right before the election).  Of course it will be framed so people feel they are voting for evil and the end of society if they vote democrat.

The issue needs to be framed, now, so people understand it is about hurt and pain and discrimination.  I’ll say this again, the issue is much deeper than being about who someone marries.

Oh, and you said:  Making Civil Unions (or whatever is legally equivalent to “marriage”) legal is the right thing to do.  Yes, it should happen ASAP, but it may take even more wins by Democrats in 2010 to give a mandate for movement

I have some thoughts:  First, we should say marriage is equivalent to Civil Union, and approach it from that stance.  Second, you talk wins and Democrats.  I feel this issue will be settled in the courts… and not just any court.  

Holly Cairns December 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I have some thoughts:  First, we should say marriage is equivalent to Civil Union, and approach it from that stance.  Second, you talk wins and Democrats.  I feel this issue will be settled in the courts… and not just any court.  

Holly Cairns December 23, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Now I’m with you.  

Happy Holidays to you , too!  :-)  

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