Pressuring Obama To Ditch the Defense of Marriage Act Is AlterNet's Top Take Action Campaign This Week
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During the years leading up to his presidency, Barack Obama made no secret of his desire to grant gays and lesbians equal rights. In 2006, as a member of the Illinois state senate, he scored an 89 out of 100 on Human Rights Campaign’s bi-annual legislative scorecard. Last year, he promised things like “equality,” “dignity” and “respect” to marginalized GLBT communities. When the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a federal law that defines ‘marriage’ as occurring only between a man and a woman and keeps same-sex couples from enjoying the rights straight marriage affords – reached Congress in 1996, Obama was among the minority of lawmakers who opposed it.
It seemed the idealistic senator had all the makings of an effective advocate for gays and lesbians across America. But then he became commander in chief and things changed.
Since January, Obama’s once-rigid stance on GLBT rights has adopted a taffy-like flaccidity. Despite promising gays and lesbians in late June that “you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration” by 2012, Obama has let political pressures rout him on two fronts: He has refused to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the U.S. military’s most gangrenous appendage of institutionalized homophobia; and he has not staged a meaningful offensive against DOMA, the same law he so bravely opposed 13 years ago.
In what should have been a significant step forward, Obama last Monday issued a brief stating that his administration considered DOMA “discriminatory.”
Too bad the same brief moved to dismiss a case brought forth by a California couple hoping to overturn the law.
The reason for such contradictory hesitance was, once again, conveniently institutional. Obama’s administration must defend federal laws "as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute as a policy matter, as it does here," the brief, which was written by Assistant Attorney General Tony West, states.
So the bad news here is that the tentacles of impersonal protocol continue to snatch away the most basic of freedoms from Americans everywhere. Gay couples – regardless of citizenship – cannot enjoy the benefits straight couples take for granted.
The good news is that you can help. Making sure Obama understands the havoc that DOMA wreaks on gay and lesbian families means making your voice heard. Join the thousands who have already told the president how DOMA affects them personally. You can do it here.
Here are the rest of our Take Action campaigns this week.
II – Stop the Lies About Health Reform (SEIU)
The Right’s jihad against Obama’s health care overhaul is a toxic cocktail of piggybank fiction. Seeking to guard their enormous interests, health industry lobbyists provide funding for campaigns of misinformation and fear.
Among these is the claim (promoted, of course, by Sarah Palin) that Obama’s plan includes “death panels” to decide whether sick or elderly Americans will live or die. There is in fact no provision in the proposed reform to substantiate such a claim. It is a total and utter lie.
Here are a couple of facts, though: 80 percent of Americans want radical health reform. Seventy-two percent want a public option. It’s up to us to make sure no lies keep us from getting these.
III – Join a Worldwide Day of Climate Change (350.org)
A year ago James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA, determined that if our atmosphere’s carbon content exceeds 350 parts per million, our planet will not be “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” We’re already at 390 parts per million, and rising – that’s why the polar ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising.