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DOJ: “What’s Past Is Prologue.” Indeed.

by David Badash on June 12, 2009

in Bigotry Watch,Civil Rights,Discrimination,Legal Issues,News

Post image for DOJ: “What’s Past Is Prologue.” Indeed.

Attorney General Commemorates Stonewall Wednesday, Defends DOMA Thursday

On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder, once heralded by the gay community as someone who would work to achieve President Obama’s promise to repeal DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, on Wednesday stood in front of his Department of Justice’s LGBT employees and, as reported in an article just released by The Washington Blade, spoke to the Obama Administration’s promise of equality for all:

DOJ Pride, the gay affinity group for Justice Department employees, coordinated the celebration, which was dubbed, “What’s Past is Prologue: Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future.”

The employees greeted Holder with a standing ovation before he gave his speech.

Holder said the title of the event “reminds us that yesterday’s sacrifices pave the way for today’s opportunities.”

“Forty years ago this June, members of the gay community said ‘enough,’ he said. “What happened in Greenwich Village, New York, gave rise to a national movement dedicated to achieving equal justice for members of the [LGBT] community. Our presence here today is a testament to that movement and to the change it achieved.”

He noted that DOJ Pride was founded 15 years ago, yet challenges remain in achieving equality.

“Let’s be honest, too many of the same obstacles that existed then remain for us to overcome,” he said. “But neither the frustrations of the past, nor the challenges of the future should deter us from our goal — our responsibility — to continue our efforts to ensure the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans.”

That was Wednesday.

Thursday, Holder’s Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss a gay marriage case the U.S. Court of Appeals is hearing. In “Obama defends DOMA in federal court. Says banning gay marriage is good for the federal budget. Invokes incest and marrying children,” John Aravosis of AmericaBlog writes,

Obama didn’t just argue a technicality about the case, he argued that DOMA is reasonable. That DOMA is constitutional. That DOMA wasn’t motivated by any anti-gay animus. He argued why our Supreme Court victories in Roemer and Lawrence shouldn’t be interpreted to give us rights in any other area (which hurts us in countless other cases and battles). He argued that DOMA doesn’t discriminate against us because it also discriminates about straight unmarried couples (ignoring the fact that they can get married and we can’t).

He actually argued that the courts shouldn’t consider Loving v. Virginia, the miscegenation case in which the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to ban interracial marriages, when looking at gay civil rights cases. He told the court, in essence, that blacks deserve more civil rights than gays, that our civil rights are not on the same level.

And before Obama claims he didn’t have a choice, he had a choice. Bush, Reagan and Clinton all filed briefs in court opposing current federal law as being unconstitutional (we’ll be posting more about that later). Obama could have done the same. But instead he chose to defend DOMA, denigrate our civil rights, go back on his promises, and contradict his own statements that DOMA was “abhorrent.” Folks, Obama’s lawyers are even trying to diminish the impact of Roemer and Lawrence, our only two big Supreme Court victories. Obama is quite literally destroying our civil rights gains with this brief. He’s taking us down for his own benefit.

So, Attorney General Holder, in a celebration called, “What’s Past is Prologue: Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future,” on one day claims to fight for us, the next day takes away all our arguments. I don’t think we can afford to have him or Obama leading the charge.

Joe Mirabella, in “Obama defends DOMA, we defend our families,” writes,

Mr. President you flip-flopped.  We should have known.  You started your Presidency with one of the most anti-gay Pastors in the country giving your inaugural prayer, Rick Warren.  You further hurt us by remaining silent on proposition 8.  The one moment you mentioned our advances in Iowa and other states was in jest at the correspondence dinner. You asked the Supreme Court to ignore an appeal on Don’t Ask Don’t tell for “unit cohesion”.  You did all these things and yet your promises remained on Whitehouse.gov (FYI his promise to repeal DOMA is no longer there.)  Some of us still hoped, myself included, that you would do the right thing and not defend DOMA.

I no longer have hope for you President Obama.  I no longer believe you are on my side. Your adminstration is using the arguments of our worst enemies to uphold laws that destroy our families.  I should have known. I should not have been so enchanted by your beautiful speeches and colorful campaign posters. Mr. President you are no different than the rest.  You used our community to get to the White House and now you have pushed us aside. This time is different though, because we won’t take it anymore!

It’s time to recognize that Obama has used us. Obama – while we never expected him to complete his promises within his first one hundred days, or even wthin his first year – has not ignored them, but actually broken, stomped on, and thrown his broken promises at our feet. Attorney General Holder has taken one of our most sacred pieces of history and all but used it against us. What’s past IS prologue, Mr. Holder, Mr. Obama. You too should know that better than most Americans. We certainly do.

It’s time to march. It’s time to fight for our rights. It’s time to win.

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{ 3 comments }

Ralf W June 13, 2009 at 5:18 am

Well said. I do feel used. I feel sucker punched.

I can only hope this really galvanizes the LGBT community. But I fear the details of the filing will give substantial aid and comfort to Maggie Gallagher. Its vile stuff in that document. And the CA fight in 2010 or 2012 will be much harder now that she and her ilk can quote page after page of Obama staff work to kill our movement!

He can turn the corner, it's not entirely too late, but this man will have to do A LOT of work if he cares at all to rebuild trust and move on his promises. He has admitted mistakes in the past. The pattern looks pretty bad, I'm not expecting a reversal, but it could come.

I think one way Obama has blown it, shown a tin ear, is in part not understanding how Democrats have failed us many time in ways very much like he is now. This freights his DoJ's recent work (DOMA, DADT) with the ready signs of abandonment and abuse by those who supported him.

I'm kind of demoralized, but I'm really angry.

David June 13, 2009 at 3:45 pm

As always, David, extraordinary.

souldancer June 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Over the past three decades, I've held a variety of offices (leadership to dishwasher) in a wide variety of local to global orgs (most of them glbt related). I've come to know there's ALWAYS MORE to any story than what is 'published.'

Our tribe has many opportunities to get involved with a wide variety of political, social and related causes. Now – with what seems to appear as a complete betrayal – I wonder. What will our tribe's response be?

A) Not that big a deal! Some body (like David) will deal with this. I don't have time between my club, gym and tea-house dates.

B). I'm tired of being tired about all this crap. What's the use anyway! What can one person do!

C) I will redirect at least $100.00 from my budget to a worthy group I've at least researched a bit. Sure! I'll have a few less drinks out, or cut my already too damn expensive cable bill (that features pretty much the same-old-same-old) – but hey! It's a start.

D) It's time I share who I am with all I know to help them understand what they see happening affects ME!

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