Monday, June 15, 2009

Two different views on President Obama, DOMA, and gay rights

With the Obama/Holder DOJ heading to court to defend DOMA, there have been all kinds of responses. Gay rights advocates are outraged, and Obama supporters have been trying to make sense of it all. Two of my favorite female bloggers have different opinions.

First, Pandora at Delawareliberal:

My first reaction to this was pure outrage, and then I read this.

“Rather, here’s the promise he is keeping: He is keeping his promise that he will serve and act as President as if America is a nation of laws, which it is. He is keeping his promise to uphold the law…

I want to address the brief filed in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. That Act preceded Obama. He inherited that law. It was on the books when he came into office, and because it has been challenged, he and his DOJ have an obligation to defend the law if there is a legal basis to defend it.

That’s exactly what I want my President to do.


Then Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts, referenced the same quotation:

Over on the Daily Kos, where they only recently stopped defending the moral decency of John Edwards, there is an unnamed person who claims to be a federal government attorney defending our Barack Obama:

“Here's the promise you claim he is breaking: By defending DOMA in court, he is breaking his promise to fight for gay and lesbian rights. He is breaking a policy promise.

I think that is incorrect.

Rather, here's the promise he is keeping: He is keeping his promise that he will serve and act as President as if America is a nation of laws, which it is. He is keeping his promise to uphold the law.”

Ok, that sounds good, but I have a question....

Would Barack Obama have felt it necessary for his Justice Department to have defended the Fugitive Slave Act?


Of course, Americablog fully destroyed the argument that Presidents are somehow morally and/or constitutionally required to defend laws with which they disagree:

Yeah, you see, that's an outright lie. Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for Justice, Joe and I are both lawyers. We suspected this betrayal was coming, so we read up on the law. In fact, George W. Bush (ACLU et al., v. Norman Y. Mineta - "The U.S. Department of Justice has notified Congress that it will not defend a law prohibiting the display of marijuana policy reform ads in public transit systems."), Bill Clinton (Dickerson v. United States - "Because the Miranda decision is of constitutional dimension, Congress may not legislate a contrary rule unless this Court were to overrule Miranda.... Section 3501 cannot constitutionally authorize the admission of a statement that would be excluded under this Court's Miranda cases."), George HW Bush (Metro Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission), and Ronald Reagan (INS v./ Chadha - "Chadha then filed a petition for review of the deportation order in the Court of Appeals, and the INS joined him in arguing that § 244(c)(2) is unconstitutional.") all joined in lawsuits opposing federal laws that they didn't like, laws that they felt were unconstitutional. It is an outright lie to suggest that the DOJ had no choice.


So here's where I come down: sorry, Pandora, I respect your opinion, but I don't buy it.

Gays are the ultimate dispensable constituency: Democrats can mobilize them in election years because the thought of GOP control terrifies them. But since they really have no place else to go, nobody has to keep any of the promises made or implied.

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