Apr 1 2010

White House 1  Remember when you used to drive with your family on a long road trip that seemed to have no end? Sitting in the back seat of the station wagon you would constantly ask, "Are we there yet?" The refrain from the front seat was an unbelievable "Just be patient, we are almost there." Neither our hearts, souls or bladders believed our parents. That is, I believe, exactly the current state of relations between the Obama administration and LGBT rights.

How bad is the situation? Really bad. We are not anywhere near there yet. By any stretch of the imagination.

All we have to do is think back to June 17th, 2009. In the Oval office of the White House, the president sitting at his desk signed a Presidential Memorandum giving equal rights to Federal Employees. With great fanfare he signed it on CNN with Joe Solomese, (HRC) Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Congressman Barney Frank standing smiling behind him. The president also declared strongly that he would push for the repeal of the "Defense of Marriage Act." Quite a moving moment except there was one problem. The Presidential Memorandum did not give health insurance or pension benefits (among the most important!) to those employees. Yet with calm assurance we all were told that the "Domestic Partners and Benefits Acts" would be quickly passed to correct this situation. All would be well.

Well, folks, here we are nine months later and the Obama team and national organizations haven't birthed this harmless piece of legislation granting health and pension benefits to Federal Employees through Congress. This should have been a slam dunk to get passed. As far as DOMA, not one action has taken place by the administration to repeal it. If our national organizations can't pass such benefits for federal employees, what are they capable of getting passed? Nine months for this piece of legislation? Say what?

Fast forward to the HRC Dinner in Washington and the president eloquently and movingly promising to repeal DADT, ENDA and DOMA. He proclaimed he had heard and understood our impatience. In the State of the Union message, we shouted with glee when he mentioned that DADT would be repealed this year and that the time had long passed to end this apartheid-type law. It was a brilliant moment, relished by those who stood on the side of equality for all. Yet, the only actions so far are by Pentagon leaders asking for a study, the Marine Commandant asking for separate but equal quarters for gay and lesbian soldiers and the Department of Justice filing a powerfully anti-gay brief on behalf of DADT. The words in the brief would bring a smile to the smarmy Rev. Pat Robertson's face.

We were told by our Congressional representatives that ENDA would be passed by the first of March. Now we are told it might be April but they are not sure it will pass the Senate. Democratic leaders begged us to wait until after healthcare was successfully passed. Done and brilliantly done. Kudos to all. But now they are telling us - uh-oh - they used up all their 'chits and clout' with healthcare and now is not the time. ENDA is right up there with the federal employees legislation and should be the least controversial legislation of all. After all, it has been basically hanging around for over - hello - thirty years!

As for DADT, even the administration's cheerleader in chief Congressman Barney Frank is not so sure we will see progress this year on it. Now you know if Barney is losing faith, then things are getting bad. The military wants some sort of offensive study for a year (to study what???). There doesn't appear to be the votes to attach the repeal to the Defense Authorization Act. Now even some our friends are asking us to wait until just after the elections in November. Even if we lose seats in Congress, the new members won't be seated until January.

If I remember correctly the same promise on marriage equality was made to Garden State Equality in New Jersey by the Democrats in last year's elections. Yes, the Democarts lost and we got totally screwed by the them. Do they expect us to believe it will be much different in Washington? While we are hopeful, we are not stupid.

For the last year, over and over again in the blogsphere, we have written about how 2009 was our year. We understood never again would we have the kind of margin the Democrats had in Congress in the future, that it wasn't an election year and that the time to act was then. The Obama team, and yes HRC, told us to wait; that they had a grand plan and everything would take place in time.

Well the time is over for poetic words and empty promises. Our patience has run out. If HRC has a master plan and time schedule, we at this stage, have a right to know what it is and what the Obama team promised them last year. Simply put, enough of these political games and giving our friends permission to take detours, prolong the trip and deny us our freedom.

As our president memorably said a while ago, "Enough." Really and seriously - enough.