Obama’s DADT debacle

From Gabriel Arana in the American Prospect:

Members of the administration have admitted that gay-rights issues have taken a back seat, and indeed, it seems reasonable enough to ask the gay community to be patient while Obama fixes the economy and health care. But here’s the thing with civil rights: Whether you think there are more pressing things to do depends on whether you take civil rights seriously. Civil rights aren’t perks that you deal with once you get all the practical stuff in order; they are the practical stuff — they allow all Americans to participate fully in tackling collective problems.

The Justice Department’s ardent defense of DOMA and “don’t ask, don’t tell” have only added insult to injury. The administration’s standard justification for defending discriminatory laws in court has been that it’s Congress’ job to repeal laws; the Justice Department is tasked with defending the laws on the books. But as John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay at AmericaBlog have pointed out, that’s not quite the case. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all declined to enforce federal laws that they found beyond the pale. While the Justice Department traditionally sticks up for Congress in court, it needn’t do so if it believes the statute in question is unconstitutional — and courts have explicitly found both DOMA and “don’t ask, don’t tell” to be just that. What’s more, the administration’s court briefings on behalf of the discriminatory laws have relied on the most antediluvian justifications for anti-gay discrimination, comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. This is the sort of argument you’d expect to hear from raging anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council, not from a president who was elected with strong support from the LGBT community.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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