Obama’s aides have signaled that efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act will take a back seat to other domestic priorities during the president’s first term, an indication that Obama wants to avoid the mistakes that Bill Clinton made when he attempted to allow gays to serve in the military during the first months of his presidency.
That’s interesting. It’s also historically inaccurate. I was in DC at the time, working on the issue. Bill Clinton didn’t do anything to attempt to lift the ban. It was the Republicans, and Sam Nunn, who made it in an issue during the first weeks – not months – of Clinton’s administration. But putting that aside, if it was “wrong” to address controversial gay issues so early on, then why is Obama addressing controversial health care issues so early on? Wasn’t that also a lesson from the Clinton years?
Not to mention, seriously, these guys are taking lessons from 1993? Why don’t they take their African-American civil rights lessons from 1953 why they’re at it? Leadership is not about searching for the best excuse to avoid following through on your promises. The way this administration willingly telegraphs fear is simply astonishing. And then there’s the assumption that they’re going to win again in four years, and we’ll still have a Democratic congress, so we can just wait for his major promises.
Finally, the lesson of Clinton’s experience with DADT is not to pursue repealing DOMA? Huh? And we’re to believe that they’re still going to pursue lifting the ban this term, even though the ban is the very issue freaking them out enough to punt on DOMA? I call BS. If DADT has made them terrified of DOMA, then it’s really made them doubly terrified of DADT itself.
PS And a quick note to the Washington Post. Obama didn’t extend any benefits to the gay partners of federal employees, though that’s certainly what his people keep claiming. As I uncovered at the time, the benefits were already available for over a decade, and even DOD employees under George Bush were receiving them. This is part of the larger problem with this administration – there’s a lot of civil rights smoke and mirrors going on.