During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that he supported the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and called for the repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).
Since becoming president, Obama and his administration has, for the most part, been curiously silent on the subject, saying little more than, “These things take time.” A recent legal brief from this administration’s Department of Justice has merely fueled the fire of those criticizing Obama’s inaction on LGBT issues, especially since the Senior Legal Counsel on the brief received a Distinguished Service Award from Alberto Gonzalez for his work on the constitutional challenges to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
Today Obama signed a presidential memo granting same-sex partners of federal employees some federal benefits. Unfortunately, this memo does not go so far as to grant health or retirement benefits.
Critics of Obama’s LGBTQ inaction are likening it to a token thrown at the LGBTQ community, saying,“Tokens are not enough.”
These critics are correct. Tokens are not enough. While there is no way of knowing for certain, it is very likely that Obama would not have signed the memo had it not been for the recent outcry against his DOJ or the constant pressure from LGBTQ groups and individuals.
However, we also have to recognize that this is a positive first step towards full Federal rights for LGBTQ people. There is still a long way to go and a hell of lot of work to do. It’s unfortunate that Obama needs to be pushed to keep his campaign promises. Yes, he has a lot on his plate trying to fix the extraordinary mess left behind by Bush and Friends. But a simple executive order placing a moratorium on DADT until a full repeal can be implemented would go a long way towards showing that he really is a staunch advocate of full equality.
Still, we must keep the pressure up. Equality is a matter of time – there is no turning back. Obama will see that as well.
Crossposted from SoCal Grassroots: Keeping the Left Coast Blue