Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Aint Yer Daddy People

He's Not Your Daddy, or: Obama and the Personal Politics of Gay Marriage

via The Bilerico Project, by Yasmin Nair

As I've written countless times before, I think gay marriage is the wrong cause and should be dumped immediately. So I didn't think I'd care much about the recent Department of Justice move to dismiss the Smelt case against DOMA. But, to my surprise, I found myself enthralled by the legal arguments that have sprung up around it. I'll be writing on these at greater length, but for now I wanted to share some preliminary musings and observations about the initial gay and lesbian responses to the administration's case.

First, I was struck by the amount of petulance and, frankly, sheer hysteria that marked the outburst against Obama who has, it seems, gone from being the Great Hope to the Great Betrayer. Although I haven't done a scientific count, I'm willing to bet that "betrayal" has been the most used word in the gay blogosphere over the last few days. For the most part, I concur with Alex Blaze's analysis of the issue and especially when he writes that "The Smelt case was a bad idea from the beginning that the gay activist community opposed, but the plaintiffs and their lawyer went ahead with it anyway." I don't even support gay marriage, but I'm bemused by the extent to which people are defending a suit that they may not even agree with in the first place. It's a little bit like the old joke: the food here is terrible, and there's so little of it. In this case: The lawsuit here is terrible, yes, and how dare he dare he seek its dismissal!

In that light, for gay marriage activists to now insist that Obama ought not to have sought to dismiss the case is a bit like poking someone with a very sharp spear and then crying foul when they do what they can to retaliate. Let me just say this as a layperson: if you file a lawsuit, the other party is going to file to dismiss. That's kind of how it works.

Second, I'm intrigued at the level of personal bile and anger leveled at Obama and the paradoxically high level of expectation that people seem to have for him. The sense of betrayal around the Smelt case exposes the extent to which people seem to have over-invested in Obama's supposed munificence and good will towards the gay community. Yes, he's clearly brilliant. Yes, he may well be to the left of Bush, which is not saying very much. But come on people, he's not your daddy.

Read the rest.


  1. Her analogy is weak and the argument weaker. So... because he's not our "daddy," he has license for his administration to issue a brief comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and incest? I think Yasmin has sidestepped the most critical arguments against these briefs.

    And it's not just marriage that Obama has reneged on. It's also things like the HIV immigration ban which was theoretically lifted but has yet to actually in practice suspended. He made a number of campaign promises to LGBT people. It's totally within our purview to ask him to live up to those promises. This is kind of what activists do, you know?

  2. Speaking on the HIV immigration ban - it is in the middle of the rule making process. The Admin IS moving forward - but as with all bureaucracies - it is process process process.

    Also - From a friend on the Hill -

    "The reason why the Bush Administration did not go out with the proposed rule was due to the estimated costs of implementing the rule. They were extremely high. It was sent back to CDC for revision and resubmitted to OMB in April. I have not heard any reports that the new proposed rule has significantly high cost issues. To the best of my knowledge, regulations don’t have to be cost neutral. The issue of scoring is a congressional problem. We already overcame that hurdle. There will be costs associated with the proposed rule. As a community when we comment on the proposed rule, we should make arguments that the cost estimates are too high. Opponents of changing this policy will use the cost estimates as a reason not to remove HIV from the list. By the way, the costs arise from the estimate of how many people with HIV will be entering the US once the entry ban is lifted."


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