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WaPo: Obama 'Too Cute by Half' on Gay Rights Issues

Greg Sargent at The Plum Line looks at this week's announcement from the White House that Obama won't be signing an LGBT non-discrimination executive order in the near future and accusations that it was "a political move to fend off criticism from right-wingers who will never support him anyway."

Writes Sargent: Barack_obama

But it does seem clear that the White House needs to figure out how it’s going to handle these issues — Obama and his advisers are coming across as too cute by half here.

There’s no denying that Obama and his advisers have a very good overall record on gay rights. But on this issue, and on gay marriage — two hugely important topics to the gay community — there’s too little clarity and too much of a whiff of excuse-making and political calculation.

Obama is trapped in a difficult dynamic that is in some ways the product of having done the right thing in other areas involving gay rights. Because of his real accomplishments in those areas, gay advocates are fully convinced he really believes in full equality for gay and lesbian Americans — and only grow angrier and more impatient when he hedges or equivocates on key issues. I can see why White House advisers would find this dynamic frustrating, but the simple truth is that it isn’t going away until he stops doing it.

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  1. As a British person living in Germany I am often baffled, by Americans.Now if he signs an executive order, if my memory is correct it can me rescinded by the next administration, therefore I think it would be wise that this is made an issue (executive order) if the votes are not there after the election.

    The same as DADT, If A Bachmann came in that would have been the first to have been struck down.

    Posted by: hassia | Apr 13, 2012 8:38:52 AM

  2. Obama will be Obama, and no matter how hard gay activists try to bully or shame him into submission, he will do things his way and on his schedule. On the bright side, he's done a helluva lot for the community, and the potential in a second term is worth waiting for. The alternative is just too dire to consider. People need to think about this seriously before throwing hissyfits now.

    Posted by: newday | Apr 13, 2012 8:44:21 AM

  3. Some of these "activists" couldn't win a national election if their lives depended on it.

    Based on what's happening to women...their lives do.

    We are targets. They will kill us for points. If Prop 8 has taught me anything, it's that the masses will screw us over.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Apr 13, 2012 9:15:58 AM

  4. Ugh. Can we leave this man alone with this items until after the election? Forgive me oh great gay community but there are also OTHER issues out there. Please, just vote for other person if your only political focus is gay rights issues. Your issues along with the progressive strides made by this President will all be set back another 4 years thanks to your petty squabbling. If in a year, fine, but forgive me for defining myself more for other democratic issues than just being a gay man. Sheesh. Whew, coffee time said bitter party of one.

    Posted by: opinionated | Apr 13, 2012 9:18:01 AM

  5. What happened to patience being a virtue? As close as this issue is to us, I think we can agree there are more pressing matters for the president at the moment, and if we want him to have the opportunity to come around, we'll need to allow him to do so in a calculated way.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Apr 13, 2012 9:18:48 AM

  6. The Dims have been painting themselves into this corner since the 1970's; Obama is just the one holding the brush as they run out of dry floor.

    I won't give once cent to the Dim party or their presidential nominee until (s)he and the party platform support my values.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Apr 13, 2012 9:20:01 AM

  7. Obama is going to have a tougher go this round. His base doesn't really support him anymore. He will pick up a lot of independent votes though. His record on foreign policy, gay rights and healthcare reform (which was very poorly managed, though the right thing to push through) are quite abysmal with the exception of nailing Bin Laden and ending DADT. And he ran - RAN - on making government more transparent. That just isn't happening. I am a far lefter. I am not sure if I will vote or not. I don't like voting for things that aren't in my interest or that don't reflect my values. But I do know that the numbers are going to drop off for him drastically and the economy won't be the only reason for that.

    So you can say he has more important things to do. That's fine. On election day, his base will find other things to do I'm afraid.

    And yes, the Dems really have no capability for long term planning.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 13, 2012 9:35:09 AM

  8. NDAA 4th amendment rights go bye bye.
    HR 347 your right to peacefully assemble and redress your government go bye bye.
    He signed on to this without a quarrel.. oh I'm sorry a little IOU note saying hes not really going to do it - BUT WHY SIGN IT?!
    Now you can be strip searched for any reason.
    Obama's LGBT "accomplishments" were forced upon him by threats of the courts finding government policy unconstitutional. It took multiple simultaneous lawsuits.
    When he did do it, he did it half assed and minimalist. LGBT spouses are treated like they don't exist which puts a terrible burden on LGBT families. They are still outcast from recognition. There is still equal opportunity recourse that LGBT members can take since it's not codified into the non discrimination. You can still be discriminated upon because you are gay. Just not dishonorably discharged solely because you are. It's a hugely missed opportunity.

    I for one am no longer going to settle for "the alternative is worse". Obama is NOT going to magically change into super pro gay Obama after the election. He will support a states right to hate as in the RMA. If your state does not support MARRIAGE - that does NOT include civil unions - then you are still SOL.

    This man does not deserve our money, our time or our vote. Our best bet is to focus on true progressives in the house and senate. You rights will still be non existent until at least 2016 or 2020. ENDA is not happening with this man.

    Europe and the rest of the civilized world pity us on how we are handling LGBT rights.

    Posted by: chris255 | Apr 13, 2012 9:37:56 AM

  9. And he needs better PR. He has to connect with people and run on the things he has accomplished. That message isn't out there. He doesn't seem like the same man that ran in 2008 - his speeches lost the fire and passion and TRUTH they used to have. He just seems like another politician at this point. Romney has better chances than everybody suspects because even his political enemies will vote for him without fail.

    Just saying.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 13, 2012 9:40:04 AM

  10. No one should be surprised at this point that Obama holds his strategy cards close to the vest. And executive orders aren't his style. Whether those are good or bad, smart or stupid things is in the eyes of the beholder. The best indication of where Obama is going with gay rights is how his DOJ is now dealing with DOMA. Hint: he's on our side. John Boehner and Mitt Romney are not.

    The problem is that tongue-tied spokespeople keep saying the President's policy is clear when, to anyone but the President, it isn't clear. Then it becomes a matter of how much clarity you require from a President on gay rights leading into an election with a Republican who will have no choice but to be anti-gay. And, on non-discrimination, how effective you think an executive order would be.

    It's surprising to me that gay rights groups close to the White House would be stunned by this--I wonder if they're truly stunned or if the political game playing is happening on both ends?

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 13, 2012 9:47:20 AM

  11. "Wahhhh! I'm not getting everything I want so I'm going to stamp my little feet, hold my breath, and throw a temper tantrum until I end up with NOTHING! That'll show 'em!"

    Then when Romney gets elected and appoints the first SCOTUS Justice with a direct line to Salt Lake City (You think he ISN'T going to put Mormons in as many positions as possible?) you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done and your ideological "purity."

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 13, 2012 9:51:39 AM

  12. Dudes,
    that's a pen in Obama's hand, not an effing Magic Wand.
    Have you all forgotten the criminal conspiracy that was the Bush Administration?
    Have you forgotten the criminal Inquisators, Bybee (now a judge) and Woo ( now lecturing in law, ha ha ha)?
    What exact progress did we make under Bush ?
    With Obama our rights will continue to push outward,opinion will come with us and make the pressure for change irrisestable.

    Is this Community seriously going to allow a Republican in by default ? And then Ruth Bader Ginsberg will retire and the Repugs. will have the absolute majority in SCOTUS for a generation.
    Is that what we want ?
    Time to get out of bed gay boys.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 13, 2012 9:52:47 AM

  13. Jesus Andy, get rid of that crap Captga, it's driving me, more insane.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 13, 2012 9:54:21 AM

  14. Would you Obama-bots stop defending him?! Get over it; your holy messiah is causing more ire than support, and by and large, it's YOUR fault because YOU let him get away with it!

    Posted by: Matt | Apr 13, 2012 10:05:11 AM

  15. I think it's a huge mistake. "If" elected, he will soon become a lame duck. If he doesn't win big, if he doesn't energize his base AND the middle, there will be no change in the congressional make up we've had for the last two years..also lame duck. Like Mitt Romney actually being a centrist, almost everyone believes Obama actually DOES support our issues, so all this waffling only makes him look weak and politically calculating.

    Since most believe (hope) he'll do all these grand things after the election, how about firing up the country and leading on these issues and show the American public, like Cuomo did in New York, how American it is to support equal rights in this country. This is going to be a close election. Instead of being timid and pray that things go his way, how about doing what he does best, engage and energize the electorate. We are NOT a losing issue anymore. Grow some balls and lead the country where you want them to go.

    There has been since 1965 a federal government executive order about contractors that several presidents have added to. Race, religion, gender..... This order has been expanded several times regardless what congress has done for the rest of the country, which is usually lag behind. Adding sexuality to it is a natural extension that is well within, well within, the Presidents job.

    The right is never going to love you. The rest will if you lead. THAT is your major talent and it has been missing totally, on almost every issue, in your first term. Change We Can Believe In, kind of, sort of, maaaybe......

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 13, 2012 10:07:57 AM

  16. @Opinionated:

    Your post is somewhat contradictory. On one hand, you say that you define your political views as broader than just gay issues.

    Which I agree with, as I am the same way.

    However, on the other hand, you imply that it's still not OK to vote for someone else, because that will set gay issues back.

    So what you're saying is, you should compromise in voting based on who is best suited to the totality of your political views. Except if it affects gay rights. Which is it?

    Posted by: Jack | Apr 13, 2012 10:30:27 AM

  17. Jack: I haven't forgotten the Bush admin. I think you mean John Yoo. See, part of the problem is that Obama chose not to prosecute Yoo.

    And he chose not to reveal the files that came out of Abu Ghraib. And Guantanamo is still open. He's really no better when it comes to foreign policy.

    Of course I don't want a Romney government. I don't really want an Obama one either. Hence the hesitation about voting. I am looking at the big picture. And gay rights hasn't really been his strong suit either.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 13, 2012 10:33:19 AM

  18. A politician being "calculating" to get elected? Say it ain't so!

    It isn't going to do us any favors if this election becomes a referendum on gays. The difference between an opinion poll and an election is that pollsters seek people out to ask their opinion, go TO them. It doesn't necessarily follow that those same people go to the voting booth to register those opinions in the only way that really counts, casting a ballot. Much of the support for gay marriage or gay rights initiatives is "soft support" that can be superseded by other concerns; a Republican or "independent" who favors gay rights may very well vote for an anti-gay rights candidate if they align on other issues: taxes, health care, jobs, etc.

    We do not have a history of success when it comes to gay rights referendums, at least so far. Things may be changing but we aren't there yet. It's absolutely true that civil rights for a minority should never be subject to a majority vote but that isn't our current reality.

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 13, 2012 10:38:56 AM

  19. Some of us in the LGBT community are acting like total f@gs. What would be the smarter route for us? Have him sign an executive order which gets overturned when he loses the election due to it or have him get reelected and come out in favor of gay marriage and Edna? Wake up people and stop crying us all some friggin river.

    Posted by: Michael | Apr 13, 2012 10:49:43 AM

  20. The smarter route is to come out swinging. He just had 4 years. The first two he also had the house. He could have come out swinging very left on all these issues and settled in the middle.

    Don't make the same mistake twice. If you do not have equality under the law, you do not have the rule of law. It is the cornerstone of law.

    Your argument is purely hypothetical. Why can't he sign the order, have his base support him, and create some lasting human rights legislation?

    Because it isn't his priority. He could have done this 4 years ago.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 13, 2012 11:13:16 AM

  21. Of course he is; he's a politician. He comes first. They're all at their core uber narcissistic and politics is just an avenue for their narcissism. What's so hard to understand?

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 13, 2012 11:18:47 AM

  22. @brim : yes, I stand corrected on the Yoo issue. That's the faux counsel I meant.
    And yes to the points you make about the rule of law.

    I guess Obama should have been a lot more decisive over the last four years.....but he did have the greatest economic catastrophe created by TinPot Bush to deal with......and he has saved the USA , and consequently the global economy, from total disintegration. He does deserve great credit, IMHO.
    I could not bear the thought of four years of a Romney.......the SCOTUS issue alone is enough to convince me......and some of us have a vital interest in repealing DOMA and transnational marriages.
    Absolute equality is a work in progress; it really kills me to hear my brother gays not supporting a great President.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 13, 2012 11:36:46 AM

  23. Obama is much smarter than the people pushing for this during an election year. He wants to win VA, NC, OH, FL, IN, MI, and PA, all states that do not even have enough political will and support to pass basic gay rights laws, let alone something as "radical" as this. The people pushing this are only concerned about their narrow agenda, not the wider good of reelecting Obama.

    Posted by: Malcolm | Apr 13, 2012 12:24:31 PM

  24. "Some of these "activists" couldn't win a national election if their lives depended on it."

    Thank you, dude. They advise radical things that would send Obama and the entire Democratic Party off a cliff, and engage in immature tantrums when they don't get their way. How childish and myopic.

    Posted by: Malcolm | Apr 13, 2012 12:26:26 PM

  25. "Since most believe (hope) he'll do all these grand things after the election, how about firing up the country and leading on these issues and show the American public, like Cuomo did in New York, how American it is to support equal rights in this country."

    Uh, because the nation is not like New York. Far from it. In fact, most states don't have enough support for gay rights to pass a simple non-discrimination law. Just this month, Anchorage voters decisively defeated a basic gay rights law. Obama obviously knows the nation well, and is not going to engage in high stakes culture warrior policy at this critical time. Smart man.

    Posted by: Malcolm | Apr 13, 2012 12:46:34 PM

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