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Cognitive dissonance: Why President Obama should stop defending DOMA

DADT trial DOMA trials Gill/Massachusetts Trial analysis

(Shannon Minter joined the Prop 8 Trial Tracker community for a special live-blogging session a few months ago, following Judge Walker’s historic decision on Prop 8. And now he’s back with this guest post, cross-posted from Karen Ocamb’s LGBTPOV. Note that this was written before the DOJ’s decision yesterday to appeal DADT. — Eden)

Shannon MinterCognitive Dissonance: Why President Obama Should Stop Defending DOMA

By Shannon Minter
Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

Both as a candidate and in office, President Obama has repeatedly said the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a discriminatory law that harms an entire group of Americans for no good reason. As recently as this week, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “As a policy matter, the President has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed.”

Given the President’s clear views, one would expect him to welcome a court decision striking down this invidious statute. Alas, however, the opposite seems to be true. On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the President appealed two landmark decisions, Gill v. OPM and Massachusetts v. HHS, in which a federal judge had declared DOMA’s discriminatory treatment of gay couples to be unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs in Gill are seven same-sex couples and three surviving same-sex spouses who were legally married in Massachusetts. They are seeking access to the same federal benefits given to other legally married couples and surviving spouses, including health care, retirement, social security, and burial rights. They are being denied those protections only because of DOMA, which creates a categorical rule that no same-sex spouses can receive any federal benefit given to heterosexual spouses.

In the second DOMA challenge, Massachusetts v. HHS, the State of Massachusetts itself is arguing that DOMA unconstitutionally prevents Massachusetts from treating its own citizens equally and infringes on the state’s rights to make its own marriage laws. Ordinarily, the federal government defers to state law to determine which marriages count as valid for purposes of getting federal benefits. For the fist time in our nation’s history, however, DOMA requires the federal government to disregard state law and deny federal protections to couples who are legally married in a state, solely because those couples are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

In June, federal district court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled favorably in both cases. He held that DOMA plainly discriminates against gay people, serves no legitimate purpose, and exceeds the federal government’s authority. Had President Obama exercised his discretion not to appeal, legally married same-sex couples in Massachusetts would no longer be excluded from the wide array of federal benefits given to other married people. And President Obama would no longer be defending a law that he knows—and has publicly stated—to be discriminatory and wrong.

The administration’s decision to appeal reveals a fatal cognitive dissonance at the heart of the President’s position.

The President no doubt sincerely believes that he is obliged to defend any federal law so long as a reasonable defense can be mounted. But in this case, the President himself has condemned the statue as discriminatory, and a federal court has now concluded that DOMA fails even the lowest level of constitutional review—that it serves no rational purposes and is motivated entirely by anti-gay prejudice. Sooner or later, the President must confront the moral and logical impossibility of defending a statute that he himself concedes is based entirely on animus against a vulnerable minority. There can be no “reasonable defense” of a law intended only to disadvantage and harm some families, while helping none.

The moral conflict engendered by this dilemma – how to defend an indefensible law – is something that other public officials have recently confronted as well. But rather than starting down the torturous path on which our President has now embarked, they have taken a different path.

Most recently, in Florida, a state court of appeals ruled that the state’s ban on lesbian, gay, or bisexual people adopting children serves no legitimate purpose. Governor Charlie Crist has declined to appeal the ruling. Agreeing with the court’s reasoning that such a ban is discriminatory and fails to advance any governmental interest, he has chosen to let the decision become law.

Before that, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown both refused to defend California’s proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that cruelly stripped away the freedom to marry from same-sex couples. When federal district court judge Vaughn Walker declared proposition 8 unconstitutional in August, both state officials declined to appeal. As a result, depending on whether the official proponents of Prop 8 are deemed to have standing to appeal, Judge Walker’s decision may well become final, and same-sex couples in California will regain the freedom to marry.

The Obama administration still has an opportunity to make a similarly principled choice with respect to the recent federal district court ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. US, which struck down Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s ban on gay and lesbian service members. Just yesterday, Judge Virginia Phillips issued an order enjoining the federal government from enforcing the ban. In the wake of that decision, a number of Senators have urged the administration not to appeal—as have an ever growing number of other Americans including both lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and allies.

These extraordinary events mark a turning point in the history of our nation. Never before has the blatant irrationality of ant-gay laws been so apparent not just to some, but virtually to all—in a groundswell that cuts across partisan lines and includes public officials of both parties who no longer have the stomach to defend these harmful measures. Today, the only voices raised in defense of these laws are on the most extreme fringe, and their blatant bias serves only to cement the growing mainstream public aversion to laws that single out the LGBT community for unequal treatment.

There is no honor in defending a blatantly unconstitutional law. There is no shame in letting a decision striking down such a law stand. There is no duty to defend a morally and legally bankrupt law. President Obama’s belief that he must defend DOMA is no doubt sincere, but it is mistaken. It is also dangerous.

In the last few weeks, we have lost a shocking number of LGBT youth who have taken their own lives because they believed death was the only way to escape a culture of rejection, hate, and violence. Our President should be doing all he can to send a message to LGBT youth that they are fully equal, valued, respected, and participating members of our society. Tragically, President Obama betrays that obligation every day that he continues to defend laws with no purpose other than to relegate the LGBT community to second-class citizenship and to legally declare that the people, families, and lives in this community are not as valued as others. Too much is at stake to continue to defend laws like DOMA. President Obama can and should embrace that recognition, and it is my sincere hope that he will.

96 Comments

  • 1. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:39 am

    I have finally come up with a rough draft of a P8TT amicus brief for the Prop8 case. Hey, if NOM can send their ridiculous stuff I figure I could do a lot better! But I need help with research, citations and proofreading of grammar and content. If anyone is interested, please email me at civilmarriagerightsnc @gmail.com. (This is an axillary account so I am not bothered by spam.) I will send you a copy and you can suggest alterations.
    Felyx & Kevyn
    And here is the PDF version of the Prop8TrialTracker Amicus Brief that you can look at without having to ask for it via email. Please, take a look and help us out — any help is welcome.
    – ♂K♥F♂ http://www.scribd.com/doc/39386775/Prop8trialtrac

  • 2. Michelle Evans  |  October 15, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Felyx, Thank you for sharing this wonderful document and for taking on the task of doing an amicus brief on behalf of our LGBT community. You have done a great job with this draft, and I look forward to seeing the final version.

  • 3. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:27 am

    An entire section was dedicated to you Michelle. Please add to it if you can. It would give credibility to that section if you could name the California Governmental Agency that is in the process of denying you benefits POST-FACTO of your already established marriage.

    As I said to Michelle, I will say to anyone… the T in LGBT is very important in the progress we are making. These laws are devastating to our Trans-people as well… and technically very few of them are even same-sex attracted.

    And to Chris and everyone else…

    Thank you for your praise, it certainly makes me feel like I should continue but don't stop there… documentation makes the difference! References, court cases and of course add to the text if you have something to say. We have only a few days left so throw something in even if you are not sure.

    One specific request… can someone get me the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) section that spells out how to discriminate against gays? I want to include it as an example of how we become an immutable class through prejudice and subjective classification.

    Thank you to everyone… I hope this becomes something special for all of us… including our entire society that needs to learn the ways of truth and peaceful coexistence.

    Felyx

  • 4. Michelle Evans  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Felyx,

    With regard to the UCMJ, I do not believe there is anything specific in that document that discriminates against LGBT people. The discrimination comes from 10 US Code, Section 654 (if memory serves), which is the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy itself. This is a civilian created law that governs the military in these matters, not a military law per se. Whether or not there is anything else within the UCMJ, I am pretty sure there is not, or else it would have been brought up as part of the two Federal DADT cases.

    You could get into areas for the military such as the fact that same gender couple are not allowed housing and rations allowances, as would be true for their opposite married couples in the service. But getting into that sort of discussion may confuse the issue since this is about Prop 8 versus DADT.

  • 5. Michelle Evans  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Felyx,

    Unfortunately, we still have nothing official in writing talking about our marriage, only the fact that the CA agency has separated our cases and will not consider us a married couple with regard to our benefits program, which decision was given to us verbally. This agency also is screwing around with us in regard to other matters, too, so it is a very confused issue on many, many levels, and I have no idea when anything will ever be properly resolved and they actually give us concrete paperwork.

  • 6. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:30 am

    There is a military code of conduct that was used for court marshaling gays previous to DADT. It had the famous 'Queen for a Day' clause in it. That is the section I am after. I used to have a paperback book of the entire code but it has since been destroyed. As far as I know, this section will remain even after DADT is repealed or struck down by the courts.

  • 7. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:34 am

    @Michelle,

    Please remind me again of the agency in question. Just saying that they are separating your cases due to the California Protection of Marriage Act is enough. I need the name of the agency though… just saying, 'a governmental California agency' is too vague.

    Felyx

  • 8. Kathleen  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Is this the Military Code you're looking for? http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/usc_sec_10_0000

  • 9. Michelle Evans  |  October 15, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Felyx,

    I sent a reply to your personal email concerning the agency.

    Michelle

  • 10. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you Girls! Kathleen and Michelle. I will try to incorporate these into brief. Very helpful.

    Felyx

    (You know, it actually takes me several hours of searching to find some of this stuff!!)

  • 11. Chris in Lathrop  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Bravo, Felyx! I'm having a hard time reading due to a headache, but what I've skimmed through so far is wonderful. Bless you for your hard work, and I hope it helps bring your family back together where you belong! 🙂

  • 12. Ray in MA  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Felyx, VERY VERY WELL DONE! I am impressed.

    Some minor considerations that I am not sure about, but maybe someone else can verify…

    "Prop8trialtracker.com Community" with a captial "C" in community may imply a formal organization. (?)

    given that, the brief should be signed by multiple members. (?)

    it may have to be submitted by "Members of the (P8TT.com) community" or " a sub group of members of…" (?)

    These may be all insigifcant things (?)

    Where's Kathleen?

  • 13. Felyx  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Kathleen is fairly busy but she has been helpful even with all the stuff going on in her life.

    I have sent a letter to Courage Campaign, Rick and Eden. If they will accept the brief and submit it through their legal department (or equivalent) I have asked if they would rewrite the legal stuff in the first several pages. I only wrote what you see as a template with what little information I have. As it stands, I really have no idea how to actually submit a brief. I just wanted to make an attempt at writing the actual content portion of the brief in hopes that if I provided the bulk of the brief others would contribute and take on the portions that I could not do. Everything takes effort but getting it started and writing the main text is (for me) the hardest part and the part at which I am usually best (so I think :P).

    Anyway, everyone who has wants to respond to 'teh h8ters' in a meaningful way, anyone who wants to tell their side of the story, now is an excellent opportunity. There is certainly room for more and I am very interested in adding any additional text or citations or bibliographic additions. Please don't be afraid to try!

    Even if this is not submitted as a brief, I am sure it can be repurposed as a post or the like so please don't consider this wasted effort, please make comments, suggestions and especially additions.

    Gratitude to everyone,
    Felyx

  • 14. Ray in MA  |  October 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Felyx, NONE of our efforts are wasted here. Yours is a valuable contribution.

  • 15. AndrewPDX  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:45 am

    scribing for later

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
    Andrew

  • 16. Kathleen  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:45 am

  • 17. Ann S.  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:15 am

  • 18. Slade  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Due to his appeals I have lost a lot of hope and support for President Obama whom I once sided with strongly for his words. But thats what it seems it is boiling down to, just words.

  • 19. Sagesse  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Subscribing.

  • 20. Alan E.  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:56 am

    subscribe me please

  • 21. JonT  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Same.

  • 22. Carpool Cookie  |  October 15, 2010 at 4:52 am

    I read one commentary that opined (such a formal yet accurate word) that the President was taking this stance because he didn't want to alienate black voters, many of whom are religiously conservative.

    But the fact of the matter is, would that group vote for a different candidate? I think not. It's the same with gays and lesbians and our friends who believe in equality….Do we have someone better to support? It's doubtful.

  • 23. cc  |  October 15, 2010 at 6:15 am

    It doesn't matter which Party we vote for now. The courts will ultimately decide these cases. Maybe for the better, but still the President has given up a valuable chance to prove himself and he has failed. Remember these court cases would have happened with or without him.

    The only measurable thing I can think of is that he pushed Congress and the Department of Defense to review DADT. However under his watch many more American soldiers were/ are still being kicked to the curb, while the review was taking place. Ultimately what stopped enforcement of DADT were the courts. And now he is pushing to reinstitute the enforcement of this law once again. So it seems I'll stand by the courts instead of a Party any day! While they are slow, they at least perform their duty!

  • 24. NetAmigo  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Actually, Obama did not push much of anything. Pelosi is the one who pushed for ending DADT. The review grew out of an attempt to try to please those dragging their feet supporting the change.

  • 25. Carpool Cookie  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:45 am

    But, we would certainly say the Democratic Party has been traditionally more inclussive as to minorities. If we had the GOP in charge, the matter about being fired from a job because you were openly gay wouldn't matter…because openly gay people would already be in prison.

  • 26. Rhie  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Yea. I am not quite as disappointed in Obama, since I have can see the practical reason for allowing the DOJ to appeal. Both DADT and DOMA are federal law. They can only be repealed through an act of Congress or the SCOTUS. Frankly, I will take my chances with the SCOTUS over Congress.

    I agree – who are we going to vote for besides Democrats? Sharron Angle? Voting for Teabaggers out of spite is cutting off the nose to spite the face, and that doesn't generally work out well for the face.

    We can pressure Democrats. There is still hope with them. A Teabagger will cry persecution if anyone even suggests their words might translate to bad actions.

  • 27. Chris in Lathrop  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:07 am

    IMHO, the fact that so many see it as only Democrats vs. Republicans is part of the problem. There are so many third parties out there, all hungry for their shot, while the Dem/Rep dichotomy is sucking us dry. How often do we all end up feeling like we're voting for the lesser of two evils?

  • 28. Carpool Cookie  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Basically, forever.

    Sorry.

    People, universally, want to do things the easiest way possible. It has been a 2-party system for so long, that to get people confortable with another option is not really viable.

  • 29. nightshayde  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:28 am

    The problem comes not necessarily when people vote for a different candidate (though that can obviously be bad in many cases). The problem comes when people get fed up with the candidates on both sides & then choose not to vote at all. I know a few people in California who don't like either candidate, so are just voting on the ballot propositions. One of these people is very pro-equality & I just want to shake her and point out that not voting for Brown gives Whitman just that much more chance of winning. She hates Brown, though — so I really don't think shaking her will work.

  • 30. Ronnie  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

    We'll just have to see how this runs its course….I think he should just say that's it…we're done…repeal it…but whatevs…it will be done eventually…..onto something else….

    I'm sharing this from towelroad.com & my post of Freedom Fighters for Equality….

    from towelroad,com article:

    "The son of Tcheckoslovaquian immigrants in Germany, Rudolf Brazda was 20 when Hitler rose to power. He had lived his homosexuality freely and openly until the law penalizing homosexuality, the notorious “Paragraph 175″, was toughened by the Nazi regime. On August 8, 1942, after having gone to prison twice, he was sent to the concentration camp of Buchenwald, where he was given the number 7952, and a pink triangle. Even though Buchenwald wasn’t an extermination camp, an estimated 56.000 prisoners (out of the 238.000 who were incarcerated) died in the camp, either because they were executed or from exhaustion or illness."

    (my wall post caption on FF4E) Rudolf Brazada is the last known "Pink Triangle" survivor of the Buchenwald Concentration Camps. After the war was over "I had found freedom. I started a new life. Of course, I was a homosexual & I wanted to find a new boyfriend & that's how I met Edouard." They were together until 2003 when Edouard passed on.

    He is a part of what this fight for Equality is all about…I am thankful that he has shared his story….I know there is a slim chance he is reading this…but I would like to say thank you Mr. Brazada for your bravery, your courage, your strength. You are a beautiful person & you had almost 60 or so years with the man you loved which is more then can be said for the majority of Heterosexual couples. You are proof that 2 men can in fact love each other "until death do us part". If that is not love then love does not exist but you, for me, have proven that it does….<3…Ronnie
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-1uFsOXWhQ&fe

  • 31. Ronnie  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:25 am

    & I forgot to subscribe…while in tears….<3…Ronnie

  • 32. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Thank you Ronnie.
    I would love to have included his story in my latest blog http://rikerbear.wordpress.com/

  • 33. Ray in MA  |  October 15, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Also a thank you from me, Ronnie.

    I am glad i got to view this historical document.

  • 34. DazedWheels  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:24 am

    This is kind of related, I hope. I did my best to transcribe exactly what he said, through the magic of DVR rewind/play/pause/repeat…

    Ali Velshi, on CNN today, October 15, 2010, at around 2:55 PM:

    "Time now for the XZY of it.

    On Tuesday, a Federal judge told the US military to stop enforcing its "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which bars gays from serving openly in the military.

    Now the Justice Department is pushing to keep the Judge's Order from going into effect, even though the Obama administration has come out against "Don't Ask Don't Tell". Plus the military is now telling troops not to alter their behavior in any way. Look, the administration still opposes the policy but wants it changed through an act of Congress. Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied, in this case, but it is justice delayed.

    It's time to end "Don't Ask Don't Tell" now. This unjust policy has gone on far too long in America. Countries around the world allow gay troops to serve openly, and just because a policy has been deemed constitutional in the past doesn't actually mean it's good policy, and it certainly doesn't mean it's right.

    Imagine if "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was in effect in your workplace. It would be illegal. What kind of environment would that be, and what kind of precedent would it set. Would any organization, and they can't legally, tell its employees to "Don't Ask Don't Tell" about ethnicity, about religion, about political leaning.

    Gay men and women have served, fought, and died for this country since it was founded. They have a right to serve, they have a right to fight, and at the very least, let's give them the right to be who they are.
    That's my XYZ, …"

    Well said, Ali!

  • 35. Ed  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:45 am

    OT, but….someone earlier mentioned Desmond Tutu, which got me thinking….I had taken a poly sci course here at IU (indiana), and the focus was on South Africa and Argentina (ironically, 2 nations that now boast marriage equality).

  • 36. Ed  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Damn….i wasn't finished….LOL

    But anyway, everytime i read blogs from people who are opposed to marriage equality (you know the type…..we tolerate their lifestyle, etc….), it sounds extremely close to….."well, what? we let them live here…..we let them go to work, we let them pay taxes….etc. It sure as hell sounds damn close to the apartheid that South Africa was under for so long, does it not?
    (Since there now appears to be 2 ed's posting here, let me clarify…..Ed in South Bend)

  • 37. Ed  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I guess what I'm getting at is…..we are either equal or we're not. Unlike so much in like, this is black and white, there is no grey area.
    Sorry for my rant

    Ed in SB

  • 38. Ed  |  October 15, 2010 at 5:58 am

    like=life.
    sorry

  • 39. Manilow  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Is it just that Obama wants to be the one to do it himself? And not the courts? Like a bad relationship – "Oh no, I broke up with YOU!"

  • 40. Straight Ally #3008  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:36 am

    DOMA requires the federal government to disregard state law….

    In virtually any other situation, the Religious Right and Republicans in general would be howling in protest. You'd think libertarians would be against this, too, but they seem strangely quiet – maybe muffled by tea bags.

    Today, the only voices raised in defense of these laws are on the most extreme fringe….

    I disagree strongly, Mr. Minter. We're not talking Fred Phelps, we're talking United States Senators, hugely popular media figures, and pastors of massive congregations.

    Our President should be doing all he can to send a message to LGBT youth that they are fully equal, valued, respected, and participating members of our society….

    And yet, he gives the Religious Right their single biggest piece of cover – "My views on same-sex marriage are the same as the President's." I think that hobbles a lot of his stated efforts to repeal DADT and, in particular, DOMA.

  • 41. Kevin S.  |  October 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    The Tea Baggers are not libertarians, at least not in the classical definition of the term. Has the Libertarian party been co-opted into some sort of retro-Republican party, where they only fiscal responsibility, not personal privacy? It's possible, I guess, but that's not libertarianism. Libertarians like myself still believe the government shouldn't be in our wallets or our bedrooms, and we oppose this bullshit. We just might not have a voice anymore.

  • 42. Michael Ejercito  |  October 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/clip.php?…

  • 43. Ronnie  |  October 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

    GO AWAY!!!!!!!…. X ( …….Ronnie

  • 44. Shrpblnd  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:48 am

    JMG is reporting that the DOJ Declines To Appeal Ruling Allowing Christianists To Proselytize In Parks

    Even though this decision by the DOJ is unrelated to DADT, Servicemembers United feels it is emblematic of the Obama administration's hypocrisy. Via press release:

    "In the very same week, the administration says that it absolutely must appeal a federal court's decision on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' while it orders the Justice Department not to appeal a federal court's ruling in favor of the conservative Alliance Defense Fund. This contradiction is simply incomprehensible and insulting," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the sole named veteran plaintiff in the case along with the Log Cabin Republicans. "Servicemembers United renews its call for the administration to withdraw its appeal of both the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' ruling and the injunction pursuant to that ruling."

  • 45. Ronnie  |  October 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Empowering spoken word piece from spoken word artist Kenneth Morrison titled "At 13: It Gets Better If We Work Together"…..<3…Ronnie:

    From the HuffPost: (via towelroad.com)….

    "This heart wrenching spoken word piece by Kevin Morrison, filmed in our home base in Washington D.C., lays bare what it feels like for a 13-year-old to be rejected by his family, ridiculed by his church, and called the fa**ot by his peers. To feel like he was dead on the inside. To believe that there was no other way out than to take a knife to his veins."
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjotYkIYMDE&fe

  • 46. Ronnie  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:02 am

    From GetEqual…."Omar Lopez at an Army recruiting office in Austin, TX. Trying to re-enlist after the court ruled that all Don't Ask, Don't Tell investigations and discharges must be discontinued."

    Here is the video….I will post an adjoining article from towelroad.com in a reply…..<3…Ronnie
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llUBY0VEn_A&fe

  • 47. Ronnie  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:04 am

    http://www.towleroad.com/2010/10/lopez.html

    The NYT reported that a service member discharged under the policy attempted to reenlist yesterday:

    With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

    But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

    “I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”

    <3…Ronnie

  • 48. allen  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Great video Ronnie. I hope more do what Omar did in that video. I thought I heard the Pentagon would be complying with the orders of the court. This video proves they have no intentions to do that.

    By the way, I find it hard to believe anybody in that recruitment center would be oblivious to the ruling.

  • 49. Bob  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:45 am

    great video Ronnie, and great challenge by the discharged service member, to any others like him out there, very good way to put pressure on the military, hope more people follow suite

    stand up and get equal, do what you can, great action

  • 50. NetAmigo  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I used to believe Obama meant what he said about laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Now, I believe he has no real conviction about them. Basically, he does not want to use up any political capital pushing such issues. He would be attacked viciously by the fringe groups if he helped push these laws into the dustbin of history. Why he is so concerned about that defies me. Those groups, like the religious right, hate him no matter what he does. If he fears offending many black supporters, I don't think it is a valid fear. They are just the opposite. They will probably support him no matter what. I think basically he has a sort of intellectual support for ending such discriminatory laws but really lacks a firm conviction that they are wrong. It is just amazing the opportunities that the courts are handing him to show real leadership on these issues. And he is squandering all of them.

  • 51. Richard A. Walter (s  |  October 15, 2010 at 8:54 am

    This is a case of WILLFUL cognitive dissonance. Our "fierce advocate" came courting our votes to get elected, and now that he is in office, he pays us nothing but lip service, while through his actions he panders to the extreme, pseudo-religious, pseudo-conservative, tea-party-loving, far right radical theocrats. It is time that we as a nation stood up and said, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" and threw all of them out of Washington unless they have actually shown some backbone and stood up against those who want to codify their own personal moral and religious codes into the nation's laws in violation of the US Constitution.

  • 52. JennyLovesMarlene  |  October 16, 2010 at 6:29 am

    @ Richard A. Walter: BRAVO! My thoughts exactly. I'm tired of passive attitudes. Being passive is getting us nowhere. I am angry. I know i'm not the only one. Something needs to happen to wake up Obama. He needs to see we are truly pissed. I want a SERIOUS march on Washington.

  • 53. Dr. Brent Zenobia  |  October 16, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic has some good insights on the battle inside the Obama White House on the way forward on DADT.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/

    The operative sentence is this one: "I do know that President Obama gets angry every time he's heckled by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" protesters." Oh man, we haven't even started with Obama yet. Can you imagine the fury that is going to erupt in the LGBT community if Obama's DOJ actually wins their appeals defending DOMA and/or DADT? It's going to make what's gone before look like playful teasing. The frustrations of the base – not just LGBT by any means – will turn the 2012 Democratic Convention into a public relations disaster for Obama's reelection campaign.

  • 54. fern  |  October 17, 2010 at 3:22 am

    @Jenny loves Martine,
    The basic people, you and I and the intellectuals, lawyers etcera, (bass voice I'd love the both of you being hetero… But I'm too old).
    Let me tell you the intellectuals are not all that wrong except that they think so much they're overtaken by reality, just like the law is made after the fact, an assistant teacher at the "Université Libre de Bruxelles" told me once over an argument that I was right except that my argumentation was too simple and therefore not acceptable, I also heard the chair of the same université quote Simone de Beauvoir as if it was his own.
    And yes Walter made me happy today.
    love you all.

  • 55. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 4:39 am

    A SERIOUS MARCH ON WASHINGTON, would be a great way to demonstrate our frustration, Striaght Grandmother would love to see that too.

    And not so much for Obama, but to send a message to the repubs. that there is an angry mob in America, so maybe they could co-operate , the religious right needs to be held accountable in ending discrimination, all those who are getting their messages from god , need to be called to question, what really is the will of god in this situation, a demonstration or march would put them on alert, and bring attention to the issue.

  • 56. fern  |  October 17, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I like you more and more Walter "shenanigans"!
    While I was happy to find out I'm still fluent in these three languages, it is also important to know that the Germans were the first customers to concentration camps.
    I know about Dachau and also know in and out of use, I got a job at the Bolkow-Messerschmitt works as a clerk and it was just one stop ahead with the subway from Dachau and by the looks of it, it was a concentration camp "in use", I left and went to visit the one "not in use" I got depressed and three weeks later I was a bartender at the Bad Aibling Station, an NSA spy nest.
    Go for them, get them, no mercy, no quarters.

  • 57. elliom  |  October 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    He can do that (pay lip service) because he knows the LGBT community doesn't have any other viable options.
    What are we going to do, vote Republican? That'll help.

    The next best option we have (Greens?) isn't viable nationally, and so is no option.

    *sigh*

    We sooooooooo need a moderate centrist party…socially liberal (keep out of ppl's private lives)…fiscally conservative (spend money WISELY).

  • 58. Kathleen  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

    UPDATE in DADT case (LCR v USA). LCR filed its opposition to the feds' application for an emergency stay: http://www.scribd.com/doc/39438778

  • 59. Alan E.  |  October 15, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Basically what I said yesterday, but more verbose.

  • 60. JonT  |  October 15, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I loved it. 'Crocodile tears' indeed 🙂

  • 61. Bob  |  October 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Okay, for everyone that ever thought the court is the way to go, we're there, and they are in the position to read this well written opposition, and make a decision.

    Obama has placed the ball in the courts hands,

    check

  • 62. Ray in MA  |  October 15, 2010 at 11:15 am

    OK, everyone who is blaming Obama for not ending DADT, watch and listen carefully to a former Solicitor General's explanation…

    Keywords:

    "District Court" "Legal Precedence"

    (lawyer talk that makes the world go 'round and is hard to understand withou Kathleen's guidance)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH14V5opk40&fe

  • 63. Sagesse  |  October 15, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Kathleen, you were looking for Rachel Maddow's source for the DOJ appealing Judge Phillips ruling, but agreeing that DADT is unconstitutional. You'll find it in this video. Not sure Dellinger is correct though. What he seems to be describing is an 'advisory opinion', which US courts to not give?

  • 64. Bob  |  October 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    yes, that's the show, looking forward to hear Kathleen's take on Dellingers explanation?

  • 65. Bob  |  October 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    @Kathleen, I just read your post from this morning, and what you said there coincides with my gut feelings.

    The appeal will be in the mildest form to be acceptable to the court, so they are able to deal with it.

    And yes Obama is not cozy with the brass, but to make this thing really go away they need to be behind it. We all want Obama to tell them to move on it now, but there are some behind the scenes strings that are being pulled.

    When Obama said that DADT will end on my watch, he's sending a signal, or that statement will prove him a liar. I think he wants it to end in a way that everyone buys into it and can't throw it back later ,

    I

  • 66. Bob  |  October 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    oh and I'd say it helps Obama in this manuvering to have us so obviiously pissed at him. He's walking a thin edge here, during elections, we're left feeling like we have no one on our side, and during this time, I reallly can't see Obama as a liar, his momma didn't raise him that way,

  • 67. Rhie  |  October 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    From purely practical, strategic standpoint:

    He is being smart. The base is expendable for the moment. We aren't going to vote for the Republican. The danger is that we will stay home, but the party in power loses in a mid-term anyway, so that will be blunted.

    I don't think he is a liar either. He said this would end on his watch, not end the second he became president.

  • 68. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 4:19 am

    When does Obama's watch end????

  • 69. Alex  |  October 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Some people on here have said Jelly Belly doesn’t get involved with political affairs. Is that so? I wouldn’t be so sure about that. They donated a good amount of money to Steve Cooley.

  • 70. Matthew  |  October 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Must strain his face muscles to talk out of both sides of his mouth so often.

    'kicking gays out of the military hurts the military'. The court agrees with us….But we're gonna fight to keep doing it anyways. '

  • 71. fern  |  October 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Ci vis pacem para bellum!
    Stonewall 1969 wasn't that a violent reaction?
    I remember about 40 years ago reading a book by James Baldwin, I mainly remember the title which is self explanatory "Fire next time", shall I mention Clausewitz?
    I'm not saying here I condone physical violence but in my life I found out that sometimes one can't escape it and if you're not prepared you'll pay the price.
    Btw changing terminology won't change a thing where is the progress in calling a carpet cleaner a floor engineer?

  • 72. Carpool Cookie  |  October 16, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Well, for whatever reason, I'm feeling a bit better about DADT going to a higher court….in a way. I guess the benefit of not having it go into effect by default is that a higher ruling could be less open to challenge, later on…and we will have other presidents in office who'd want to undo anything Mr. Obama had done in this area. It doesn't make emotional sense, but maybe there's some benefit to pushing it closer to the U.S. Supreme Court…revolting as it is to defend the indefensable.

    Oy.

    My heart isn't in it at all, but maybe something better will come of it.

  • 73. Sagesse  |  October 17, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I've been mulling this over for a couple of days. All the LGBT advocacy groups are saying the same thing "Mr President, don't appeal DADT (and DOMA, for that matter)." So they must all be right, right?

    In this post, Shannon makes the comparison to the Florida adoption ban, and to Perry, both cases where the state accepted (decided not to appeal) the rulings. Both those cases involved state officials accepting court rulings about state laws. The adoption ban in Florida is gone, and the subject is closed. In California, the governor and the AG will not appeal; someone else may be able to, but as far as the state of California is concerned, Prop 8 is done. I'm sure the governor and the AG would be happy to see the decision applied more widely, to all of the 9th circuit, or to the whole country, but that is not their job.

    The situation with DOMA and DADT is different, because they are federal laws, and because they involve rights under the US constitution.

    Take DOMA first. If the DOJ does not appeal the Commonwealth case, it will apply to Massachusetts only, and not to other states that have marriage equality. If the DOJ does not appeal the Gill case, the decision applies only to the plaintiff individuals and couples (?). Then what? If DOMA (in these cases section 3) is unconstitutional in limited circumstances, surely it is unconstitutional for everyone else, or at least everyone else who is similarly situated. Someone, the Obama administration, Congress or the courts, has a responsibility to finish the job for the rest of the country.

    Then there's DADT. There are two cases, Witt and LCR.

    Witt is a wonderful symbolic victory, and completely unworkable. You can't have every servicemember who is fighting discharge under DADT go to court individually to have the government show what damage their continued service may or may not cause. We do not know whether Witt will be appealed (again). Even if it is upheld at the 9th Circuit, it will still only apply to the states in the 9th Circuit. With the military spread all over the US and the world, if this really is a matter of constitutional rights, it is untenable to have some servicemembers protected, and some not. Hence the reasoning behind Judge Phillips worldwide injunction in LCR.

    The DOJ were remarkably inarticulate in their stay motion in LCR, but there is one real unresolved legal question in LCR, and it's Witt. Judge Phillips had no choice, at the district court level, but to apply Witt, which is binding precedent in the 9th circuit. The 9th circuit may well disagree with some aspects of how it was applied in LCR. If LCR is not appealed, and DADT is ended abruptly, there is no mechanism to ensure that the military doesn't (unintentionally, or by sheer force of obstructionist will) screw up the implementation.

    By the way, It is not the fault of the courts that these decisions are imperfect solutions. They can only adjudicate the case that's put before them.

    I'm reminded of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Every time she had a major life choice to make, she said "I'll worry about that Tomorrow." SLDN, Servicemembers United, Lamda Legal, HCR, the Coruage Campaign and… and… and… are asking the Obama administration for the quick symbolic victory: don't appeal, and work out the loose ends Tomorrow. The problem is, no one has responsibility to take up the loose ends. The Obama administration has said it wants both DOMA and DADT repealed by Congress, and I believe that is the 'right' way to close the books on these laws. In the meantime, the various court cases (existing or new) need to take their course, in case Congress doesn't act, or to put pressure on them to act. The logical next step is to appeal the DOMA and DADT decisions, and reinforce on appeal that these laws are unconstitutional.

  • 74. Renwl  |  October 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for your articulate and correct assessment of the situation. I'm depressed at how uninformed the LGBT community is in terms of the DOJ actions and the Presidential approach to the repeal and removal of DOMA and DADT.

    The LGBT community is so not present to what's happening and have so little understanding the mechanisms involved—-like the fact that both appeals by the DOJ are actually good things—-that I'm beginning to lose my faith in our community.

    I've seen mass ignorance in my life but not to do the degree that currently runs amouk and out of control in the LGBT community. I just know what to say. It's really tragic.

    Any thanks again.

  • 75. fern  |  October 17, 2010 at 3:32 am

    @Bob63.
    "but there are some behind the scenes strings that are being pulled."
    Plenty and too much of it.

  • 76. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 3:34 am

    @Sagesse, I like it, very well thought out and reasoned argument, great job ,

    p.s. this is a very critical time re the vote, I hope your ability to frame the argument, helps those who use logic and reason in their decision.

    cause bottom line is ya gotta vote, I like Obama's reference to the car and voting, on t.v. this morning.

    when you get in the booth remember it's like a car, if you want to move forward put it in D, if you want to go backward shift to R. Dem forward or Rep reverse.

    at some point everyone is going to have to make the choice.

  • 77. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 4:07 am

    @Fern, I agree to much string being pulled, but the string is attached like a parachute, if the cord is wrapped properly, is very dependant on how it functions when depoloyed, when the rip cord is pulled,

    So string is a very stong symbol here, no matter how much there are strings being pulled. What you and Richard are saying is take some action to stop the string pulling and make it happen. I did jump from a plane a few times, and the one thing we learned was your whole life was in the hands of the person who folded your shoot. In this case I am allowing some time for Obama to wrap the cord and fold the chute, so it deploys properly. That job cannot be overlooked or rushed., it means life or death.

    Having said all that, I really love your satement about being right but the argument being too simple, your post at 54 above, intelletuals are right but they think too much, and are only left with reality.

    That describes my position in Favour of Obama as much as it favours those arguments against him. My position was arrived at by gut feelings, other people perhaps more intellectual, like Sagesse are able to use reason to justify the conclusion they arrive at,

    I'm not against action,, but when to act is as important as the action itself. and also it's important to point out that Richard's statement above was dependant on the nation acting together as a cohesive unit, But the nation seems divided on the issue right now.

  • 78. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 4:53 am

    forgive me I just seem to have the need to chat since no one else is,

    Re intellectiuals think too much, and are only left with reality, I wanted to say, the whole situation is similar to the civil righs movement, and what the blacks where up against in their marches, remember the dogs and fire hoses, and what they were up against, I heard a description by someone who said, there was no way to reason their way through what they were up against, any reason would just show the reality of the power being agianst them. What it took at that moment was blind faith, and they got on their knees and prayed, but it was not any prayer anyone had ever heard before, it was a moan, a human cry that came from the crowds, and it was that cry from deep inside, a moan, that gave them the energy to get up against all odds and move forward. they weren't using reason at that time, what they faced was beyond reason.

    So that is what I remember when I think about or rather can't think about all the forces that might work against us, something has to carry us forward, and that thing is a human desire for justice and equality, which eventually must be reckognzed by us individually and then shared together , this is the weapon that the wall of opposition must be conftonted with. see, feell, and hear.

  • 79. Carpool Cookie  |  October 17, 2010 at 5:27 am

    Just wanted to point out, Re:

    "the whole situation is similar to the civil righs movement, and what the blacks where up against in their marches, remember the dogs and fire hoses, and what they were up against…"

    A really touching thing to me is that the "black civil rights movement" wasn't just faught by blacks. There were lots of college kids (mainly Jewish, from New York, I believe) who traveled south and supplied ground support and organization skills. Their cars were blown up alongside everyone else's.

  • 80. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 7:17 am

    right CC they're called Allies, and we have them to, and they will stand up on the side of justice with us.

  • 81. Carpool Cookie  |  October 17, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I think that the crossover allies really illustrate the root of these issues; it's not black v. white, gay v. straight…it's Right v. Wrong.

    They are loved.

  • 82. Bob  |  October 17, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I prefer equality vs discrimination right vs wrong is too similar to black vs white but yes that's the basics of it, the battle for us to achieve full equality, also brings it to everyone else, and especially to those who would withold it from us. What they will come to realize that by holding one small minority down, also costs them their freedom, cause it's all spent on keeping us down.

  • 83. fern  |  October 17, 2010 at 5:37 am

    @Bob74
    Thanks for at least reading, I started hang gliding in Telluride Co but my instructor got his leg and hip broken going through someone's rooftop, so I never flew but they went on for the guiness highest flight record above 10,000 feet, Telluride being 9,500 feet. The reason I travelled is that my Idols were the Baader Meinhof gruppe, Ulrike Meinhof had been member of the "Rote hilfe" in Belgium "Secour rouge" (I was a Maoïst once) traveling I had time to think about your
    "But the nation seems divided on the issue right now." and agree with you without support you're lost, what's funny for me was that I found safe harbor in a U.S. spy nest as a bartender (google Bad Aibling Station) and they made an "American" out of me and now I'm stuck with dual personality.
    The smile on my face was wiped on November 8 and the vote on prop8 and reading the comments on the SJ Mercury did not help. What I also know is that they're good and great people in America, if I talked to "white trash", bikers red necks, hilly Billies you can too, if they accepted me they can accept you too, if I could talk to them you should be able to talk to them too why not flunkies from the military they can talk the talk.
    Love you all.

  • 84. Jim  |  October 18, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Does anyone remember the filing date deadlines for all parties involved in the Prop 8 appeal. Trying to remember back, I thought all submissions had to be in by certain dates in October. Does anyone have the exact dates?

  • 85. Alan E.  |  October 18, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Today is the due date for Plaintiffs. Next Monday is the due date for amicus briefs for Plaintiffs.

  • 86. Kathleen  |  October 18, 2010 at 7:51 am

    And Proponents' Reply brief is due Dec 1, with oral arguments to be scheduled during the week of Dec 6.

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