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Obama & Gays: The Problem is the (Broken) Promises

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:41 pm - June 18, 2009.
Filed under: Gay America,Gay Politics,Obama and Gay Issues

As I worked on Pajamas piece on the President’s benefits package for the same-sex partners of federal employees, I kept coming across articles and blog posts indicating the disappointment and even betrayal gay Democrats feel at the President’s failure to follow through on the campaign promises he made to our community.  This morning, when I checked my e-mail, my in-box was inundated with missives from readers alerting me to other such posts and articles.

After my mid-day workout when I returned home to surf the web and blog, I found more such pieces, with straight blogger Glenn Reynolds alone linking three four just today.

While I certainly understand their frustration of gay Democrats, I almost feel like telling them, “I told you so.”  (I guess I just did that.)

Democratic politicians, with a few notable exceptions, have an uncanny habit of breaking the promises they make to gay people.  Aware of the affluence of our community and the dedication of our activists, Democrats know that by appealing to our interests, they can increase both their campaign contributions and their grassroots efforts.

Their enthusiasm for Democrats who say the right things, however, seems a little unmoored from reality.  Then-President Bill Clinton backed down on his promise to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military as soon as he saw there was a political cost.  He signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 when he thought he might help him with evangelical voters.  Obama sat in a church for twenty years where a racist pastor spewed anti-gay rhetoric and never once challenged him on his prejudiced attitude toward homosexuals.

Now, some may say, “Well, Dan, you support the GOP and Republicans are no better, perhaps even worse.”  And I’ll reply, “Yep, you’ve got a point, my party’s not perfect, but at least my guys don’t treat our community like a cash cow, milking it when they need funds and hiding it in the barn when they fear it might offend the neighbors.”  it’s not just that.  As a conservative, I don’t believe state action is the appropriate means to advance social acceptance of gay people.

To be sure, I do believe we need repeal the ban on gays in the military and enact some kind of recognition of same-sex partnerships*.  I wish Republicans would at least move forward on the former as a national security issue, since the ban unnecessarily reduces the pool of recruits from which the armed services can draw.  On the latter, I wish GOP leaders would do as outgoing Utah Governor John Huntsman has done and back civil unions.

All that said, at least they have not promised to act on those issues as candidates, only to balk at taking action once in office.  It’s an issue of integrity.

And on that score, I salute gay bloggers like John Aravosis and Andy Towle as well as activists like David Mixner for standing up to their party when its leaders fail to follow through on their promises. Lickspittles they are not.

In the great scheme of things, the President has done a lot of good with this benefits package.  The federal government finally recognizes the reality of same-sex relationships.  And that is an important and necessary step towards real social change.  I would even argue that Obama is moving at exactly the right pace. By taking small steps, he helps build consensus without exciting a reaction which could galvanize social conservatives (as have court decisions mandating state recognition of same-sex marriage).  It makes good political sense for the President not to move forward on repeal of DOMA.  In every state where voters have had the chance to vote on the definition of marriage, they have opted for the traditional definition,

Why then did the Democratic candidate not think of that during the campaign when he promised repeal?  (Was he spooked by the success of Prop 8 in one of his best states?)

With his campaign promises, then-candidate Barack Obama raised expectations among gays for his Administration.  In the comments section to this blog, many of our readers were most prescient, all but anticipating what has actually happened, that he wouldn’t follow through.  He’s actually been worse than I’d expected.  I assume he would certainly move forward on repealing DADT, given a recent poll showing that even conservatives favor repeal.

But, he has not.

Politicians can be fickle.  It is why we conservatives (and libertarians) prefer to trust to the private sector which can adapt more quickly to changes in society.  And if an institution doesn’t adapt, we don’t have to partake of its goods or services.  The free market allows us, indeed, encourages us, to go elsewhere.

We gay conservatives don’t expect much from our leaders on gay issues.  Basically we just want them to leave us alone so we can address on our concerns on our own, free of state intervention.

I suggest gay Democrats take a similar tack.  When you don’t expect too much of your politicians, you won’t be so easily disappointed.  More often than not, alas, politicians just don’t keep their promises, even those who bill themselves as a new bread of leader.


*It’s why I believe the President’s announcement yesterday was a step in the right direction.



  1. Liberals love victims – whether they are black, hispanic. single mothers or gays, liberals swarm them with promises and more promises and then they either break them or throw them crumbs. Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty has been the longest, most costly war this country has ever fought. And the results…. devasting to the black community. Why, because the War on Poverty treats everyone as victims. No one grew up more poor that my “Greatest Generation” dad. From an orphanage through the Depression era labor camps to California, my dad experienced hunger, cold and downright poverty. What did being poor to do my dad – Make him NEVER want to be poor. He died a very wealthy man from hard work and “No Victims Wanted”. Keep supporting the Democrats – you will get no where fast. As a constitutional conservative – I believe that gays are just as equal as anyone else and should be treated as such. As far as gay marriage – no – it would be determental to the health of our society, mainly children. They need a mother and a father to grow up successfully and not be a burden on society. Just my opinion. No hard feelings – I am not trying to degrade anyone or start a protest.

    Comment by cowgirl — June 18, 2009 @ 9:07 pm - June 18, 2009

  2. When I was in SF this afternoon, I picked up a copy of the _SF Bay Times_, which I haven’t done in ages. Teh Lefty Gheys are turning on Obama in a huge way. You read the lead articles and opinion columns, and it is pretty solid criticism of Obama. Just one example:

    There are better examples in the print edition, that I couldn’t quickly find online. All I can say is: Thank you, Lefty Gays, for acknowledging the reality that Obama is an empty, lazy liar – something that we on this blog had no trouble acknowledging over a year ago. Better late to the party than never.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 18, 2009 @ 10:16 pm - June 18, 2009

  3. Oh yeah, Ann Rostow’s column:

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 18, 2009 @ 10:18 pm - June 18, 2009

  4. From Rostows column……

    “Did any of you happen to see the president’s extended display of fly swatting the other day?
    Don’t you feel like the fly?” (read the whole thing)

    I’m a gay conservative, I wasn’t fooled.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — June 18, 2009 @ 11:02 pm - June 18, 2009

  5. (Was he spooked by the success of Prop 8 in one of his best states?)

    No way, he knew quite well that the Black and Hispanic communities aren’t in favor of gay marriage.
    They are probably the reason right now that he is backtracking on his promises to the gays.

    Sure, a small percentage of gays provide him and the democratic party with a lot of money. But it’s the Blacks and Hispanics who give him so many actual votes.

    A party made up of so many differing victim groups will end up very fractured. I’m just hoping that maybe, some of the gays will open their eyes and not blindly put all their faith in the Dems.

    As Dan says, the private sector is a better alternative.

    Comment by Leah — June 19, 2009 @ 12:58 am - June 19, 2009

  6. I simply do not understand why the default political position for Gay Americans isn’t pure libertarianism. Government out of the bedroom. Government out of the pocket book.

    Despite the combination of high levels of disposable incomes and low demand for governmental services (due to far greater likelihood of childlessness), you’d think Gay America would vote against lefty-liberalism, instead of swooning whenever some charismatic socialist appears on the scene.

    Gay America needs to stop acting like the rich but otherwise fading and unattractive sugar daddy that can only keep his twink Democrat-socialist boyfriend interested through increasingly larger and larger infusions of cash.

    Comment by Rhodium Heart — June 19, 2009 @ 3:10 am - June 19, 2009

  7. I simply do not understand why the default political position for Gay Americans isn’t pure libertarianism. Government out of the bedroom. Government out of the pocket book… instead of swooning whenever some charismatic socialist appears on the scene.

    You and me, RH. But I have a theory: Even rent boys need medical. And the renters are too cheap to pay it. They want the rest of society to (i.e., us). Hence the socialism.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 19, 2009 @ 3:32 am - June 19, 2009

  8. May Obama’s blatant disregard for the gay community have something to do with his attempt to better endear himself in the Muslim (anti-gay) world?

    Comment by Sharp_Right_Turn — June 19, 2009 @ 7:51 am - June 19, 2009

  9. My liberal friends STILL DON’T understand what Obama actually did or should I say didn’t do….


    Comment by JebnTex — June 19, 2009 @ 10:06 am - June 19, 2009

  10. Comrade Teleprompter’s trying to vote “Present,” on y’all’s agenda. Told ya so.

    Comment by V the K — June 19, 2009 @ 10:37 am - June 19, 2009

  11. I am not sure who is more wrong : Mr. Obama for making the promises or the people believing him.

    If I remember correctly, Mr. McCain’s long term Chief of Staff is an openly gay man. Are there any openly gay people in Mr. Obama’s circle of power? At least with the GOP, I know where I stand. With Democratic leaders, I am lied to, used as fund raising fodder and pandered to.

    Most of my gay friends are one issue voters, gay issues. See where that got them.

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — June 19, 2009 @ 10:52 am - June 19, 2009

  12. #10 – “Most of my gay friends are one issue voters, gay issues. See where that got them.”

    Ah, the classic maxim. You live by identity politics, you die by identity politics.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — June 19, 2009 @ 11:45 am - June 19, 2009

  13. He has demonstrated that hope is powerful — during elections, during administrations, anytime. With Democrats, there is the hope that the gay agenda will be enacted and broken promises and/or inaction are far, far preferable than no hope at all with the Republicans. For them, being a sugar daddy is far preferable to being persona non grata.

    It makes perfect sense. Liberal homosexuals support the candidates/party that at the very least pay(s) lip service to what they have defined as their issues. Seems pretty rational to me. I don’t recall too many on election night exclaiming “Now we KNOW we’re finally getting everything we want!” I suspect most took a wait-and-see approach.

    Comment by Ignatius — June 19, 2009 @ 11:54 am - June 19, 2009

  14. An interesting point–when you define yourself as “pro-life” and look at candidates that way, you end up choosing people who are more likely to actually do something about gay issues. Sarah Palin gave the state workers in
    Alaska same-sex partnership benefits. It may the case that she didn’t want to, but she did it.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — June 19, 2009 @ 11:59 am - June 19, 2009

  15. Look at the two big gay issues : DADT and DOMA

    If the Democratic candidate promises to repeal both while speaking to one group of people and then backtracks or modifies those promises while speaking to a different set of people, how is that more comforting?

    He clearly said during his campaign that same-gender marriage was a states’ issue. How was that different than Mr. McCain’s position?

    My liberal friends are giving him a pass on both issues because of competing issues, i.e. economy, health care, 2 wars, etc. Should Mr. Johnson have delayed the Civil Rights Act until after the Viet Nam war was over? Why are they so eager to take a backseat when they were promised to ride “shot gun”. Trying to get a liberal to say anything against Mr. Obama is like trying to get a teenager to tell you what happened to all the gas in the car.

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — June 19, 2009 @ 1:51 pm - June 19, 2009

  16. ILC, they aren’t late for the party-they aren’t even at the party. Just wait, let Ear Leader string them along and they will fall right back in line, giving him money and their vote.

    It doesn’t matter how many times they stick their hand on a hot stove burner. They will continue to do it again and again, knowing dam* well they are going to get burned.

    Comment by Racer — June 19, 2009 @ 3:40 pm - June 19, 2009

  17. A gay friend of mine, who I argued with vehemently over Obama vs. McCain (he called Palin the C-word, even bought me a roll of McCain toilet paper), told a mutual friend of ours that he had a message for me: “Tell Brian I’m beginning to think he was right about Obama.”

    Now, that’s what I call HOPE!

    Comment by Brian — June 19, 2009 @ 5:47 pm - June 19, 2009

  18. It doesn’t matter how many times they stick their hand on a hot stove burner. They will continue to do it again and again, knowing dam* well they are going to get burned.

    Seems more like staying with the guy who beats you, because hey, maybe he actually will stop this time.

    Comment by HeatherRadish — June 19, 2009 @ 9:30 pm - June 19, 2009

  19. What did he say when you pointed out that under Palin, Alaskan state workers get domestic partner benefits, unlike Obama?

    Comment by Ashpenaz — June 20, 2009 @ 12:06 am - June 20, 2009

  20. What I find more interesting than liberal homosexuals voting for liberal candidates is the specter of conservative homosexuals who, despite their own support of a large part of the liberal homosexual agenda, regard their own frustration (via liberals) with schadenfreude and smugness.

    Comment by Ignatius — June 20, 2009 @ 10:21 am - June 20, 2009

  21. Ignatius has a fantastic blind spot (or thinks everyone else does). If the “Now we know….” aspect wasn’t there, then there would not be the widespread outrage now. You don’t give the readers here enough credit for their intelligence.

    Comment by Nathan — June 20, 2009 @ 1:47 pm - June 20, 2009

  22. Nathan, it appears you’re not giving enough credit to the intelligence of liberals. And they’re not difficult to figure out. Liberal homosexuals vote for the party and candidates that give them the best hope for realizing their political goals. Hope != certainty; yes, many are disappointed but due to dashed hopes, not betrayed certainty. Do you honestly think that liberal homosexuals haven’t learned a thing from consistent disappointment in every successive election and the glacial progress of their agenda to the point that they regard promises with skepticism? Some take delight in pointing out their frustration, their false hopes, their wasted energies and cash, and their neuroses but where else are they going to turn? The Republicans? Now THAT is a fantastic blind spot.

    The question/issue as to why liberal homosexuals continue to support the Democratic Party in the face of continual disappointment continues to arise. The answer is obvious.

    Comment by Ignatius — June 20, 2009 @ 2:56 pm - June 20, 2009

  23. […] Obama & Gays: The Problem is the (Broken) Promises […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Does Obama Care About the Gays? — June 20, 2009 @ 8:14 pm - June 20, 2009

  24. […] all Barack Obama promises comes with an expiration date.  We in the gay community have seen how quick he is to break (though the obsequious Joe Solmonese might say “slow to fulfill”) his campaign promise […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » The Promise Breaker — June 29, 2009 @ 7:50 pm - June 29, 2009

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