Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama Tries to Deaden the Pain

President Obama has a new approach on the Defense of Marriage Act, having learned the hard way that the previous one was offensive and outrageous. Yesterday the White House released a statement from the president, on the same day that new papers were filed in the DOMA case in which the Justice Department filed the now infamous DOMA brief back in June. This time, the papers made clear that DOMA is "discriminatory" and that the administration wants it repealed, even though government lawyers claim they must uphold it, bound by the Constitution.

As I said on the show, it was a brilliant move of the White House to also release a statement from the president that he wants to repeal DOMA, even though he's saying nothing new and he is continuing to refuse to say when he'll do it, and it's clearly no time soon. The strategy threw the media off, with some outlets actually focusing on Obama's call for repeal rather than the fact that the administration is still defending DOMA in court.

Bottom line: It's good that the administration is at least thinking about how its defense of a heinous law will play out, and is trying to deaden our pain while slitting our wrists. But please don't take it as anything more than that. Obama is taking the easiest path -- some Christian righters even think he wants the court to undo it so he doesn't have to spend any capital -- and the one that is least brave. Our protests have gotten through and the administration is worried about what we -- and others -- may think about the president's promises and his commitment to civil rights. But the White House is not worried enough to actually move on the repeal of DOMA now.