Democrats lack moral courage to make case for LGBT rights

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Democratic LeadershipJust as we lacked a strong political voice in the vein of Harvey Milk during the battle to defeat Prop 8, we also lack a voice on the national level to make the moral case for advancing LGBT civil rights. New York Times columnist Frank Rich holds Democrats feet to the fire for not having the courage to drive that message home:

… The Democrats do have the votes to advance the gay civil rights legislation Obama has promised to sign. And they have a serious responsibility to do so. Let’s not forget that “don’t ask” and DOMA both happened on Bill Clinton’s watch and with his approval. Indeed, in the 2008 campaign, Obama’s promise to repeal DOMA outright was a position meant to outflank Hillary Clinton, who favored only a partial revision.

So what’s stopping the Democrats from rectifying that legacy now? As Wolfson said to me last week, they lack “a towering national figure to make the moral case” for full gay civil rights. There’s no one of that stature in Congress now that Ted Kennedy has been sidelined by illness, and the president shows no signs so far of following the example of L.B.J., who championed black civil rights even though he knew it would cost his own party the South. When Obama invoked same-sex marriage in an innocuous joke at the White House correspondents’ dinner two weeks ago — he and his political partner, David Axelrod, went to Iowa to “make it official” — it seemed all the odder that he hasn’t engaged the issue substantively.

As [Evan] Wolfson reminds us in his book “Why Marriage Matters,” Dr. King addressed such dawdling in 1963. “For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait,’ ” King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ ”

There is a possibility the White House will find its “voice” on many issues (hopefully DADT in particular) this June which is Pride month. California representative Howard Berman predicted in an interview last week that the White House would be making an announcement on a number of LGBT issues, though declined to give specifics.

Post by ILO on 05/24/09 at 11:30 am