Top LGBT official in Obama admin responds to recent DOMA controversy

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John BerrySpeaking on authority from the White House, John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, spoke with the Advocate about the recent outrage over the Obama administration’s defense of DOMA, as well as other LGBT legislative priorities…

On recent controversy over the administration’s defense of DOMA:

This president took a solemn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and he does not get to decide and choose which laws he enforces. He has to enforce the laws that have been enacted appropriately and that he has inherited. It would be wrong for me or any of our community to advise him to lie or to shirk his responsibility. He’s doing his job. He has made clear that he stands for the repeal of DOMA. It will be part of this administration’s agenda to accomplish that act. We ought not waste energy and angst attacking him when we should be focusing the energy and effort on getting 218 votes in the house and 60 votes in the Senate, and that’s where we ought to target the energy and the strength of this community and this president is with us, this is our agenda and it’s his agenda.

Again no mention of the incest and underage marriage cases cited in the DOMA defense. Our anger is not out of angst, nor is it a waste of energy. Until the administration takes action on these issues, we should not be silent.

On hate crimes, ENDA, DADT and DOMA:

We have four broad legislative goals that we want to accomplish and legislation is one of these things where you’ve got to move when the opportunity strikes, so I’m going to list them in an order but it’s not necessarily going to go one, two, three, four. Obviously, I think the first opportunity is hate crimes and we’re hopeful that we can get that passed this week. We’re going to try, but if not, we’re going to keep at it until we get it passed. The second one ENDA, we want to secure that passage of ENDA, and third is we want to repeal legislatively “don’t ask don’t tell,” and fourth, we want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

When asked about DADT later in the interview, Berry walks back his opinion on the passage of hate crimes legislation…

We don’t have the votes to do Hate Crimes right now, we don’t have the votes to do ENDA, how are we going [to get “don’t ask, don’t tell]?

And all of this before the “sun sets on this administration.”

Well, there you have it. That’s likely the most official response we are going to get. And dammit, it’s not good enough, not good enough at all. But it’s what we’ve all come to expect now from the Obama administraiton. I’ve skipped the parts of the interview focusing on granting more rights to gay Federal employees. But I’m not a federal employee. Nor is the vast majority of LGBT Americans. Any legislation should target EVERYONE in the LGBT community, not just at the federal level.

Post by ILO on 06/14/09 at 11:31 pm