Metro Weekly

Gut Check

Whatever the next judicial step for DOMA, Obama is already taking heat from the right

Initially, I was going to use this opportunity to recount my July 4 exercise in acquiescence – filling out my juror application for federal court. While I’ve been happy to report for D.C. Superior Court duty a number of times, no one can blame me for being a little sour about being drafted for duty to the federal government, which refuses to allow me to vote as a Washingtonian, then further humiliates me by asking on the juror application whether I’m single, married, widowed or divorced. So many federal shades of straight experience, but just the one possibility for me and my kind: single.

So Uncle Sam, I’m not happy with you at the moment. But I’ll be there to serve you, even if my citizenship is second-class.

Despite my rocky relationship with the U.S. District Court for D.C., however, the happenings at a different federal court are pulling me off topic. Last week U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, in Boston, ruled that portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – the federal government’s law for defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman and nothing but – unconstitutional.

That’s why I’m not so, so mad at Uncle Sam. I still believe his heart is in the right place. Where I break from a substantial portion of my community, however, is in believing Barack Obama’s heart also remains in the right place.

Granted, a fair question is, ”Who the hell cares where this president’s heart is if he can’t deliver?”

I do, but not for sentimental reasons. But having lived through seven presidencies, I have learned to trust my gut a little bit. Besides, Obama’s presidency marks the first time I’ve actually voted for the guy who won. Maybe that’s why I’m still supportive.

I’m sure he could do more. Who couldn’t? I don’t get the impression that Obama puts LGBT civil rights any higher than, say, relations with Japan; but I do think he holds them in roughly that realm. Another way to rank his consideration of LGBT equality – and, again, this is just my gut – is to figure that he holds this consideration higher than any of his predecessors, and probably higher than whoever will be the next GOP president, whether that’s two years away or decades.

The reinforcement I get that my gut is right is the fallout from Tauro’s ruling. The Obama administration is now in the position of appealing that decision. The administration could buck protocol and leave well enough alone. Mr. President, I’d appreciate that. My birthday was last month, and I didn’t see a card from you. Just sayin’….

When that likely appeal is filed, plenty of gay folks will point to it as evidence of Obama’s betrayal. I hope that our insults are at least as colorful and creative as what he’s already getting from the side whose disdain for us is never in doubt.

”President Obama has been actively promoting an agenda to undermine the nation’s marriage law,” wrote Matthew D. Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law and founder of the überhomophobic Liberty Counsel, in a July 9 release titled ”Obama Administration is Sabotaging [DOMA].”

The right-wing quotes anti-gay activist Brian Camenker on the Obama team’s defense in Tuoro’s courtroom: ”We were watching the farce…. They weren’t defending this at all. They were going through very weak motions of defending it, but they really weren’t.”

So whom are you left to believe? The gay activist who says Obama is throwing us under the bus, or the right-wing activist who says Obama is playing the system for the sake of his LGBT pals? The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. And with the possibility of a Republican House just months away, the middle is good enough for me.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.