Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama and gay rights

President Obama renewed his vow to end "don't ask, don't tell," but some activists are getting impatient.

Gay rights advocates rally in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11, 2009.

Best opinion: NY Times, New Majority, Wash. Post

President Obama's renewal of his promise to end "don't ask, don't tell," said Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times, got a roar of approval from the 3,000 people at a Human Rights Campaign black-tie fundraiser on the eve of Sunday's big gay-rights rally in Washington. "But outside the room, the president's words got a chillier reception," because some activists think the president isn't moving fast enough to lift the ban on gays in the military.

There's good reason for gay-rights activists to be impatient, said Jeb Golinkin in New Majority. Gay rights is yet another case where Obama "speaks big words" but offers little action to back them up. The "real fight for change" is in the courts, where constitutional lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies are challenging California's Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban. If Obama wants to do his part, he'll have to go beyond words and spend some of his "rapidly diminishing" political capital to end "don't ask, don't tell."

Sure, the pace of progress on gay rights is slow, said Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post, but don't pin the blame on President Obama. Obama has made it clear he would sign bills repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act. The huge crowd that rallied Sunday for faster action on gay rights served as a reminder that it's time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get Congress to step up and do its part.
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