View From the Hill: The Dems
BY Kerry Eleveld
June 19 2009 12:00 AM ET
COMMENTARY: The news has been fast and furious and more than any one reporter or activist can track. So let's take a step back to last week when Cleve Jones announced an October March on Washington and mayhem ensued -- was it the right time, the right use of resources, was it warranted? Some thought we should focus energy on the states -- forget the federal government, what has it ever done for us? States are where the movement is.
As the debate spiraled into outright disagreement, Stampp Corbin, a prominent LGBT supporter of Barack Obama's candidacy, was calling for a new leader to emerge in the movement -- someone who could speak with one voice and to whom politicians could listen without question. Both appeals from Jones and Corbin, in my opinion, fall into the same category as the Olson-Boies lawsuit: expressions that something -- anything -- needed to be done to seize the opportunity that appears to be senselessly slipping through our fingers.
Enter DOMA -- the Defense of Marriage Act brief filed last Friday by the Justice Department, which advanced some pretty reprehensible logic in support of a law that, by its very existence, debases and mocks the relationships that fortify our lives. The brief prompted myriad questions from activists about whether the Justice Department was compelled to defend a law to which President Obama is opposed and, further, if anyone at the highest levels of the White House had weighed its political implications.
Truth is, you get 10 lawyers in a room and they will all present differing opinions bolstered by differing arguments as to the Justice Department's legal obligations and whether the language they used was beyond the pale.
In some ways, none of that struck me as particularly important. The brief, rightly or wrongly, became a unifying moment for the movement... a rallying cry that bubbled up from the depths of our longing. Bloggers went wild, five major LGBT organizations cosigned a letter decrying the brief, our two favorite California mayors took the administration to task, and former DNC chair Howard Dean called it "a big mistake."