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Posts for June, 2009

More Reactions to Obama Administration’s Defense of DOMA

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2009

People are justifiably furious over the Obama administration’s DOJ brief filed with the Supreme Court defending DOMA. Here’s Pam Spaulding:

This is a President who said he is a “fierce advocate” for our rights. This doesn’t look much like an advocate, it looks more like an enemy pulling the pin on the grenade and tossing it at us. While this may not be the perfect test case for DOMA, the Obama administration, in its defense of the Act, has filed a brief that is a roadmap for every fundnut anti-gay argument against the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Andrew Sullivan:

There’s a completely decent reason to keep DOMA in place for the time being, especially in the federal courts right now – where bad precedents could wound us in the future. But to file an actual brief re-stating some of the worst and most denigrating arguments against gay civil equality is just bizarre. They could have argued for a narrow ruling or kept the “reasonable” arguments to a minimum. What they did – without any heads up to any of their gay supporters and allies – is unconscionable. Citing incest precedents? Calling gay couples free-loaders? Arguing that our civil rights are not impinged because we can marry someone of the opposite sex? Who on earth decided that that was a great idea?

…I’m baffled by this, I really am. The content of this brief is a massive political error from an administration that is making it impossible for its gay supporters to stay supportive. What’s next? A Clintonian political ad boasting of these arguments?

John Aravosis, when he’s not mad at others for not pushing the incest meme. Sorry, John. I love you and admire your work, but we disagree on that point. But not on this:

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case overturning Virginia’s ban on inter-racial marriages. The Obama people, working for the product of an inter-racial marriage, sure have an eye for irony.

Chris Geidner at Law Dork:

Even if one argues, as I often have, that a government lawyer — from the Department of Justice to state attorneys general — must defend even those laws with which one disagrees*, such a lawyer needn’t overstate his or her case. The government lawyer defending a statute with which she disagrees needn’t add gratuitous demeaning statements into the legal brief she files.

Unlike the Obama Administration’s brief filed in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell case turned away by the Supreme Court this week, last night’s filing in Smelt v. United States goes too far.  It’s offensive, it’s dismissive, it’s demeaning and — most importantly — it’s unnecessary.  Even if one accepts that DOJ should have filed a brief opposing this case (and the facts do suggest some legitimate questions about standing), the gratuitous language used throughout the filing goes much further than was necessary to make its case.

…Perhaps the simplest way to express my anger at this filing is to reprint what is easily the most disingenuous line of the brief, at p. 32:

DOMA does not discriminate against homosexuals in the provision of federal benefits.

Another lawyer, Dale Carpenter at the Volokh Conspiracy:

More bluntly put, the Obama DOJ is saying that DOMA doesn’t discriminate against gays and lesbians because they are free to marry people of the opposite sex. No “homosexual” is denied marriage so homosexuals qua homosexuals suffer no hardship. Gay man? Marry a woman, says the DOJ. Lesbian? There’s a nice boy across the street. It’s identical in form to the defense of Texas’s Homosexual Conduct law in Lawrence v. Texas: a law banning only gay sex doesn’t discriminate against gays because it equally forbids homosexuals and heterosexuals to have homosexual sex and because it equally allows homosexuals and heterosexuals to have heterosexual sex. This sort of formalism has incited howls of laughter over the years when made by religious conservatives. Now it’s the official constitutional position of the Obama administration.

…My point here is not to claim that the DOJ’s arguments are anti-gay, homophobic, or even wrong. Much of the brief seems right to me, or at least entirely defensible, as a matter of constitutional law. My point is only to note how much continuity there is in this instance, as in others, between the Bush and Obama administrations. In short, there’s little in this brief that could not have been endorsed by the Bush DOJ. A couple of rhetorical flourishes here and there might have been different. Perhaps a turn of phrase. But, minus some references to procreation and slippery slopes, the substance is there.

Obama says he opposes DOMA as a policy matter and wants to repeal it. Nothing in the DOJ brief prevents him from acting on that belief. He is, he says, a “fierce advocate” for gay and lesbian Americans. When does that part start?

David Link at Independent Gay Forum:

It is gratuitously insulting to lesbians and gay men, referring (unnecessarily) to same-sex marriage as a “form” of marriage, approving of congressional comparisons between same-sex marriages and loving relationships between siblings, or grandparents and grandchildren, and arguing (with a straight face, I can only assume) that discrimination against same-sex couples is rational because it saves the federal government money.  There are some respectable arguments in this motion, and this kind of disrespect is offensive.

Chris Crain:

The people in the Justice Department writing this brief made so many discredited and ridiculous arguments for DOMA, I hope these were really intended to help the court see the fallacy of DOMA to persuade the court to strike it down. Otherwise my only other conclusion is that the Obama White House has thrown us overboard.

Dan Savage:

Barack Obama’s record on gay rights so far: disturbing, unsound, false, discriminatory, damaging, nonsensical. Before today you could argue that the Obama administration was too busy with the economy and the war and health care to focus on making good on his campaign promises to gays and lesbians, that Obama simply didn’t have the time to take up our issues. But you can’t make that argument anymore. The Obama administration has the time to take up gay rights issues—but only, it seems, to do harm.

I can’t take my vote back. And I’m not sure I would if I could. But I sure as hell would like to have my money back.

And Andy Towle:

Happy Stonewall anniversary everybody!

Congrats To Pam For Picking Up A Lezzie

Jim Burroway

February 19th, 2009

Okay, wait. That didn’t come out right. What I mean is this: congratulations to Pam Spaulding for being honored as the Best Lesbian Feminism/Political blog by The Lesbian Lifestyle in its 2008 Lezzy Awards!

So just to be clear, no U-Hauls were rented in the winning of this award.

Pam’s House Blend, Other Blogs Hacked

Jim Burroway

January 7th, 2009

SoapBlox, the online service which hosts Pam Spaulding’s blog as well as several other web sites, has been hacked and taken offline. The content of SoapBlox’s home page early this morning contained the graphic you see above (click to see the entire home page). The hacking was so severe that SoapBlox later put up a post which amounts to a going out of business announcement:

It was a good ride, but it’s over.
Thanks for all the fish.

All these hackers messing with our stuff, and we here at SoapBlox have no clue what to do. We don’t have enough knowledge, time, money, or care to fix it.

So I hope the Hackers are happy.

If you want the data from your blog, we will get it. But we are not going to try and restore anything.

Consider this the “We’re Out of Business” post.

Most of the servers have been taken off line because they were being used to hack and exploit other websites. The hackers install this crap on servers after they get in. SoapBlox’s ISP then takes the servers off line.

We do not know when they will come back online.

We do not know if they will come back online.

No word yet on when Pam Spaulding’s web site will be back online. Hope it’s soon. We miss her already.

Update: Pam is back — for now.