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Capehart on Obama and Gay Rights

June 21, 2009

Jonathan Capehart has a great op-ed in today’s Washington Post on the infamous DOMA brief outrage and Obama’s memorandum and action giving gay federal employees the spousal benefits that he can while DOMA remains law.  I’d definitely encourage reading the full piece, but below are a few key points.

Frustration with the brief and with the administration’s inaction so far on big issues such as overturning DOMA and the ban on gays serving openly in the military is understandable. Making Obama out to be a sworn enemy of gay and lesbian civil rights is not. On Wednesday, he signed a memorandum extending a number of benefits to the partners of gay federal employees. This was the culmination of work that began in December. For the first time, not only did a sitting president utter the acronym “LGBT,” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but it was also the first-ever spoken recognition of transgender Americans by their president.

Capehart then went on to explain exactly what the memorandum meant.

Obama directed all Cabinet secretaries and John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest-ranking openly gay person in the administration, to conduct a policy review within 90 days to determine where inequalities for same-sex partners could be eliminated under existing law. He threw his support behind the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would make all the benefits that straight couples get available to partners of gay federal employees. Obama acknowledged that his directive was “only one step.” He admitted that “among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it’s discriminatory . . . and we will work with Congress to overturn it.”

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