The Senate is about to vote on a hate crimes bill that the House has already approved. It will pass. President Obama has already pledged to sign the bill. Apologists for Obama will hold this up as proof that the president—after sticking a knife in our ribs last Friday—is making good on his promises to gays and lesbians, that—hey!—he's our "fierce advocate" after all.
Don't fall for it.
This hate-crimes bill is the same hate-crimes bill approved by the last Congress, a more conservative Congress, and vetoed by President Bush. It's not a new agenda item, it's passage is something we had a right to expect as a matter of course. The passage of a gay-inclusive hate crimes bill does not amount to serious action on Obama's gay rights agenda. Obama laid out his gay right agenda in an open letter to the gay community—he made his promises to us in writing—when he was running for the Democratic nomination, an agenda that name-checked hate crimes but placed much greater emphasis on ending the ban on gays in the military and the repeal of DOMA. The passage of the hate crimes bill is nice, but it's a largely symbolic law and its passage will not impact the lives of many gays and lesbians. Ending DOMA and DADT will.
But Obama made it clear last week that he intends to defend DOMA—which he does not have to do—and he intends to defend it using the vilest terms and the most aggressive possible tactics. And on DADT the administration has made it clear that it's not going to do shit about DADT and says that DADT can only be ended through legislative action. And Congress—in the person of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—says it isn't going to do shit to end DADT and suggests that the White House end it administratively.
And the White House sent John Berry—the highest-ranking gay official—out to tell the Advocate that gays and lesbians should expect NOTHING from this administration besides hate crimes legislation for at least six or seven years.
Now, I’m not going to pledge—and nor is the president—that [DADT or DOMA] is going to be done by some certain date. The pledge and the promise is that, this will be done before the sun sets on this administration—our goal is to have this entire agenda accomplished and enacted into law so that it is secure.
Welcome to the fierce urgency of... fuck off, shut up, go away.