Do You Understand What Happened This Week With The Obama Administration and LGBT Equality?

I hope you have been paying attention, but it is tremendously complicated.  From FireDogLake

The Obama administration on Wednesday decided not to move forward with an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination among federal contractors that is a top priority for the LGBT community.

“While it is not our usual practice to discuss Executive Orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an Executive Order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time,” a senior administration official told The Huffington Post. “We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with congressional sponsors to build support for it.”

The decision is a blow to LGBT activists who had huddled with administration officials at the White House earlier in the day to discuss the status of the executive order. That meeting featured White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett along with officials from the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups.

This is a serious blow. This would have established protection for LGBT persons in their jobs – a lynchpin to equality. Yet, the Administration won’t take action. And no one has a concrete reason that resonates.

Now I had dinner last week with someone – an educated, bright person – who genuinely thought this was in place. In fact, she seemed to think that because the President had offered domestic partner benefits to some federal employees (not all), that included anyone who worked for the government. I tried my best to explain that it doesn’t work that way, but frankly — its complicated to explain.

And its disheartening to be the one who constantly bursts the bubble of LGBT folks who sincerely believe that they have certain rights.

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Another example was a recent adoption by a same sex couple that I know. This did not take place in Pittsburgh so it was disconcerting to realize that technically, they had no legal definition to describe their nearly 20 year relationship. There is no “domestic partnership” in the eyes of the law, no common law marriage, no nothing. In Pennsylvania, a lot of people don’t even realize there’s no legal status as “separated” … you are single or you are married. The person with whom you cohabitate is either your spouse or not. That’s it.

It also stunning to realize that the judge could simply stop the second parent adoption. Period. There’s no statutory law or administrative code ensuring unmarried couples of any orientation can adopt a child together. The judge has to waive Pennsylvania law. The reason we have second parent adoptions is that Pennsylvania court basically said if the state permits straight unmarried couples to adopt, they have to permit gay couples. It is a legal precedent, not a law.

People don’t realize this. They often don’t believe me when I bring it up. And that denial is very dangerous.

Because there are forces at play in Pennsylvania government who don’t think you should have the right to adopt, that you don’t deserve domestic partner benefits, that you should be able to access life insurance and death benefits. And if you aren’t paying attention to these incremental steps – like executive orders – you might be lulled into not taking them seriously.

Yes, they can put a stop to second parent adoptions. They can simply don’t allow anyone to adopt who isn’t legally married. It happens with international adoptions all of the time. It is that tenuous, my friends. Who is going to defend your family in the face of that possibility?

The President who won’t protect you if your employer is being contracted by YOUR federal tax dollars?   Really? You sure he’s got your back?

I think he’s pretty sure he’s got your vote, my friend. And he’s not particularly worried what you think or how your family experiences life in the US until after November 2012.

I realize I’m conflating state and federal policies, but my point is that our alleged allies are pretty weak-willed. Obama has some good stuff on his record and I’m not suggesting you vote otherwise. But I would suggest that a campaign donation might be better invested in a candidate who isn’t willing to wait for our equality. Or an organization in the trenches battling for your rights and the rights of your children.


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