There is something going around in the LGBT rights movement for months that has me more than a little irritated, and it's the attitude that everything has to happen now now now, and that LGBT rights is more important than anything on the face of this Earth, so why isn't Congress voting on it tomorrow?!?!
One latest example, from Alex Blaze at The Bilerico Project:
The AP's optimistic about ENDA. Considering the fact that 90% of Americans support job protections for LGB people and 65% of Americans support such protections for trans people, we shouldn't have to be waiting for the stars to align when we already have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president who says he supports the bill. But that's the new reality, where anyone to the left of GWB is a crazed dirty fucking hippie, and everything can be put at risk by the a hecklers' veto from a minority of the country that will never go along with anything.
Okay. So I am with everyone on the note that the Administration fucked up and insulted our community with the DOMA brief. I agree that movement on DADT can be done now. I agree that they mishandled the expansion of rights for folks working within in the Administration, although I give them credit for doing what can be done absent the legislation needed to expand the full range of rights. I give the Administration, and Congress, poor marks so far.
But call me an Uncle Tom or whatever, I actually do believe it makes some political sense to enact measures that (a) candidates run prominently on (b) make a wide swath of people happy (c) are are somewhat urgent (d) enable the Administration and Congress to become more popular so you can push through the more controversial measures. We should learn something from Clinton's 1993 experience on Don't Ask Don't Tell. For examples of such measures, see: pulling troops out of Iraq. See: trying to get the economy out of a tailspin. See: legislation to reduce foreclosures. See: credit card reform. See: Cash for Clunkers. See: health care reform.
LGBT rights isn't that. Yes, you can point to 90% of Americans supporting job protections and all of that. You can tell me ENDA isn't controversial anymore. That's not the relevant statistic here. The relevant statistic is that ENDA is probably 168th on the list of things people care about, just below whether their recycling gets picked up once or twice per week. Like it or not.
Yeah, I know things like stem cell research, which the Administration issued an executive order on this year, isn't necessarily on the top ten list of urgent national priorities. But I do know it's more important to more Americans than ENDA. Or hate crimes. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.
So screaming at the President for not taking action on every single piece of LGBT rights legislation NOW NOW NOW and resorting to snark and whining is one tactic to pressure the Administration. I'm not sure it's the best one. I don't think LGBT rights should pushed off until the midterms or farther than that, and if some action isn't taken in Congress at some point early next year I will start having a problem. I don't think anyone should sit idly by while the Administration refuses action on DADT and screws us on the DOMA brief. But unless you're a single-issue LGBT voter- in which case, I have a serious nit to pick with you- I just don't think insisting your issue is the most pressing thing on the agenda is the the most politically savvy thing to do. Let's be smart about what to move on first.
Update:Over lunch, I read Bill Clinton's interview in the new Esquire edition. The part I want to highlight, where he answers a question relating to Obama pushing through a lot of change in a short period of time:
So do I think he's doing the right thing, even though he's jamming a lot of change down the system? I do. And he learned from some of the problems that I faced. For example, I am sure he's in favor of reinstating the assault-weapons ban, but he let Congress go on that and said, "Okay, you rural guys, we've got to deal with climate change, we've got to deal with health care, we ought to do this student-loan thing to get our college costs back in line and make it affordable again, so I'll cut you some slack on assault weapons."
Clinton said this in the context of how rural Democrats got destroyed in 1994. Something to think about as to perhaps why there is little movement on LGBT issues, rightly or wrongly.