LGBT group to Obama: "We are human beings"

The Human Rights Campaign sends a letter to the president about his administration's defense of DOMA

By Alex Koppelman
June 16, 2009 2:15AM (UTC)
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Gay rights groups didn't expect miracles from President Obama, certainly not this early in his administration. But they are disappointed with his performance thus far anyway, largely because of his failure to keep his promises when it comes to things like the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

They were particularly upset at the end of last week, when news broke that Obama's Justice Department had filed a brief in support of DOMA in federal court. The language of the document, which at one point seemed to compare same-sex marriage to incest and to the marriage of children, was particularly galling.


In response, Joe Solomonese, who leads the Human Rights Campaign, one of the LGBT rights movement's most prominent groups, wrote a long and heartfelt letter to Obama about the brief and his attitude towards gays generally. In it, Solomonese says:

Last week, when your administration filed a brief defending the constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,”[1] I realized that although I and other LGBT leaders have introduced ourselves to you as policy makers, we clearly have not been heard, and seen, as what we also are: human beings whose lives, loves, and families are equal to yours. I know this because this brief would not have seen the light of day if someone in your administration who truly recognized our humanity and equality had weighed in with you ....

As an American, a civil rights advocate, and a human being, I hold this administration to a higher standard than this brief. In the course of your campaign, I became convinced—and I still want to believe—that you do, too. I have seen your administration aspire and achieve. Protecting women from employment discrimination. Insuring millions of children. Enabling stem cell research to go forward. These are powerful achievements. And they serve as evidence to me that this brief should not be good enough for you. The question is, Mr. President—do you believe that it’s good enough for us?

If we are your equals, if you recognize that our families live the same, love the same, and contribute as much as yours, then the answer must be no.

Hat-tip to Michelangeo Signorile.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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