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Not So Knee-jerk Thoughts On DOMA, & An Apology From Me 
14th-Jun-2009 10:21 am
Having now had a few days to look over some of the information that has come in and been pored over by personal friends of mine who are lawyers and ivy league professors, I have come to accept that my reaction (as the case has been with many) was very knee-jerk in my previous post. I was angry and upset, and as a result I posted my rage without really scrutinizing what actually took place. I have since deleted that post as it serves no purpose. I know now what I didn't then and until or unless you take the time to read and process what others have simplified so generously, own that your righteous anger may be rooted in the wrong things. I'll own my ignorance and the fact that I'm neither proud of it nor happy with myself for giving in to it so quickly. I've accepted it and I'm moving on as I hope we all will, with a renewed sense of purpose and a plan to act - because there is work to be done and we all have a fair share.

If you're interested to know what has happened in regard to the Obama DOJ's brief that has effectively turned us all into hysterics (I'm just as guilty and I admit it) then I recommend reading two things. The first is a post written by my friend Joe at his blog: Everyone Calm Down On Obama DOJ’s DOMA Brief!, which offers a breakdown compare/contrast of John Aravoisis' post that whipped the masses up into an unecessary lather. In retrospect the AmericaBlog post seems way out of context when you assess the situation reasonably and with logic, scrutiny, and without personal bias.
The blogosphere is on fire because of the recent brief submitted by Obama’s DOJ in response to a lawsuit, Smelt v. United States, seeking to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act that states marriage to be only between a man and a woman. The fires are being stoked by Americablog, which in my opinion twists what’s going on in the brief out of context for people who are not well-versed in the legal arguments being made. I’m not happy that Obama is defending DoMA, but let’s have a rational discussion about what’s really going on.

The other thing to read after the Centerblue post from Joe is my friend Ian's post here: Don't Moan, Organize:
I can't help wonder if some folks expected Obama's victory to solve all our problems. The campaign to win last year was critical and wonderful -- but it was the pre-game show; now the work really begins. I'm reminded of Frederick Douglass' stirring admonition: power never concedes anything without a struggle -- it never has, and it never will.

Let us all offer our collective gratitude to Joe and Ian for taking the time and care to weigh in on these issues and sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

I want to explain a bit more about my initial reaction. I for one felt like a lit fuse and I take full responsibility for my own part in creating and/or fueling any anti-Obama hysteria. I was wrong to have done that and I take no pride in my actions. I will not offer excuses, but I will explain why I went from 0 to 80 so fast, because I think it is similarly felt and the point is that there is now a lot more work that has to be done and we cannot afford to be lazy - this affects us all and in order to remain vigilant and bring about change, we have to be that change. It's not coming to us, we must work and fight for it, and we must stop fooling ourselves and each other with the kind of arrogant thinking that replaces effective action.

I got the news of the DOMA brief on the very day that marked the anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision, which was a the civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. This past May was the 1 year anniversary of the death of Mildred Loving, a woman I admire deeply, and I had only a few days earlier brought the case up in a discussion with a friend of mine about marriage equality as a civil rights issue. She was weighing heavily on my mind that day in particular and when this news came floating into my inbox with all the subtlety of a flying brick I had the reaction anyone without the facts of the situation might have given the gravity of the state I was in. Add to that the multitude of conversations I've had in recent months with others about how good it feels to have hope again with someone like Barack Obama in office in the current political climate, which I haven't felt in many years now. In light of the Cairo speech, I am of the opinion that a similar opportunity could not have been pulled off as effectively with Hillary Clinton as President, and the opportunity would never have happened with John McCain. It mattered and it meant something.

As someone who has blogged about civil rights and equality for years, as someone who has studied the legislature and worked with countless organizations, I've had to accept that I'm a human being and there are times when it all just gets to be too big, too much, too fast. I crack under pressure sometimes. I felt two days ago as if the wind had been let out of my sails, but that was all self delusion on my part for following the mob mentality that was angry and wanted a pound of flesh. I get it now. I'll take care not to do that again.

My apologies to anyone who was upset, offended, or mislead by my words and actions. I'm a very passionate man about my activism, but I'm still a man with faults like anyone else. All I can do is admit when I'm wrong and use the opportunity to learn something, in this case how not to make the same mistake again.

I am sorry for anyone who has felt let down by me, and I will make amends by digging in my heels a little bit deeper and continuing to open doors for others wherever I can because that is what I do.
14th-Jun-2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
Unlike a lot of passionate activists you have the conviction to say "After further consideration..." It takes character to do that. I don't always agree with everything you say, but I admire your dedication, your passion and your big heart! :)
14th-Jun-2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
If I cannot recognize when I'm wrong and learn from it - and then be able to admit when I'm wrong by owning it, then I have no business trying to be a voice for anyone. I have no respect for those who do that, and I want better for us all because I think we deserve it.
14th-Jun-2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
When I recognize I'm wrong, I arrest, imprison, and torture my critics to DEATH ON MEATHOOKS, filming their death agonies for my pleasure.

Or so my enemies say.
14th-Jun-2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place for me when I read this:


It certainly explains the tone of the document.
14th-Jun-2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this Alex...
14th-Jun-2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
I was actually just as guilty as you in my posts, however my anger was toward the numerous opportunity's he has had to handle "don't ask don't tell" or at least explain why he is turning a deaf ear to these people military careers.

For this he has no excuse. He could have at least made a statment saying he does object to the policy. I know he has alot on his plate but It takes no effort to say. "as I have stated in the past I do not support the current policy"

Give us Hope dude.
14th-Jun-2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
It's a matter of priorities. For a president with finite political capital, the economy, health care, and war come first. When Obama can do gay rights, he will. He has said he will. Don't lose hope, dude.
14th-Jun-2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
Im retired military. I cant see things in the broad scope the way that he has to. I know I'm being unfair to him, but I also know what its like to see an entire military career go down the shitter.

And honestly I am getting just a little tired of hearing "Its not time yet"

As I said i know he has allot on his plate. but the time will come when he will have to pick a side.

so I'll wait. But the waiting room needs fresh coffee and maybe a few nice muffins.
14th-Jun-2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
"I know I'm being unfair to him . . ."

I'm glad you know that.

If it makes you feel any better, society's attitudes are changing. Most heterosexual persons I know support civil rights for all.

Were you a bosun in the Navy?
14th-Jun-2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
yeppers. been called that for 20 years so I just kept it as a nick name.
14th-Jun-2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
My father was in the Navy, which is how I know the term. I have a picture of him and another sailor posing nude next to water. In some respects, I think heterosexuals were more comfortable with their sexualities before the recent rise of the Rapture Right.
14th-Jun-2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Yes agreed. I think this is more the problem than the actual act. It is the frustraction of nothing.
14th-Jun-2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
The AmericaBlog post created the reaction in you, as well as 40 million others, that it want. Getting people to talk about it and create the news. You have always dug deep and researched the issues. This is what I love about reading your political stuff you post. You always follow up and look at the arguments. Even when you get angry, you take another look when you calm down.

I read the AmericaBlog post, and frankly skipped over all the emo-crap the first time, and made a comment in someone's journal and went down in flames. We do have a long way to go for equal rights and that comes from US, the people.

You keep doing what you are doing and spreading the joy around. Huggs Bubby.
14th-Jun-2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
I for one admire you more as a result of this post. The same is true of all of us. The haters sometimes get me down (as you know), but then rationality sets in, even if it takes a day or two. I once lost an entire weekend fighting with a certain LJ user who now hates me so much she made an icon against me and came into communities I patronised just to attack me. My point? Life is hard, many human beings are evil, and it gets to us sometimes. Don't beat yourself up. Just keep doing what you think is right, examining your own behavior, and never lose your humility. I find that my perceived arrogance causes a lot of ire, though I am not really arrogant (I blame the medium).

In this case, civil rights are on the line. As you said, it's real lives being affected. It's important. Obama's a good guy.
14th-Jun-2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Well first of all, that has to be the most sincerest apology that I've seen in awhile.

While I understand your "knee-jerk" reaction, I knew there had to be more to the story.

I'm certainly not defending this action but I haven't had enough time to read more about it and will use your comments to study the issue further.

Thank you!
14th-Jun-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
It was less than a week ago that I said this about you, Brad: "I know of no other person who embodies fiery passion, compassion, intelligence, honesty, and curiosity more than Brad--he's always two steps ahead, and he's "good people" in the highest form and highest energy." I wouldn't change a thing in that description!

I think no one who reads your journals honestly believes that DOMA is good law--far from it. But there was group hysteria feeding on itself over the Americablog item...and let's face it, we set our expectations pretty high for what we have expected President Obama to do and how quickly we have expected him to do it. Our task at hand is to keep our issues off the back burner for both the White House and for Congress.
14th-Jun-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Well, you could look at the bright side - you have a good reputation for accuracy, even with bias, that before reading anything else, I took your word for what was going on over what I know so far of Obama's actions. (Also, I tend to be cynical about any politician, even if I voted for them.) Once I read that the "comparison" to incest was from citing legal precedent, I understood what was going on - but only because I worked for a lawyer for five and a half years and part of my job was to help rundown case precedent. Before doing that, I probably would've said "WTF?" on the comparison angle, too.

Of course, this also means the bright side of coming back to correct yourself is that you'll continue to get believed as well in the future, since you're willing to admit mistakes. That's pretty good and nothing to feel bad about, IMO. :-)
14th-Jun-2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
My confusion and disappointment about Obama's handling of gay issues is tempered by 2 factors:

1 - I generally trust Obama and believe that he will ultimately do what he can on gay issues.


2 - Whatever Obama does or doesn't do, a John McCain/Sarah Palin presidency would have been far worse.

I hate the fact that gay members of the military are still being expelled for their sexuality. I'm disappointed that the Obama administration has mostly been mum on the triumphs and disappointments of the past few months.

But I can only hope (and assume) that he knows what he is doing, and that patience will be rewarded. That's how I feel now. We'll see how things develop over the next year.
14th-Jun-2009 08:31 pm (UTC)

Hon, I knew what was going on, and I expected the reaction that came out of so many. I had my own moment of "You rotten bastard" when I first read it. That said, the legal issues here are, well, what they are--and it's going to take more than a stroke of a pen to undo it all.

You were as honest with your former post as you are in this one. I admire that in you; I always will.
14th-Jun-2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the post, the second link was especially valuable. I can't say I'm giving Obama a pass on all this yet, he has irritated me nearly constantly in regards to gay rights while in office.

You are an impressive fellow though to be able to admit when you're wrong when you stated it so passionately the first time. Good on you.
14th-Jun-2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Though not so vehement as yours, I made a similar knee-jerk reaction post because I felt betrayed on a very deepl level. I realzie that lionizing anyone just sets one up for a fall but this seemed luch such a slap in the face after the promise to do away with DOMA.

Thank you for posting the links-- and I want to say your apology is one of the classiest things I've seen in a long time.
15th-Jun-2009 12:21 am (UTC)
Brad, it is impossible not to like you! :) I'm so glad that I followed my intuition and added you as a friend last year when I was still new to LJ.

So Ian has posted that entry at Blogger too... oh yes, his LJ is friends-only. But your friend Joe's entry at http://joeatlarge.livejournal.com/258419.html is public, if LJ people find it more convenient to read and comment there. I found it exactly through Ian, and I'm glad that I did as it was hard for poor foreigner me to figure out what exactly was going on - and you were not the only one on my Friends Page who was angry. :) And I'm grateful to both of them.
15th-Jun-2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Well, you knee jerk reacted - so what. We've all done it occasionally. It's how you handle it after the fact.

Though, I'm not really sure I'm ready to let Obama off the hook altogether just yet. Bill Maher did an Obama rant this weekend on Real Time that you might want to check out. It's about how he is being far less effective that "we" wanted. Sure, Obama has to play by some rules, but damn Bill is right. He needs to start kicking far more ass on issues that he promised to tackle. The right/conservatives/Fox are going to whine and cry no matter what. He needs to really give them something to whine and cry about.
15th-Jun-2009 03:53 am (UTC)
I've usually found that knee-jerk reactions are often premature (and on those occasions when I get caught up in them, I often end up later thinking that I over-reacted).

One thing that I don't buy about the counter-argument here is this: Yes, the executive branch has the sworn duty to uphold the constitution and the laws of the land. However, it is NOT their job to inform the judiciary of those laws. It's the judiciary's job to know those laws in the first place, and rule on their applicability and constitutionality. So the excuse that "The executive must (robotically) push DOMA because DOMA is the law of the land" doesn't hold water.
15th-Jun-2009 11:57 am (UTC)
One extra thought: a lot of smart, kind, passionate, dedicated people are disagreeing about this issue. I'm just hoping to engage in dialogue that moves us forward, that builds bridges, not walls. And I know that that's something important to you as well, even after the heat of the first moment.
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