Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fierce Advocate, My Ass

Tuesday's victory when it comes to the death of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will, at the very least, be delayed. That's because word came on Thursday that the Justice Department will appeal U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling that enforcement of the policy prohibiting openly homosexual soldiers from serving be immediately stopped.

Her ruling gave the DOJ 60 days to appeal.

Let me be up-front and say I have no idea how much input President Obama and his advisers in the White House have when it comes to determining how the Justice Department operates. The DOJ does have the obligation to defend this nation's laws while they're on the books, even if the individuals disagree with said law.

That said, Judge Phillips' 60-day window says, to me, that the Justice Department had the option of letting the decision stand, and the fact that the department has decided not to puts this squarely on the shoulders of Attorney General Eric Holder -- and rightly or wrongly, President Obama.

In many ways, the Justice Department is an extension of a presidential administration, so if the DOJ is appealing Judge Phillips' ruling, the buck ultimately stops with President Obama.

Who campaigned on repealing DADT.

Who promised to repeal DADT in his State of the Union address back in January.

Who has called himself a fierce advocate for repeal of DADT.

But ... the actions are not matching up with the rhetoric. President Obama has repeatedly expressed his preference that Congress repeal the law. On the surface, that makes sense, since DADT was first passed by Congress when Bill Clinton was president. However, in practice, it's not that simple.

There's a Pentagon review, and when the House of Representatives passed a DADT repeal last month, it was contingent on that review. There's also the matter of the Senate failing to pass the repeal, as Senate Republicans -- and the Democrats from Arkansas -- filibustered the entire defense spending bill solely because of the DADT repeal and the DREAM Act.

Simply put, Congress failed. But because of how the Constitution frames our government, there were other options for repeal. President Obama could've issued an executive order halting enforcement of DADT until such a time that repeal was passed. He didn't.

The courts have heard lawsuits challenging DADT's constitutionality (brought forth by the Log Cabin Republicans), and Judge Phillips ruled DADT was in fact unconstitutional -- which paved the way for the death of this horrifically bigoted policy.

Now the Obama administration is defending DADT. And the Defense of Marriage Act.

Fierce advocate, my ass.

I know I'm beating a dead horse here. I know I've said all of this before, twice on Wednesday. But this bears repeating, because when it comes to America, nothing trumps equality. If every single one of us is not equal under the law, whether we are civilian or military, gay or straight, then we as a country are not all we profess to be -- nor are we all that we can be.

If we are not equal, we are not America. As long as DADT is on the books, we are not equal. President Obama, if you want DADT to go away, make it go away. Stop passing the buck and delaying what should be inevitable, because whatever reason you give isn't good enough.

Equality or nothing. It's that simple.

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