Although Barack Obama stated his opposition to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on open gays in the military, the Obama team has let it be known that it will not try to repeal the law during the next session of Congress.
And now there are reports that despite New York state Democrats' support for same-sex marriage, the state Senate will "probably" not take up the issue during the coming session.
Have gays been had? Maybe so.
A lot of gays contributed time and money to the Obama campaign, not only because Obama represented a welcome change from the dismal Bush administration, but because he espoused a number of gay-supportive positions, including repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
I can understand the Obama administration's desire not to make the same mistakes as the Clinton administration in 1993, when Clinton proceeded without taking account of the strong military opposition to the inclusion of gays such as Gen. Colin Powell's and congressional resistance as personified by Sen. Sam Nunn. You may remember Sen. Nunn's highly publicized visit to the "close quarters" of a submarine. The implication was obvious.
And I can even understand that there are more nationally pressing issues for Obama and the new Congress to deal with such as the state of the economy, the war in Iraq and the worsening situation in Afghanistan.
Then too, in 2006 and 2008 Rep. Rahm Emanuel helped create Democratic majorities by recruiting candidates who were "moderate" (and often socially conservative) Democrats to run in swing districts. He achieved his goal, but weakened the strength of Democratic support for gays.
But at some point, say within a year, I would want to see the administration form a working group or task force to develop a plan to gain military and congressional approval for repeal. It could include deployment of those 100-plus admirals and generals who recently signed a statement supporting gay inclusion, commissioning opinion polls on the issue in marginal districts, and targeting wavering members of Congress for serious lobbying and promises of pork. Without some real indication of administration intentions, I'd be inclined to think they aren't serious.
Turning to New York, The New York Times reported (Nov. 29) that "some" state Senate Democrats, who control the upper house for the first time in years-support delaying a vote on legalizing same-sex marriage until after the 2010 election-that is, until 2011 at the earliest.
"That would prevent Republicans from being able to use gay marriage as an issue against (Gov.) Paterson in socially conservative areas of the state or against Democratic Senate incumbents," the Times reported.
Maybe so, but a number of gays poured money into the campaigns of specific Democratic candidates with the aim of defeating anti-gay Republicans. What are they going to get for their money?
And why won't the same argument by Democratic leaders apply in 2011-that a positive vote on gay marriage would just give ammunition to their GOP opponents in the next election? This argument could be used in each subsequent year to justify avoiding a vote on same-sex marriage. It seems it is always jam tomorrow, but never jam today.
Further, without a popular Democrat like Obama at the head of the ticket in the 2010 election, the New York Senate Democrats might lose their narrow majority and the GOP could regain control. Then gays and pro-gay Democrats would have lost their opportunity to vote on (and maybe approve) same-sex marriage.
There is more than a whiff of a shell game in all their arguments.
I would not go so far as to say that the Democrats deliberately lie about their intentions on gay issues. But they certainly promise more than they can or know how to deliver and downplay the post-election difficulties of fulfilling their promises. And hearing their promises, gay "leaders" (most of whom are Democrats anyway) become excited and beat the drums for supporting the Democrats with money and get-out-the-vote efforts. Then they wind up with nothing. Strangely, they are never apologetic about all this.
None of this is to suggest that anyone need support Republicans instead. With but a handful of honorable exceptions, the GOP embrace of the Religious Right makes that implausible. But gays should be more selective about which candidates they support and sometimes vote for a minor party or not vote at all in a given race.
And we should demand specifics on how a given policy will be enacted, not just accept a general message of support. As Sam Goldwyn is alleged to have said, "A verbal contract is not worth the paper it's written on."