Ever confused about just what the Obama administration’s legal reasoning is when it comes to LGBT rights? So are we! And when we can’t quite make out just what it is Obama is trying to do legally, we often turn to lawyer-journalist Chris Geidner of Metro Weekly and the Poliglot blog.
Geidner says that, convoluted as it may seem, there is a certain legal logic to the administration’s approach, which appears to be building towards something. We asked him to explain it in the above video to the Voice audience.
It can be rather difficult to keep the administration’s legal rationale straight when it comes to LGBT rights. After all, the administration defended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on appeal in court just months before the President signed it out of law, even though activists were begging him to simply do nothing and passively agree with a federal court ruling that found the law unconstitutional. Then, just months later, Obama’s Department of Justice did just that in finding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and discontinuing its defense. And then you had the nation’s first black President crying states’ rights while hauling cash from New York’s GayTM just 24 hours before the Empire State legalized same-sex marriage.
Geidner is actually able to parse something out of this seeming schizophrenia. He thinks that a brief filed last Friday, July 1st– in the case of federal worker Karen Golinski suing the federal government for the right for her same-sex spouse to receive the identical benefits she’d receive were she a man — “is the single-most persuasive legal argument ever advanced by the United States government in support of equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”
Citing from the brief, Geidner notes how Obama’s DOJ admits that:
“The federal government has played a significant and regrettable role in the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals.”
In our conversation, he also noted that the DOJ calls out 20 local governments and municipalities in creating legal discrimination, up to and including the recent controversial Tennessee law which bans any discussion of homosexuality in school. bans any county, city or school district from passing anti-discrimination laws or policies protecting LGBT people. (Tennessee passed two anti-LGBT laws this year, but as Geidner points out, the DOJ’s brief only addresses one of them.)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 6, 2011