Gay City News: Socarides Wrote
DOMA/DADT Talking Points for Clinton
DOMA/DADT Talking Points for Clinton
(Is this man really the best gay critic, with all his political baggage, to spur President Obama to keep his promises to us?)I am pleased to say that reporter Duncan Osborn, in the pages of Gay City News this week, has written a terrific article, looking at memos either co-authored or solely written by Richard Socarides. Duncan shares key passages from the memos, and in the process produces the kind of journalism we need more of.
Let's hope mainstream reporters and gay bloggers follow up on his reporting, and stop giving Socarides a free ride for his time spent as a close advisor to President Clinton.
From Gay City News:
When he worked in the Clinton White House, Richard Socarides authored debate preparation materials and talking points that defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.Here's the actual memo, which was posted to the web by Paul Schindler, editor of Gay City News:
“The President has long opposed gay marriage based on his belief that the institution of marriage should be reserved for unions between one man and one woman,” Socarides wrote in a September 3, 1996 memo that he co-authored with George Stephanopoulos, a senior Clinton advisor. “The President strongly believes that gay and lesbian individuals should not be subject to unfair discrimination, which is why he has endorsed legislation outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace. But he does not believe that the federal government should promote gay marriages.”
The memo, titled “Same-Sex Marriage Talking Points” and labeled “Internal Use,” was written as the US Senate was preparing to debate and vote on DOMA, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and allowed states to do the same. DOMA passed the House and Senate by overwhelming votes. Clinton signed it on September 21, 1996. [...]
Gay City News searched multiple news databases and could find no record of Socarides publicly opposing DOMA or Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during that period. The September 3, 1996 memo went beyond opposing gay marriage and said the federal government should not recognize domestic partnerships. [...]
Is this depressing, or what? A memo co-authored by Socarides, who seems to never miss an opportunity to bash President Obama over his slow moves to undo DOMA, advocated no federal recognition even for committed gay relationships.
I believe this Gay City News article is the first time it is being reported exactly what the paper trail reveals for Socarides and what he did behind the scenes on our issues, while working for Clinton.
What was the advice Socarides helped craft?
“If asked about domestic partnerships or providing federal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian partnerships,” the memo read, White House staff should say, “These decisions are best left to state and local governments and private institutions. But since the President does not believe that the federal government should recognize gay marriage, he does not believe it is appropriate for scarce federal resources to be devoted to providing spousal benefits to partners in gay and lesbian relationships.” [...]
Scarce federal resources to provide simple recognition and dignity to our partnerships? I'd love to have Socarides explain how he determined exactly which federal resources were so paltry and couldn't extend to his gay brothers and sisters.
Okay, let's look at what Duncan found out about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and a few talking points he created for Clinton:
Socarides suggested that a possible question was, “People still debate what happened with the gays in the military issue. Given a second term, would you revisit this topic? Is there a chance you might issue the executive order changing the policy again?”
Socarides’ answer was, “Few issues in recent times have spurred the kind of debate that occurred over our nation’s policy toward gays in the military. I know that this is a sensitive and emotional issue for many people. And, as you know, many of these issues are being actively litigated in the federal courts. I thinks it’s best to let those cases run there [sic] course and see what the results.”
I don't get the sense that Socarides was looking out for the community at all. What I read in his words from back then is an absolute commitment first and foremost to his boss and his hateful policies, that are causing much damage to thousands of gay people today.
And what explanation did he offer to the Manhattan-based gay newspaper, about all this new info coming to light?
Gay City News sent the document, which was downloaded from Clinton Library website, to Socarides and asked for comment. He was also contacted by phone and said he could not speak to the newspaper at that time.
We not only have Socarides unable to provide any URLs to prove his claim of publicly urging Clinton not to sign DOMA, we also have him not sharing any comments to Duncan Osborn and his newspaper.
The questions about his time at the Clinton White House, what he may have done on behalf of the gay community, and new questions raised by the memos, will not go away and I sincerely hope Socarides gets his head out of the sand and starts to deliver real accountability and answers.