Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Sully's Dish Omits Gay Left From Socarides Accountability Post

(Page 1 of the 1996 Socarides co-authored talking points memo for Bill Clinton deflecting anger over DOMA and DADT, obtained by Gay City News. The newspaper posted the full memo here.)

Earlier today, my acquaintance and gay conservative Andrew Sullivan at his Daily Dish blog made me quite happy with his "Richard Socarides' Glass House" post.

In a nutshell, gay liaison under President Clinton Socarides today writes at his New Yorker blog that defense secretary designee Chuck Hagel account for his nasty past remarks on gays: Hagel will have to show not only some genuine regret for his past actions and statements about gay Americans but also a real command of the civil-rights issues facing the military in order to convince people of that.

To which Andrew most fabulously replied: Here's a better idea: let's have Richard Socarides not only show some genuine regret for his working for a president who signed more anti-gay laws than any other in American history - but also offer proof that he has evolved from enabling attacks on gay Americans to backing their rights. Let's get that apology now, so that he and Hagel are on equal ground.

Great to have him taking Socarides to the woodshed for a spanking, but what I don't like is Andrew omitting the extensive work over the years by the gay left to hold Socarides to account for his queer quisling actions when Clinton gave us DOMA and DADT. To finally deliver accountability from Socarides is going to take a wide spectrum of folks - from the the left and right - and I believe it will happen.

A sampling of what gay leftists have said over the years about Socarides:

Andy Humm, longtime activist and co-host of Gay USA, to City & State in February 2012:

Richard Socarides is a quisling, and I’ve said it to his face. He’s part of that money crowd that thinks they control everything, and they treat activists like they’re dirt under their fingernails.

More from Andy to my blog in June 2010:

I have been sickened by the ink and air time accorded Socarides as a critic of Obama on LGBT issues given his role as apologist for Bill Clinton when he instituted the policies he wants Obama to repeal . . . We all want Obama to do more and sooner, but who is Richard Socarides to criticize him?

Allen Roskoff, movement veteran and writer, for the AKA William site in July 2010:

I have been questioning in my columns how Socarides could mouth off on President Obama for not working hard enough to rid us of DOMA and DADT when Socarides was silent when he worked in the Clinton White House when these same laws were enacted and were signed. Socarides wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal blasting the Obama administration, and then he had the gall to appear on MSNBC to demand more pro-gay marriage promotion from the president.

Larry Kramer, who needs no introduction, circulated emails among Humm, Roskoff, Socarides and myself in June 2010, asking Socarides to explain how he opposed DOMA & DADT, receiving this reply from Socarides:

I urged Clinton not to sign DOMA at the time, both publicly and privately. I did everything I could to stop it. This is all part of the public record. I was not part of the WH policy group during DADT implementation but fought against it too, after I arrived. I have talked about all of this publicly, both then and now, including saying that Clinton was wrong, very wrong, even saying this when I worked for him.

The most incredible act of sunshining Socarides' damaging work against gay equality came from muckraking journalist Duncan Osborn for the Gay City News in June 2010:

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. 

“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  . . . 

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. 

I can't state it any clearer. Duncan is a master at using FOIA and other tools to locate public records, and he should be widely lauded for digging up that horrible memo. Socarides never provided Duncan with proof backing up his claim of public speaking against DOMA and DADT.

Going back even further, in 1996 before the presidential election, Socarides traveled to San Francisco to shore up support for the Clinton/Gore ticket and from the publisher of the Bay Area Reporter Bob Ross and his the editor Mike Salinas to Board of Supervisor member Tom Ammiano, no one was impressed with Socarides. Check out the colorful reports about that trip, because it's more proof Socarides wasn't publicly opposing Clinton on DOMA and DADT.

Let's hope Socarides is finally held to account.

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