Tuesday, May 27, 2014

HRC Briefing & Socarides on Gay Marriage to Clinton White House

There are a good number of public records available at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library web site to pore over and it's great not to have to file FOIA requests to inspect the documents.

In the archive from when Bill and Hillary Clinton were still President and First Lady, is an undated (but clearly written after the 1996 election) briefing paper from the Human Rights Campaign's executive director Elizabeth Birch that appears to be half for him and the other half for her.

This page about same-sex marriage is curious because HRC writes, "Although the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996 and in 1998 Hawaii modified their state constitution to define marriage as a 'union between one man and one woman,' the fight for equal marriage rights is not over. [...] In response [to the potential for a state to allow same-sex couples to marry], the Federal government passed DOMA in September 1996."

Notice that HRC omits saying Bill Clinton signed the damn act into law.

In their policy recommendations, HRC says, "While advancing the goal of legalized same-sex marriage may not be politically feasible at this time, there are several policies that can be advanced to enhance and protect the rights of domestic partners."

How about calling for repeal of DOMA? Not on the HRC agenda at the time.

The section about gays in the military policy states "In 1993, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law a policy on gays in the military dubbed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

HRC's policy recommendations had a long term component that included repealing DADT. Curious that HRC in this section mentions Clinton signing DADT and promotes overturning the military ban, unlike their omission regarding him putting his signature on DOMA and remaining silent about a long term goal of repealing that act.

The briefing paper for the First Lady included HRC's polling results on a number of LGBT issues, excluding gay marriage. This chart was the closest they came to surveying voters about that issue, all about hospital visitation and inheritance rights, and providing health care and Social Security benefits to gay partners.

Either HRC didn't poll on gay marriage or they did and the results were not favorable.

A cache of emails here and here from White House gay liaison Richard Socarides shows that in July 1997, he and two colleagues requested the president appear at HRC's upcoming November dinner in Washington.

Socarides writes, "It is my strong recommendation that we accept this invitation. All things considered, this is the best opportunity we will get this year to address a (extremely supportive) audience. And as you know, the Human Rights Campaign has been extremely supportive and we owe them."

Yeah, I know very well how HRC was giving cover to the Clinton White House during those years.

In early September 1997, wrote to Elena Kagan about a column by lesbian journalist Deb Price about a potential outcome to the gay marriage trial in Hawaii, and he says, "If same-sex marriage soon becomes legal in Hawaii, as this writer suggests, we will quickly have to deal with a whole serier [sic] of legal/policy questions that I don't think we are really now prepared for."

Fascinating to learn the Clinton's gay liaison hadn't given much thought to the notion that gay marriage might become reality at that time.

At the end of September 1997, Socarides wrote again to Kagan to say, "Well, like, what do we do when a legally married same-sex couple file a joint US tax return, or file for any federal benefits that legally married people would otherwise be entitled to under federal law. Do we even know what all these benefits are? In other words, I don't think anyone has given any thought how we should enforce, and just as importantly what do we say about the enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act? I just think we ought to be thinking about it, or ask someone to think about it."

It turns my stomach, as does practically everything to do with Socarides who don't forget wrote Clinton's talking points after he signed DOMA protecting him from the gay community's justifiable anger, to read that he wanted advice about _enforcing_ DOMA if one of those potential scenarios played out.

Not a single word about using those scenarios to repeal the odious DOMA from Socarides.

With advocates such as HRC and Socarides, who needs enemies?

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