Last year, in the heat of the primary, Barney Frank wrote a very important essay on the "partisan fights of the 90s." In light of the Obama Justice Department's decision to defend DOMA in Federal court, I would like to briefly revisit that essay.
This brings me to my particular concern with Senator Obama's vehement disassociation of himself and those he seeks to represent from "the fights of the nineties." I am very proud of many of the fights I engaged in in the nineties, as well as the eighties and before. Senator Obama also bemoans the "same bitter partisanship" of that period and appears to me to be again somewhat critical of those of us who he believes to have been engaged in it.
I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them -- and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.
It would have been nice in the nineties not to have had to fight to defend a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, and I would be very happy if that fight ended tomorrow. I was troubled when Newt Gingrich and his right wing band took over Congress after the election of 1994 and sought to put an end to programs to deal with continuing racial discrimination and the resulting inequality, and I am even more distressed that we have to continue to fight that battle against a Republican party largely opposed to all of these efforts -- consider the Bush Justice Department and its role in dealing with people's right to vote. As a gay man, additionally, I would have been delighted in the nineties if our conservative opponents had been willing to recognize our rights to be treated fairly under the law, and I would have saved a lot of time, as recently as this past year, if there was not continued strong right wing opposition to the "radical" position that people should not be denied jobs because of their fundamental nature, or that hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated less seriously than those based on racial or religious prejudice. These are three of the major fights in which I was engaged in the nineties, and I literally do not understand what Senator Obama means when he says that he does not want to keep fighting them. I know that he understands that those who were opposed to all three of those causes in which many of us deeply believe in the nineties continue their opposition, and I do not understand how we can avoid fighting those battles other than by conceding them, which I know he does not advocate.
I would like Congressman Frank to reevaluate the last clause of the last sentence in the quoted section, which I have bolded. I think an honest argument could be made that Obama has decided to concede more than a few of these battles.
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