October 11th, 2009
12:01 PM ET
11 years ago

Dem senators mixed on gay rights issues

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Less than a day after President Obama gave a rousing speech to the nation’s largest gay rights group, two of Obama’s fellow Democrats in the Senate had a mixed reaction on a trio of issues important to gay and lesbian supporters of the Democratic Party.

In a speech before a gathering of the Human Rights Campaign, President Obama reaffirmed his campaign pledge to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. But, to the disappointment of some gay rights activists, President Obama failed to specify a timeframe for doing so.

Sunday, on CNN’s State of the Union, Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan both said they supported the president’s plans regarding gays in the military and hate crimes legislation pending in Congress that would protect gays and lesbians.

“The president is putting the priorities in the right place,” Stabenow told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about Mr. Obama’s support for domestic partnership benefits for all couples, the hate crimes bill, and repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

But both Democrats said they could not support same-sex marriage, an important part of the civil rights agenda for many gays and lesbians.

Casey told King that he does not support efforts to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act , a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman for the federal government’s purposes and which also says states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed by other states.

Stabenow noted that her state, like some others, has already passed a law prohibiting same-sex marriage.

“So I think for a number of us that becomes a challenge for us in terms of what has happened in terms of voting in our states,” Stabenow told King. The Michigan Democrat did not directly answer King’s query about whether she would vote to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his speech Saturday night, the president also urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. But Obama does not support same-sex marriage for gays and lesbians. Instead, Mr. Obama has said that he supports civil unions as a separate legal category for gay and lesbian couples.

In his address to the Human Rights Campaign Obama also urged Congress to pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act, a piece of legislation that would provide federal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal civilian employees on the same basis that traditional married couples currently receive.

Related: Obstacles ahead for Obama's gay rights goals

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. dun

    My idea,,would let these social misfits, go and join, and that uou make sure that ,they are at the front of all conflicts.
    That way if they want to see action, they could be at the front!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. RD

    The focus right now must be on the fixing the economy which is hurting gays and lesbians like everyone else. The social issues need to go on the back burner. Many voters in Florida and California supported bans on gay marriage last November as they cast their ballot for Barack Obama. Ending DNDT and embracing gay marriage will only play into the hands of right-wing Republican wackos.

    October 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Yet another campaign promise retread with no specifics. When are you O-robots going to realize how badly you've been had?

    October 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. American Citizen

    It is wrong to call it a marriage. There is really something horrible happening here. Please stop destroying this great nation by making everything that is bad , legal. Drugs, abortion, murder, hate, capital punishment,gay marriage. There is a right way and a wrong way. Remember when you knew right from wrong? Just because a few believe this should be OK to accept; doesn't mean it is right. Are we a nation of wimps, where everytime a wheel squeaks we have to oil it, placet the wrong doers just to make them happy. I say there are trillions who believe abortion is murder, capital punishment is wrong, gay marriage is wrong, drugs are wrong- let's get up and fight this notion that anything goes.

    October 11, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. Ken in NC

    Many of you fail to understand why President Obama does not use an Executive Order to stop the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but it is like this. If he does it and gays and lesbians come out in the different branches of the service they would be allowed to serve without a problem but if he does sign such an order, when he leaves office the new President could place the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule back into affect in which case all gays and lesbians in the service would then be subject to discharge as they would be known by all and that is grounds for discharge. He needs to do this through an act of Congress so it will become law. That will take time and votes and as I see it now, there are some Democrats that are not comfortable with it and there are no Republicans willing to support it. They are all "FINE UPSTANDING FAMILY PEOPLE". Boy did that leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

    October 11, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama will sign a hate crimes bill based on sexual orientation – because he will have the backing to do so. But don't expect any change in don't ask, don't tell – I just don't think he can pull it off – before long you will hear Obama say, don't ask.

    October 11, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Debbie

    The fight for gay rights is not like the fight for rights in the black community anymore than the fight for black rights was similiar to the fight for women's right to vote. What they all have in common are "civil rights." Rights as a US citizen. What they all have in common is they were and all discriminated against. Similaries exist in 2nd class laws such as segregated schools, woman voting only in State elections, and civil unions vs marriage rights. Black men were citizens before Native American's. Still there is no one in their right mind that would claim that the fight for black civil rights was longer and much more brutal than those for gay rights today.

    October 11, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Dave from CT

    Let's push more left wing policy through (not allowing anyone time to read any of it) then Obama can enjoy his undeserved peace prize while leading our once great country into monetary, military and moral bankruptcy.
    It's scary to think about how much long term damage he has done in just nine months. 2012 can't come fast enough. The sooner Obama and Pelosi are out the better.

    October 11, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. veteran

    Gotta get those gay and lesbian votes!

    October 11, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Kjetil

    If you dont want gay marrige so dont get one... if you are gay and want too get married – get married. As a norwegian its strange too see that homofobic rethoric are jused by the liberal in US. Shame on those two. I wound never vote for any of them 😉

    October 11, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. Mike

    Why should the minority in america influence the major polices that will affect the rest of the country (the majority) Why not let america decide what it wants by using individual state referendum votes to decide what each state wants. If a couple states pass so be it if most dont then thats the will of the people. But these gay rights groups dont want that because theres a chance that it might not be the outcome that they want, instead they want to go strait to the top and and force it down everyones throat. I dont know when it happend but it seems that the normal everyday american submits to these fringe minority groups that force their beliefs or lack there of on everyone else. They supposedly want to be treated like everyone else but then want these speacial rules just for them so in the effort to be normal they alienate themselves from people that might have supported them. The only thing worse is people in power that enable them to do these things, when will america go back to representing the everyday american?

    October 11, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Cory, PA

    Marriage does NOT belong in the realm of the government. The word should be striken from every government document and law, and replaced with "civil union", which will apply to any 2 (or more people) who wish to have specific inheritance, incrimination, and healthcare decision rights applied to them.

    If a church wants to "marry" a man and woman, that is fine, but "marriage" should go back to a religious issue.

    If most of the republican party (and I am one) were actually sticking to their small government first principles they would argue for government getting out of the marriage business, but alas they stick to "small government" so far as it meats their end to more war. Oh well, Libertarians, here I come...

    October 11, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Keith in Austin

    All military bases are moving to Ft. Bozo located in Key West and Pelosi Naval Air Station in San Francisco!

    Boot camp will require pink go go boots and boas. The bleeding heart Liberals are making America just like their individual persona....WEAK on all fronts!

    October 11, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Ryan

    In the Navy, we've lost some of our best soldiers because of this idiotic D.A.D.T. – you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. Besides, the countries that don't discriminate will overpower us in sheer numbers. Beggers can't be choosers when you're in two wars. Morons.

    October 12, 2009 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
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