Obama needs to move on gay rights

The president has recently extended federal benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees, but many are calling this olive branch too little, too late.

President Obama recently hosted 250 gay rights leaders at the White House to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village . While there has been a vast improvement from the active denial of gay civil rights during the Bush administration, many advocates continue to find themselves frustrated and hurt by the current presidentâÄôs inaction to address the discriminatory policies of decades past. The gay community flocked to the polls in droves to vote for this âÄúfierce advocateâÄù of gay rights, only to find themselves taken aback by a recent Department of Justice brief defending the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Obama administration has thus far failed to repeal the much criticized âÄúDonâÄôt Ask, DonâÄôt TellâÄù policy barring openly gay servicemen and servicewomen from serving in the military, despite a recent rash of uniformed comings-out and the subsequent well-publicized courts martial. A New York Times/CBS News poll recently showed that 57 percent of people younger than 40 support same-sex marriage, compared to only 31 percent of the 40-plus crowd. A whopping 75 percent of all age groups support the repeal of âÄúDonâÄôt Ask, DonâÄôt TellâÄù and the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces. Six states have already legalized gay marriage. ItâÄôs time for the federal government to do the same. President Obama canâÄôt simply wait for Congress to dither over the repeal of DOMA. The administration needs to take action. Part of that includes an order repealing âÄúDonâÄôt Ask, DonâÄôt TellâÄù from our commander in chief. If President Obama wants to expand health care coverage in this country, he could start with the thousands of gay couples living in states that specifically deny such benefits to same-sex partners. The same goes for survivorâÄôs benefits, inheritance, the ability to adopt children and make medical decisions. This editorial, accessed via UWire, was originally published in the Daily Nebraskan at the University of Nebraska. Please send comments to [email protected].