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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
GetEqual reacts to President Obama's DOMA decision
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GetEqual reacts to President Obama's DOMA decision

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Queer activist organization GetEqual has been very critical of what they consider the Obama administration's inaction on LGBT rights.

GetEqual activists have picketed the president's public appearances and disrupted his speeches. SGN recently contacted GetEqual for their reaction to President Obama's decision not to continue to defend DOMA in federal court. GetEqual Managing Director Heather Cronk responded to e-mail questions from SGN.

SGN: First, we'd like your general impression of the Justice Department's announcement.

Heather Cronk: The Department of Justice's announcement was a real surprise - a very positive real surprise. For the past two years, LGBT advocates have continually called on the president and the DOJ to stop defending this discriminatory law in the courts, and we're thrilled that they've done so.

SGN: In the past, you've been critical of the president, and you've picketed his public appearances because of lack of action for LGBT rights. Does this announcement make you rethink your view of Obama?

Cronk: We'll continue to be critical of the president, but that shouldn't be interpreted as not liking the president. While he was a senator, he was supportive of marriage equality, and when he decided to run for president he publicly changed that view. We believe that he should be able to wrestle with issues in the same way that the rest of the country wrestles with issues - what's unfortunate is that he's doing so at the expense of others' lives.

SGN: Why do you think this happened now?

Cronk: The president is starting to gear up for the 2012 elections and knows that he has to make hard choices. It's refreshing, politically, to see this move as one of the first of that campaign - cementing that the LGBT community has flexed muscle over the past year or two that has made it a powerful political force. We'll continue to flex that muscle in order to provide the president with whatever political cover he needs in order to take a stand for equality.

SGN: What influences do you think brought this about?

Cronk: It would be remiss to guess what was happening in the president's head or in the West Wing's corridors. I hope that the White House and the DOJ made a political calculation but, further, I hope that the people involved have made a moral calculation that they will continue to abide by.

SGN: How much would you credit your own activism for this? How about HRC-style lobbying?

Cronk: It takes all kinds to achieve change. Certainly, LGBT advocacy groups that have been working inside the suites of power have had an impact, as have those of us who are taking action on the streets. GetEQUAL's job is to provide outside leverage that those inside can use to make political calculations. I hope that was the case here and suspect that the work of GetEQUAL, combined with the powerful work of LGBT bloggers and other advocates, all contributed to this change.

SGN: Do you see any contradiction between a lawsuit-based strategy and one based on in-the-street activism?

Cronk: I see no contradiction at all between legal strategies and street-based strategies for change - in fact, I see them as both necessarily dependent on one another, as well as advocacy, lobbying, research, direct service ... the list goes on and on. All of these forces work together to create change - I hope that our movement is sophisticated enough to see value in all of these approaches, and that we'll all continue to get better at working together both openly and behind the scenes to get equal.

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