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So gay Republicans think Bill Clinton was anti-gay... uh, as compared to who, Barney Frank?

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I'm getting tired of hearing gay Republicans repeat the mantra that Bill Clinton was a disaster for gay rights, that this proves how much the Democrats have failed us, and somehow this exonerates how hateful the Republican party is to gays. Yes, Clinton screwed us on DOMA, and his wife is following suit. But putting that aside, and it's a big thing to put aside I admit (and I'll be addressing it shortly), the gay Republicans are lying to us in an effort to assuage their own guilt at still supporting a party that hates them.

The biggest complaint against Clinton, aside from DOMA, is, seemingly, that he didn't pass any great pro-gay legislation like ENDA, hate crimes, marriage, etc. Well, that's all well and good, until you realize that presidents don't make and pass legislation - Congress' do. And from 1994 until 2006, the Congress was Republican (albeit we had a brief Dem stint in the Senate when Jeffords defected). So any gay Republican who has a problem that we haven't had any great gay rights successes at the federal level in 12 years need go only in search of the nearest mirror in order to find who's to blame.

Now, let's start with DOMA. How conveniently the gay Republicans forget whose idea DOMA was in the first place: the Republican congress. They came up with the legislation to bash Democrats by bashing gays. The Republicans came up with the brilliant move (and I mean brilliant) to put the Dems in the mid-1990s in the position of either supporting gay marriage - something that was politically untenable ten years ago (and is still not super popular with the public today) - or of bashing gays. Most Dems, including Clinton, chose to bash gays rather than fall on their swords. Yeah, it sucks. But I don't hold politicians that responsible for falling victim to "gotcha" votes unless we as a community have done our homework in laying the groundwork to make it possible for those politicians to vote against this kind of legislation (though Clinton bragged in radio ads about supporting DOMA, and that was wrong). As a community we didn't do this on marriage, and still haven't done this on marriage.

The Republican majority gave the Democrats in Congress a Sophie's Choice. Yeah, I'm still pissed at Sophie, but let's not forgot the Nazis who forced the choice on her in the first place.

Next point, supposedly Bill Clinton didn't do anything for gays. We've already established that Bill Clinton couldn't pass ENDA or hate crimes or marriage or anything else pro-gay because the Republicans controlled Congress for 12 years, and Congress is the one that makes laws. What Bill Clinton could do, and did, was make political appointments, write regulations, submit budgets, and use his bully pulpit. And on all of those, he did his job for our community.

Let's look at what Bill Clinton did for gays. First off, keep in mind, we're talking 1992 here. Not 2007. It's easy now to say "George Bush also supports AIDS research." Yeah, but Ronald Reagan, who has president just 4 years before Bill Clinton, refused to even say the word AIDS for most of his presidency. It was huge for the community that Bill Clinton ran as an openly gay-friendly president and went on to be a president who supported massive AIDS funding, and appointing openly-gay staff to ambassadorships and senior government positions. And before anyone poo-poo the importance of gay jobs in the administraiton, remember the battle over Roberta Achtenberg? Appointing lesbians to political jobs was a big deal in the early 90s, even if today it might seem old hat. Clinton took a huge amount of heat for appointing Roberta, Jesse Helms practically shut down the Senate, but Clinton stuck by her, stuck by us, and got her confirmed.

We also got our first openly gay ambassador under Bill Clinton, Jim Hormel. We got job protections for federal employees based on sexual orientation - a HUGE change from the days of Reagan when gay employees were witch-hunted, lost their security clearances and their jobs. I spoke recently to a senior openly-gay State Department official who was the subject of a witch hunt in the 1980s under Reagan. The administration threatened to ruin his career if he didn't out every gay person he knew at the State Department. He said 'no' and hired a lawyer (a rather brave thing to do in the mid-80s). He told me that when Bill Clinton came in EVERYTHING CHANGED. I said to him, yeah, but things weren't still a problem in 1992 when Clinton came in were they? He told me I was wrong, it was, and the witch hunts didn't stop until Bill Clinton made them stop.

Then there's my story. I took and passed the Foreign Service Exam (oral and written) in 1989. It was my dream to join the Foreign Service. And I didn't because I was convinced they'd find out I was gay and that would be the end of my career. Funnily enough, prior drug use wasn't a problem for getting your security clearance, but being gay potentially was. I eventually refused to file the papers to get my first appointment, and that was that. The end of at least one of my dreams.

So spare me the revisionist history crap from self-loathing gay conservatives who need to convince us that the Democrats are as bad as Republicans on gay issues. That the pro-gay achievements of Democrats like Bill Clinton were no big deal at the time. The Republicans, the party of Ann Coulter, hate us. They make no bones about it. They are the folks who authored DOMA. They are the folks who block hate crimes legislation (Trent Lott personally killed it right after Matthew Shepard died). They are the folks who came up with the anti-gay amendment to Constitution to ban gay marriage. They are the folks who empowered the religious right and invited them into the entire administration, handing them the levers of government. Anyone who dares talk about how bad the Democrats are on gay rights, especially as it compares to the Republicans, is either delusional or a liar.

Yes, the Democrats aren't perfect. And as I've said, it's high time for Mr. and Mrs. Clinton to admit that DOMA was forced upon the president by the Republicans, and that it was a mistake he now regrets. But gay Republicans need to stop seeking therapy through historical revisionism. Gay GOPers are still in love with the prison guards, and no amount of lies is going to change that simple fact.

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