Merry Christmas! Dems Duck DADT

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

December 26th, 2008

How’s this for a Christmas present? The Roll Call is reporting that Congressional Democrats have decided to delay taking up the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for at least two years — that would be after the mid-term elections:

Key Democrats — even openly gay lawmakers — are quietly conceding to letting another two years go by before trying to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the controversial 1993 law banning openly gay people from serving in the military. Most fear that moving too quickly on such a divisive issue could backfire, and most would rather tread lightly, at least in the early months of President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) both have said the time is right to revisit the policy that Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, helped implement. But Pelosi, for one, refused to say whether she planned to bring legislation to the floor next year to overturn the law…

Democratic lawmakers regularly beg off questions about the contentious policy, arguing that other issues are far more important — such as winding down the war in Iraq or bolstering the economy. They also remember the political uproar when then-President Bill Clinton used the beginning of his presidency to try to overturn an outright ban on gays serving in the military. That effort tied his administration in knots in his first months in office, and Democrats fear a repeat performance.”

The country has chanced a lot in the past fifteen years since DADT was put into effect. But the Dems haven’t. They’re just as cowardly as they always were, this time spooked by a fifteen-year-old ghost.

The Democratic party holds a commanding presence in the House, and a very strong one in the Senate. If they wait two years, we’re looking at after the mid-term elections — when the ruling party typically loses seats.  After that, we’ll hear the predictable counsel that DADT will not be doable with the more conservative Congress. This is the strongest position the Democratic party is likely to be in for some time.  As one famous politician who had no fear of shaking things up often asked, if not now, when?

And where is the HRC on this? Oh, I see. They’re fully on board with the timid wait-and-see approach. Are they representing our interests here? Or the Democratic Party’s?

It’s time we had leadership that’s not afraid of its own shadow. Our opponents certainly haven’t made their gains by moving with such timidity.

[via Queerty]


December 26th, 2008

Well, well.

So, the truth of how the Democrats view their precious minority constituents is revealed. How wonderful! It’s always a good thing when politicians reveal their true selves.

Sometime last month, I believe, I commented on BTB that if DADT isn’t gone by November of next year, the gays who voted for the Dems will know they were used. Well, it’s now official.

The policy stigmatizes homosexuals for the purpose of stigmatizing homosexuals. Accordingly, 75% of the people support repealing it. But that’s not good enough for those proud, gay-loving Democrats. Oh, no!

But then, what is stopping the military from stigmatizing and persecuting its gay members compared to socializing banking, socializing medicine, appointing judges who will find foreign laws binding on American governments, and other really important Democratic causes.

It’s all up to our new Messiah Obama now. If he’s serious about getting DADT repealed, he will make it happen. Otherwise…


December 26th, 2008

My question is why is there more outrage over Warren being chosen to deliver the inaugural invocation than Obama and Congress backpedaling on DADT? Yes, I believe the selection of Warren was wrong, and the gay community was right in sending such a message. But this is just a ceremony. How many more gay rights issues are Obama and Congress going to sidestep for another two years, and then as Jim says, will sidestep again because the Democrats will have less power, or because they’ll want to wait for Obama to be re-elected.

Is it a question of cowardice? Or the Democrats really don’t favor gay rights? Or both? And why are gay organizations, which actually finally had the courage to criticize Obama for his choice of Warren, agreeing to sit silently by after being slapped in the face once again?


December 26th, 2008

Perhaps the reason for the delay is that the Democrats have changed in the last 15 years.

Recently the Democrats have been recruiting candidates who are more conservative than your average Democrat, in order to run in red districts.

Perhaps the Democrats are now more conservative than they were 15 years ago.

a. mcewen

December 26th, 2008


I agree that there should be concern about DADT but I don’t agree with the “if the Democrats don’t do it exactly how we think they should then they are spineless cowards” language.

It’s too early to be that strident.

For now, I have a wait and see attitude. Maybe that is what HRC is doing.

Tom in Lazybrook

December 26th, 2008


I’m tired of HRC playing the get along route. That game might have some credibility if they could show that their strategy of “lets wait” actually brought dividends. But I don’t see any case where waiting is fruitful. There will be a crisis whenever our issues are brought up. So why wait? How many more lives and careers and pensions will have to be ruined while we wait until the 12th of never to get this repealed? When will the Dems have a 70 seat majority in the House, the Administration, and the Senate again? We can get this to the floor of the Senate in January.

Tom in Lazybrook

December 26th, 2008

Oh, and what are we going to get for this ‘kick it down the road’ approach? Where are the Gay federal judges, policy making and agency heads? Where is the timetable to enact ENDA? Where is the timetable to enact PPIA?

Please tell me the HRC didn’t cave just so that Obama could come make a speech at their fundraiser. Thats not change we need. Its change in HRC’s pocket.

Ben in Oakland

December 26th, 2008

Well, as I said on another thread, this is the sort of thing that tells me why, even given that I would never vote for any republican I can tihnk of, i would never give money to a Democrat or the Democrats.

Jason D

December 26th, 2008

Well, since this Congress is done, and so is Obama’s first, and second terms, let’s start criticizing the Palin/Hannah Montana Administration of 2016!

Talk about impatient!


December 26th, 2008

HRC= incompetent, useless, and waste of money.

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2008

HRC seems to believe the following:

Democrats are far more likely to vote favorably on bills that are extremely important to the gay community. Therefore, Democrats must be kept in power even at the cost of bills that are extremely important to the gay community.

As a fiscal conservative, I have to ask: if neither Party is going to advance my equality, why should I vote for one with which I disagree on so many other issues? I’m sure members of Third Parties are wondering the same.


December 26th, 2008

Absolutely no surprise, the media reported weeks ago that the Democrats would be avoiding DADT. On Nov 20th, I wrote that Obama wasn’t even waiting until he takes office to betray the people who elected him — he was already packing his cabinent with pro-war people.

From what I can see is Obama is consistently in favor of expanding the power of the state over individuals and DADT removes some of that power. War expands this power so he favors it. Handing massive subsidies to major corporations expands state power so he favors it. He’s rather consistent so far — badly so in my opinion.

But also much the problem here belongs to the gay community itself. The worshipful attitude during the election where so many Obamatrons saw him as the messiah sent to save us made it clear to Obama that he could do a lot of betraying before paying a political price for it. That the major gay lobbies have become wings of the Democratic Party is another assurance he has that he can betray gays for a long time and still count on their support.

It is also a basic principle of politics that any major reforms a candidate will push through have to be done in the first year or they will stall. Delaying the repeal of DADT for 2+ years may mean it is there for a lot longer than that.

Jason D

December 26th, 2008

I’m sorry, I can’t take anyone seriously who calls Obama “The Messiah”. It’s so strangely heretical for the Right to use such a holy word as a schoolyard taunt.

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2008

The timeline of excuses:

Year One: we have higher priorities such as the budget, the economy, the war, foreign relations, the Easter Egg roll, the auto industry, pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey, terrorism, and lighting the White House Christmas Tree.

Year Two: we can’t act on this immediately before the mid-term election. Don’t be so selfish.

Year Three: we lost seats in Congress. This is not the time to push a partisan agenda.

Year Four: Good God, man!!! You don’t expect the President to take up controversial issues in the middle of his re-election efforts.

Year Five: we need to address significant issues which were brought to our attention during the campaign. But we will get to them this term just as we promised during the campaign.

Year Six: we can’t act on this immediately before the mid-term election. Don’t be so selfish.

Year Seven: we lost seats in Congress. This is not the time to push a partisan agenda.

Year Eight: What was that you wanted? Ah, well the President may be interested. But, of course, after eight years he’s spent all his political capital and is now fighting factions in his own Party. And his popularity rating is the lowest it’s ever been – in part due to failure to come through on promises. But he’ll certainly give it some thought and maybe try and work out a compromise. How would a speech do?

That’s pretty much how it works with any Party and any President and any interest group and any issue when the elected official has little to no interest in doing what he promised. It will be interesting to see if Obama fits this mold.

Mark F.

December 26th, 2008


You are starting to understand politics. Congrats!


December 26th, 2008

Jason D, I will still give Obama and Congress a chance here. But we’ve already seen backtracking on one issue. I think it’s good to start now and hold their feet to the fire. If not, then we will probably see Timothy’s timeline happen verbatim.


December 26th, 2008

“The policy stigmatizes homosexuals for the purpose of stigmatizing homosexuals. ”

Actually, no… at least thats not the official position on it. It goes more on the line of ‘unit stability’. Of course, at least 75% of americans know that’s just bs.

WHY is it that they think it is better to postpone the repeal? Whos opposing the repeal? Surely its not the populace… so whos at the head of the support for the DADT.

“That the major gay lobbies have become wings of the Democratic Party is another assurance he has that he can betray gays for a long time and still count on their support. ”

Gee it’s not like gays have a choice. Democrats are the lesser of two evils imo.

Timothy Kincaid

December 26th, 2008


Yes, Democrats are in many ways the lesser of two evils. But I think that we contribute to that reality.

When we found out that Mark Buse, McCain’s long-time Chief of Staff, is a gay man in a permanant relationship, the loudest voices in our community rose up in rage at Buse, calling him all sorts of names. In retrospect it might have been a better stategy to praise McCain for his inclusiveness and ask why Obama did not have anyone gay at a high level around him for decades.

Republicans have nothing to gain by bringing gay voices to high levels of trust and respect. Democrats have nothing to lose by ignoring us.

We hope that Box Turtle Bulletin does not allow partisanship to get in the way of rewarding progress by either Democrats or Republicans while holding both subject to criticism for bad policies.

David C.

December 26th, 2008

Perhaps best way to get DADT repealed is to get the Joint Chiefs to call for its repeal.

If the Democratic party is afraid of a backlash from overreaching in the first two years of the Obama administration, all they really have to do is help the military to itself recommend the repeal of DADT.

If I were a congressperson, I might be willing to bet a little political capital on a small appropriation attached to a defense spending bill for the military to conduct a complete study of DADT financial and readiness impact. Do it early, say in the first two years, and there is a strong chance we could still see a repeal of DADT in the first term of the Obama Administration. The study would almost certainly reveal that the military benefit of DADT is negative. Congress, seeing that is has little legitimate criticism to risk, should then be unafraid to repeal the act.

Early on, the Obama Administration needs to be getting the superstructure if its legislative agenda planned, and that means gathering information on the scale appropriate to make national policy. This is the ideal time to launch a low visibility but politically valuable series of studies that get the right information into the hands of policy makers. These in turn can be used to legitimately steer public opinion by translating measurements into statements of policy that benefit society without relying on superstition, or the distortion of partisanship.


December 26th, 2008

I’ve been reading Randy Shilts’ classic “The Mayor of Castro Street,” and the parallels between the Congressional Democrats and groups like HRC today and the gay moderates in San Francisco during Harvey Milk’s day are depressing.

Back then, the gay moderates took a similar wait-and-see approach and were content to just elect liberal “friends” who then sat around and did nothing for the gay community, but would gladly sell out the gays for the sake of political expediency.

Tom in Lazybrook

December 26th, 2008

I think its time that a GRO (Gay Rights Organization) be founded in order to challenge HRC’s self appointed ‘national leadership status’. This organization would:

1) Engage in MEDIA campaigns beyond issuing press releases

2) Fight for Gay causes, and not try to go along to get along

3) Not be interested in being a permanent organization but exist to enact ENDA, repeal DADT, repeal DOMA, enact PPIA, etc. and then fold.

4) This organization will not be tied to any political party. If Pelosi doesn’t LEAD on our issues, we will run someone against her in a SF Democratic Primary. We will run an independent progressive in New Orleans’ CD 7 district. If Webb wants to kill DADT repeal, we will run an independent in the next VA general election. If they aren’t in power to work for our rights, then I don’t see any reason why they should be in power period. Who cares if the GOP takes advantage? Because I can get 3 5th level appointments and 2 ambassadors from the GOP. Is that all were gonna get from the Dems.

Give to HRC and get a nice dinner with a black tie. Give to others and get SOMETHING done.

Tom in Lazybrook

December 26th, 2008

Don’t think we can’t cause the Dems heartburn. We can. Just because the GOP is worse doesn’t mean we should wait for others to be making the case that we OURSELVES should be making. There ARE ways that we can hold the Dems feet to the fire.

1) Pelosi – we probably can’t win a primary against her in SF dem primiary, but we could cause her some serious embarrasment. I’d say 30-35% would be a reasonable goal for a reasonable Gay (not some Green or ‘freind’ but one of our OWN) challenger (not Cindy Sheehan) in a SF Dem primary. We should look for Dem committee chairs in areas with large Gay populations as well. No ENDA, No PPIA, no HCPA, no DADT repeal, and lets go for it. For example, if Sheila Jackson Lee heads a committee that kills one of our bills, then lets go after her too.

2) Areas where the Dems expect our help. If the Dems nominate another anti-Gay candidate in New Orleans to try and take out Anh Cao, we should have a third party run. Would the gay candidate win? No. Could the gay candidate get 15% yes.

3) The Senate is another area where we can go after those against our interests. So Jim Webb wants to keep DADT in place. Fine. Lets see him try to keep his seat in Virginia if we can get 5% of progressives to vote 3rd party.

The Dems see us as expendible. Because we have leaders that don’t fight for us. We have to cause trouble for them to take us seriously. And trouble isn’t part of the HRC’s retinue.


December 26th, 2008

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (Dem.-Walnut Creek, CA) has introduced legislation to repeal DADT in the past and had 149 sponsors. She has made it clear that she is planning to do the same in 2009. So it is going to be sitting on the Congressional docket. If they don’t act, we are seriously going to need to make the pay.

By the way Tauscher ironically is considered among the more conservative of SF Bay Area congressional democrats in Congress. Perhaps the strategy is going to be to have this thing introduced and pushed from the bottom of the congressional ladder, rather than from Pelosi, Reid and Obama. If that is their strategy, fine, but there sure as hell better be action on this issue in the first 2 years of this administration.

Tom in Lazybrook

December 26th, 2008

And Tauscher and Pelosi HATE each other. If Tauscher is out in front, and Pelosi can’t LEAD on this issue, then lets see what kind of fun we can have with ol’ Nancy.


December 26th, 2008

Jason D,

I beg your pardon.

I didn’t realize that mocking the absurd fawning over the president-elect, the great Barack Hussein Obama, was beyond the scope of a serious discussion.

I was also unaware that the term “messiah” was so holy that it could never be used in a secular or less-than-serious way. I will have to remember to correct others who use it in such a fashion from now on.

It’s so strangely heretical for the Right to use such a holy word as a schoolyard taunt.

You shouldn’t assume that everyone to the right of Obama and the Democrats is religious.


December 26th, 2008


Actually, no… at least thats not the official position on it. It goes more on the line of ‘unit stability’.

I was, of course, not attempting to quote or paraphrase the official position, that (open) homosexuality is incompatible with military service.

Of the various rationals offered to justify said official position, the one constant seems to be the assumption that homophobia is so prevalent in the military that it is more practical to punish the victims of it than it is to go after the homophobes. Or more bluntly, the rational is that homosexuals are to blame for homophobia.

That is why I wrote what I wrote.

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