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LGBT Insurrection Against The Democratic Party

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2009

[Update: Three more LGBT advocates have declined to attend the DNC fundraiser in Washington next week. See below.]

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said that he won’t make a move to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on LGBT people serving openly in the military, because ultimately it is up to Congress to change the law. His spokespeople have repeated this in answer to questions about why he hasn’t issued a stop loss order in order to halt the ongoing discharges of qualified gays and lesbians from the armed forces. They have, in effect, thrown the ball completely into the Congress’ court.

Now we have word from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the reason the repeal of DADT has gone no where in the Senate is because no one has sponsored the legislation in the Senate. What’s more, he threw the hot potato right back into the President’s hands:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaking at a press conference Monday said he has no plans to introduce a bill to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the Senate.

“I haven’t identified any sponsors,” he said. “My hope is that it can be done administratively.”

A Democratic aide later clarified that Reid was speaking about the possibility of using an executive order to suspend discharges or perhaps halting enforcement of the policy by changing departmental regulations within the Department of Defense.

Which, of course, won’t happen because the President is waiting on Congress, which in turn is waiting on the President.

This shouldn’t be that hard. This isn’t 1993, when DADT was signed into law by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President. It is now 2009, when 69% of the American public believes that DADT should be repealed. When’s the last time two-thirds of Americans were united on anything else? What’s more, even 58% of Republicans and 60% of weekly churchgoers thing it’s time for DADT to go.

With public support like this, the age old question — If now now, when? — becomes less of a rallying cry and more of a taunt. Seriously, if not now, when?  We don’t need a “fierce advocate” for this one. All we need is for someone to grow a pair — and they don’t have to be very big ones.

But that’s not likely to happen. John Berry, the White House director of the Office of Personnel Management and the highest ranking gay official in the Obama administration, spoke with the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld about progress on LGBT rights. He predicted that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill would pass the Senate sometime this week. But what about repealing DADT and DOMA, or enacting a fully inclusive Employment Non-Description Act? Well, he says, they want to do it sometime “before the sun sets on this administration.”

This nebulous timetable is meaningless. If it doesn’t happen well before the 2010 mid-term elections, then we will be dependent on Obama winning a second term. After all, the next Presidential campaign will effectively begin in 2011. And there’s no guarantee that Obama will win that second term.

Which means either it happens now, or the Democratic party will essentially hold LGBT rights hostage for 2012.

DNC Fundraiser announcement. Click to enlarge

DNC Fundraiser announcement. Click to enlarge

With that news, coupled with the recent Department of Justice brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act which insults the integrity and intelligence of LGBT people everywhere, leading LGBT Democratic political veterans are beginning to register their disgust with the Democratic Party. Heck, even the Human Rights Campaign, often derided for its soft touch with political leaders, sent a sternly worded letter to Obama concerning the DOMA brief.

Meanwile, the DNC will hold a fundraiser next week in Washington, dubbed the LGBT Leadership Council Dinner. The featured speaker at the fundraiser will be Vice President Joe Biden. Openly gay Congressional representatives Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis will be in attendance.

But some key gay activists are beginning to turn down their invitations to this event. Confirmed now-shows so far include political strategist David Mixner and blogger Andy Towle. [Update: Additional withdrawals include Alan Van Capelle, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and Foundation, former top Clinton administration aide Richard Socarides, and HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse] Michelangelo Signorile has suggested that we “cut off the money flow.” Sean Bugg agrees, while Mike Rogers (a.k.a. “the most feared man in Washington”) puts an even finer point on it:

As long as tens of millions are being spent by the Pentagon to enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, gays should say to politicians “you have our money, go get it back from Secretary Gates.”

Comments

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David C.
June 15th, 2009 | LINK

You know, this seems to me to be what “demanding out rights” sounds like.

I guess when we get trashed enough times and politically kicked in the head a couple of times, we start to “grow” a few pairs of our own.

This outrage needs to continue to manifest and become an effective goad for gay leaders to finally all get marching in the same direction and put as much pressure as possible where it will do the most good.

Putting our wallets back in our pockets is a good first step.

David C.
June 15th, 2009 | LINK

“demanding our rights” of course. Sheesh.

Bruno
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

Two words: boycott Democrats. It’s actually pretty simple.

hb
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

“which insults the integrity and intelligence of LGBT people everywhere,”

That brief insults the integrity and intelligence of everyone.

The problem I see with boycotting the Dems is that it will give the GOP an advantage. Not a good idea, I wouldn’t think. How about we keep what advantage we have, and keep the pressure on?

JA
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

Oh, come on. Obama’s dealing with health care, Iran, and a bunch of rabid haters on cable news inciting violence. Tell me honestly that gay marriage is a major priority right now.

Pender
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

About time.

JA: shove it.

JA
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

You might actually try making an argument, Pender. How many people does this issue affect? How much does health care affect? You’re not the center of the damn universe.

Kristie
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

JA,

Heathcare, the economy, the war…all are important but there will always be something “more important” than dealing with the rights of GLBT people for most administrations. If people just sit by and do nothing, demand nothing, they will get nothing.

And you may not think that things like marriage equality or adoption rights aren’t as important as health care, but I’m sure that all of those uninsured members of GLBT households would disagree with you.When they can’t get coverage from their parnter’s job because they aren’t a spouse or their kids are left out in the cold because they live in a state where the partner with the health coverage isn’t allowed to adopt children with a same-sex partner should they just suck it up and wait because the economy is bad?

Should they continue to put up with not being able to see their loved ones in the hospital and make decisions for them and lose their homes & property when one partner dies just because we have troops overseas?

Matt
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

So much for “change we can believe in”

Throw em all out!

Scott P.
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

JA,

Sorry, but I have to ask you, why add insult to the injury? And how onerous can it be to just back up at least ONE of his campaign promises to us? Mr. Obama has a HUGH staff. I’m sure he doesn’t micromanage each and every item that comes his way. He asked for our money and our votes, then kicks us in the teeth with Warren, then backburners DADT, and now he’s supporting DOMA. When is it time to hold him accountable? The next election? Think he’ll make the same promises and come up with some lame excuses to justify stabbing us in our backs? He got my vote by default. He won’t get it again. Better an honest enemy to fight than a false friend.

Scott
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

JA,

Because gays view their rights as a greater priority than health care. Why shouldn’t they?

The reason it’s exploded is because this administration has shown a total unwillingness to do anything for gay rights. It has done nothing on DADT, saying it’s Congress’s job. Now Congress is saying it’s his job to do it via an executive order. This, and ENDA, are supported by 2/3 of America. If obama won’t move on this, why should the gay community vote for him?

Then you get the DOMA brief, which explicitly says gay rights aren’t real rights, like blacks and women’s. So why shouldn’t gays get pissed?

Scott
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

Ah, sorry. I got an error with my first post.

mikeksf
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

Not giving to the DNC for this fundraiser is a terrific idea! Let’s hope that the room is as empty as the campaign rhetoric we heard. I’d like to see some follow up on who does attend and who buys those $10,000 tables. What access do they think the Democrats will give them for their money?
This new defense of DOMA by the Obama Justice Dept. is an absolute outrage.
It seems to be of a pattern though with all the other opportunities that this administration is squandering:
bank reform, health care reform, climate change, energy, and truth and legal accountability.

Jason D
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

“Oh, come on. Obama’s dealing with health care, Iran, and a bunch of rabid haters on cable news inciting violence. Tell me honestly that gay marriage is a major priority right now.”

Gay Marriage is major priority right now.

“You might actually try making an argument, Pender. How many people does this issue affect? How much does health care affect? You’re not the center of the damn universe.”

The urgency of an issue is not dependent upon how many people it affects. Had you been keeping up with civil rights issues you’d know it’s not that Obama and his administration have merely not done anything yet, far from, they’ve backtracked and many consider the DOJ brief to be a backstabbing nightmare.

To quote one of our allies,

“This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

David C.
June 16th, 2009 | LINK

The problem I see with boycotting the Dems is that it will give the GOP an advantage. Not a good idea, I wouldn’t think. How about we keep what advantage we have, and keep the pressure on? —hb

Well, using a particularly visible event like this to make a point is probably about the right scale of protest. It gets attention and it shows that gay leaders will take notice and will encourage gay people to punish bad behavior like the DoJ DOMA Smelt v. USA brief.

There must be consequences associated with their “bad” behavior or Democrats will continue to take us for granted. This is both a manifestation of pressure and “negative reinforcement” of behavior clearly detrimental to the progress of gay civil rights.

Our response also needs to be tempered, and we should be prepared to reward “good” behavior by supporting Democratic efforts that advance the cause of gay civil rights. We should not be shrill and reactionary as our enemies often are, but we need to be firm and stand together to send the message that we will not long tolerate being abused by those we have supported because they claimed they would support us.

LD
June 18th, 2009 | LINK

JA is getting too much attention. Perhaps he also wears a white robe.

The case of equal rights is clear and not one to be argued over. It’s simple, and some day, when she/he experiences discrimination in her/his perfect life, she/he will realize!!

All for a boycott.

Proudly a Hillary supporter, and a Nader voter!!

Telnt
June 18th, 2009 | LINK

If you can’t keep your promises, you can’t keep my vote.

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