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Obama’s “repeal DADT this year” pledge now seems disingenuous

Timothy Kincaid

April 22nd, 2010

Some members of the gay community may wonder why it is that Get Equality and other activists are not content to rely on President Obama’s pledge – as announced in the State of the Union Address – to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by the end of the year. Some may question the wisdom of aggressively challenging the administration instead of allowing the military review process to dictate the timing.

The answer may be that these activists rightly recognize that this President has little to no intention of ending DADT this year, and probably never has.

On January 27, 2010, President Obama addressed the

Abroad, America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. [emphasis added]

Four days later, on February 1, the White House met with national gay leaders. And the promise had lost a lot of it’s renewal in that short time. (The Advocate)

Yet just days after the January 27 speech, White House officials convened a meeting on February 1 with LGBT advocates in which they said the policy would not be included in the president’s recommendations for this year’s Department of Defense authorization bill, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.

“It was a definitive shut-down from [Jim] Messina,” said a source, who was present at the meeting and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, referring to the White House deputy chief of staff. “He said it would not be going into the president’s Defense authorization budget proposal.” The news was a blow to activists since the Defense funding bill is the best legislative vehicle for including a measure to overturn the policy. “It almost seemed like the bar on the hurdle got raised two or three times higher,” said the source.

Strategically, including the change in the military defense budget is the safest and easiest way for the law to change. Once incorporated by committee, it would require every Republican Senator plus one third of the Democratic Senators to remove it from the bill, a rather unlikely scenario.

The President is a powerful ally and when it comes reelection time it can be a tremendous help if he thinks you are in line with his wishes. If the President want the change it in the budget, it will go into the budget.

From all evidence, he does not.

But more frustrating than the knowledge that this president has played us for the fool, is the knowledge that some national gay groups were complicit in the deceit. If this report is true, the Human Rights Campaign lied about the administration’s intentions in order to give the President cover – and they appear to be continuing to do so.

Rushing to refute the Advocate’s story was Robert Raben, a paid strategist for the Human Rights Campaign.

Raben said Messina relayed that advisers were still discussing different options with the president. He added that the main area of focus for the meeting was the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that would be taking place the next day with Defense secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chair Admiral Mike Mullen.

And then he promptly changed the subject.

“It’s even more wrenching in the immigration context,” he said. “The president gave that a line the State of the Union too. It’s April 22, where’s the bill?”

Other sources are saying that the administration was less “shutting down” than it was “vague” and “non-committal” in the meeting. But whether dismissive or vague, it clearly was a different message than the one announced by the President in his public speech four days earlier. And, from my perspective, it has stayed so ever since.

It is rapidly becoming my impression that this President has no intention on repealing DADT, or at least not if it requires even the slightest expenditure of political capital. In fact, while his public position is supportive, his administration is fighting tooth and toenail to keep the ban on open service in place. I think that Obama sees the potential difficulties in dealing with some annoyed military personnel as having greater importance than the promise that “you should be treated no different than anyone else.”

And it is rapidly becoming my impression that those who represent themselves as our community’s leadership in Washington, DC, and so enjoying being part of the party in power that they are placing their own access and the agenda of the Democratic Party ahead of the reasons we entrust them with our voice and support their organizations.

But while President Barack Obama said many things in his State of the Union Address that appear calculated in hindsight and suggest either a lack of integrity or a lack of commitment, the words he spoke just a few paragraphs after his pledge to end DADT ring ever more true:

No wonder there’s so much cynicism out there.

No wonder there’s so much disappointment.

Comments

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David
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Obama is a not so closeted Republican who ran as a Democrat.

From the moment he stepped on stage with “ex-gay” leaders, it was clear Obama did not and would not support equality for GLBTQ people.

John
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

I sent the following email to the White House. I encourage others to directly contact the President and express their displeasure.

Dear Mr. President,

I am deeply saddened to find out today that 5 days after your solemn pledge in the State of the Union to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “this year,” that you had Mr. Messina meet with various GLBT groups and tell them that you would make no effort to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell this year, and that you were specifically pressuring Congress not to put repeal in the Defense Authorization Bill.

The sting of this betrayal will be felt by me and so many other Americans who continue to work for a day when all Americans will be treated equally and with respect, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans.

It deeply saddens me to discover that you would have so little respect for gay Americans as to make that solemn pledge and then go back on it 5 days later.

There was a time that I really believed that “Yes We Can” with this Adminstration. Unfortunately, your Administration’s very clear response to me and all LGBT Americans is “NO WE WON’T.” I will keep that in mind in 2010 and in 2012.

Frijondi
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Here’s a quote from Obama’s speech in Cairo last year:

“The sixth issue — the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights. (Applause.) I know –- I know — and you can tell from this audience, that there is a healthy debate about this issue.”

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09

He then proceeds to make some nice-sounding, general remarks about how important it is for women to have the opportunity to reach their full potential; he also makes a number of (in my view) overly defensive statements about his respect for women who “choose to live their lives in traditional roles.” (It’s their choice! They choose their choice!)

No matter how often he says “I-support-opportunities-for-women-and-believe-they-can-contribute-as-much-to-society-as-men-especially-when-they-choose-their-choice,” it doesn’t undo the message contained in that opening line: not only are women’s rights a legitimate subject of debate, it’s healthy to debate them, sort of like debating the usefulness of carbon offsets.

Funny thing, he devotes quite a bit of space in this speech to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet somehow manages to avoid suggesting that the human rights of either group could or should be treated like an intellectual football. But, as is so often the case, it’s different when it’s only women being talked about. (Quite a few men, and a surprising number of women, have difficulty seeing women as people — just regular people, with standard-issue rights and responsibilities.)

Obama has been called tone-deaf on the subject of gay rights. He is also apparently tone-deaf on the subject of women’s rights. That’s a serious problem — if he cannot see that women’s rights are, in fact, just plain old standard human rights, not a special option you can order to show how refined and civilized you are, I don’t think there’s much hope he’s suddenly going to realize that gay rights are also human rights.

I’ve sung in enough choirs to know that even a tone-deaf person can learn to sing on pitch if they work at it. I don’t have the impression Obama’s making much of an effort.

mike/
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

the end of the year is December 31, 2010!

the midterm elections are November 2, 2010!

there are 59 days between the two.

plenty of time to pass the repeal of DADT…

and enough time afterward for Obama & his cohort to say, “See. We did it!”

this is how Obama works; this is how Obama ALWAYS worked; he was and continues to be a snake in the grass whose #1 priority is Obama;

after working to help get him elected in Illinois, i realized he was all talk; he continues to be all talk; friends have been waiting for me to say, “I told you so.”

i don’t need to; they know it already…

Burr
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

It’s absurd that Obama has no problem passing completely unrelated crap like hate crimes legislation in a defense bill, but not something that DIRECTLY APPLIES TO THE MILITARY..

Bullcrap. F’ing bullcrap.

Sam
April 22nd, 2010 | LINK

*sigh*

Even as I watched the President, on TV, say those words; “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are”, I was clearly seeing how he spoke like a typical politician. He was not saying that he would work to get DADT *repealed* this year. No, he said he would work on it *during* this year. A bit. Naturally, anything counts towards that.

Ben in Oakland
April 23rd, 2010 | LINK

Seems disingenuous?

Like Naggie, Rick lardbut, and a host of others, i’m sure he has lots of “gay friends” whom he loves…

in very disingenuous fashion.

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