Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) joins Nathaniel Frank from the Palm Center, Senator Carl Levin, and House and Senate staffers in disagreeing with the Human Rights Campaign on that “clear path,” as HRC put it two days ago, that the administration has set for moving ahead on DADT this year.
Barney Frank has refused to criticize Obama on gay rights, from the beginning. He even defended the hideous DOMA incest/pedophilia brief (after first criticizing it). Barney does Obama’s bidding. So when Barney comes out and says that the administration is “muddled” on DADT, and that the President needs to do something, that means things are in trouble.
From the DC Agenda last night:
Asked whether President Obama has provided Congress with a clear path on moving forward with repeal, Frank said the White House has been “muddled about when we should move.”
“I do hope in the next couple weeks, he’ll make it clear that he wants us to act this year as well legislatively,” he said.
Let me quote HRC from last May:
The White House, aware of the discontent, invited leaders of some prominent gay rights organizations to meet Monday with top officials, including Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s deputy chief of staff, to plot legislative strategy on the hate crimes bill as well as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Among those attending was Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who said afterward that while the gay rights agenda might not be “unfolding exactly as we thought,” he was pleased.
“They have a vision,” Mr. Solmonese said. “They have a plan.”
We have been lobbying the White House relentlessly, and we’ve seen more movement in recent weeks than in the previous 16 years. Our nation’s top defense officials testified, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed. That did not happen in a vacuum.
These events are just the start. There is a clear path to repeal, and that’s the one we’re on.
Then there’s Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and House and Senate aides, speaking out just last week – they don’t agree with HRC about there being a clear path forward:
House and Senate aides praised Obama, Mullen and Gates but say the administration’s point man in the Senate, Jim Messina, hasn’t followed up with a detailed plan for how to proceed, leading to some confusion.
“We need a clear path forward,” a senior House Democratic aide said.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he’s ready to move ahead but needs to hear from Gates about what the Pentagon thinks is the best way to go — a full repeal or less-far-reaching legislation imposing a moratorium on dismissing anyone accused of violating the policy.
And Nathaniel Frank of the Palm Center, one of the three groups devoted to overturning the ban, wrote yesterday that DADT repeal was “in grave danger”:
[D]espite the military’s move to relax and soon do away with “don’t ask, don’t tell,” repeal in Congress is in grave peril.
It’s also not helping that the gay community has too often given the President a pass on leading on this issue. Yes, Congress has to pass repeal to get this law off the books, but that process should begin with Obama telling the Pentagon to put repeal in the Authorization bill. And for that to happen, gay groups will need to let the White House know that the status quo is not acceptable. Bloggers this week called for the President to take the lead, but also focused their attention on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the most powerful gay rights group in the world, which has been accused of championing repeal publicly, while privately assuring the White House that it can continue to go slow. Some feel that HRC would rather fundraise for several years on the illusion of momentum than actually help to achieve repeal. If HRC wants to disabuse the community of that suspicion, it will need to ensure that its prized access to Washington power is used to have a real impact, rather than to enjoy that access for its own sake. One reasonable option would be to publicly tell the President that it will not endorse him for re-election if he does not secure repeal in his first term, a promise that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he believed the President would keep.
Professed proponents of repeal keep muttering that we will get repeal this year, without saying how. “There is a clear path to repeal,” said an HRC spokesman this week, “and that’s the one we’re on.” Many of us would like to know what that path is if it does not include demanding the President put it in the base bill.
So now Barney Frank, Nathaniel Frank at the Palm Center, Carl Levin, and House and Senate staffers all agree that the path forward is anything but clear. HRC disagrees. Who do you think is telling the gay community the truth, and who do you think is simply parroting White House talking points in an effort to protect the President at the expense of the community?
UPDATE: Andy Towle weighs in.