Why don’t we have the votes? This is bullshit. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal polls at 70%. It’s at 60% with Republicans. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs are now for it. As are Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. So what’s the problem?
I’ll tell you what the problem is. Political homophobia on the part of the White House and Democrats in Congress. We got them elected, we gave them control of the White House and Congress, in exchange for their promise to repeal DADT, repeal DOMA and pass ENDA. We’ve now given them polls showing the American people, even Republicans, overwhelmingly in support of repeal. The Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders agree with us. And we even have political cover from Cheney and Powell. The only excuse for the Democrats in Congress to refuse to repeal DADT, and the White House refusing to even say that they want it repealed this year, is political homophobia.
Our civil rights give the White House and Democrats in Congress the creeps. They think that we’re a political liability, regardless of what the polls say, regardless of what they promised us in exchange for our money and our votes. We’re marginally acceptable when it comes time for a cocktail party, or maybe a band in the parade, but when it comes to keeping their promises on DADT, ENDA and DOMA, we are persona non grata in the White House and the Congress. No room at the Democratic inn.
Joe and I have been warning for a year now that this day was coming. That the Democrats were going soft on their support for us, and that our civil rights battles in Congress would suffer as a result. Some, like HRC, claimed that everything was on track, and that the White House in particular had a great plan for moving forward, and was gung-ho on doing so.
And now we know that this was untrue. Barney Frank complained just last week that the White House message on DADT has been “muddled.” Senator Levin said he was still waiting on direction from the administration on how to proceed. Staffers in the House and Senate said the White House wasn’t leading. And SLDN said that if there is a plan, like HRC claims, they’d love to see it.
As a result, the legislative effort in Congress gets messier by the day, while the clock is ticking. Charlie Cook, a widely respected poll watcher, says he can’t imagine a way that Democrats hold the House in November. And if we lose the House, we won’t see DADT, DOMA or ENDA for years to come. Remember the last time we lost the House. It took 14 years to get it back. That puts us around 2024. How old will you be then? And of course, don’t get your hopes up for 2024 because, after all, we’ll need a Democratic president or it won’t matter what the Congress does. And even then, we’ve all seen the profile in courage that is a Democratic president and Congress when our lead groups don’t hold them responsible.
When will the White House show leadership? When will the Congress? When will HRC?
I think it’s time Andy Tobias over at the DNC, and the entire DNC LGBT caucus, went public and explained to our community how they can claim time and again that the Democratic party isn’t screwing over the gay community. Where is DADT, Andy? Where is DOMA? Where is ENDA? Yes, we got a gay ambassador. But George Bush appointed one too, so you don’t get our thanks for doing what Bush (and Clinton) already did. And yes, the President signed the hate crimes bill. That was great. Of course, he didn’t lift a finger to get it passed, since it passed the previous Congress and even survived a GOP filibuster, so it’s hard to give him credit for the bill’s passage. What the President does have a say in is leading on DADT (and on ENDA and DOMA). Will the President include the repeal of DADT in the DOD budget transmittals being sent to Congress over the next few months, Andy? SLDN and Servicemembers United have asked him to. If he’s really for the repeal, why won’t he ask Congress officially for it?
Will the White House come out right now and say that it wants DADT repealed THIS YEAR? Will it, Andy? Cuz when Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs to say just that last week, that the White House wanted Congress to repeal DADT this year, Gibbs got tongue-tied – twice. Not very fierce, Andy.
Will the White House actually use up some political capital to get the votes we need on DADT, ENDA and DOMA, Andy? Or will you continue to ask our community to fund the Democratic party with the empty promise that maybe we’ll get our rights some time in 2024? Hell, even HRC was only willing to wait until 2017.
As an aside, I seem to recall that some gay people at the DNC were laughing at us, behind the scenes, for even asking that DOMA be repealed. How could we be so naive, they suggested, as to think we could get DOMA repealed any time soon? Perhaps we are naive, Andy. We actually believed the President when he promised to get DADT and DOMA repealed, and ENDA passed, in exchange for our votes. Silly us, to trust that the Democratic party would keep it promises at some point during our lifetimes.
UPDATE: Kerry Eleveld has more from Levin. It sounds to me like Levin is making two mistakes. First, he’s making the Obama mistake of assuming that if you don’t have the votes when you start, you won’t be able to get the votes by the time you finish. We could get the votes if the White House actually got of its ass, and HRC actually made them. Second mistake, Levin seems to be suggesting that the moratorium is only until the DOD study is done. Well, the DOD study isn’t supposed to be done until New Years. That means DADT repeal won’t happen until the next Congress – that would be the Congress that a growing number of people are expecting will have the Republicans running the House. Under that scenario, we won’t have DADT next year, or the year after that, or the year after that…