Bombshell from Barney Frank: White House doesn’t want DADT repealed this year

UPDATE: Barney has clarified, again. And this time, he’s calling on the White House to publicly state their support for the legislative repeal of DADT this year.

UPDATE: Barney Frank is trying to back off of his earlier quote, but his now quote is just as damning of the White House.

From Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate:

When I noted that the White House has failed to designate the defense authorization bill over a stand-alone bill as its preferred method for repealing the policy, Frank responded, “That’s because they don’t want it done this year, not because they want it done separately.”

I guess this guy was just kidding a month ago:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1z3_TlYfbQ]

Now our gay leaders have to answer some serious questions. Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign has been saying for almost a year now that the White House had a secret plan to get DADT repealed this year. Let me quote Solmonese 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.”

Now let me quote HRC just a few weeks ago, in response to our blog swarm:

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top defense officials testified, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be repealed.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.

Barney says there’s isn’t.

Lots of others have also contradicted Solmonese, including Chairman Levin, Joe Lieberman, staff on the Hill, SLDN, the Palm Center, and even Barney had previously said the White House was “muddled” on whether to move ahead with DADT repeal. But now we have US Rep. Barney Frank, openly gay and the leader of the gay delegation in the House, stating categorically that the White House isn’t helping get DADT repeal this year because they don’t want it repealed this year.

It’s important to note that Barney has a history of defending the White House on gay issues. For Barney to say publicly that the White House doesn’t want DADT repealed this year is a rather huge deal. It means it’s true. Either that, or that the “secret plan” the White House has for repealing DADT this year is SO secret that they’re only sharing it with Joe Solmonese of HRC, and not with Barney Frank, Joe Lieberman (who is our lead sponsor in the Senate), or Chairman Levin (who’s committee the language needs to go through if we’re to have our best chance at getting it done). That is a laughable premise.

So why did Joe Solmonese state unequivocally only a few weeks ago that DADT would be repealed this year? Why did HRC promise us, just a few weeks ago, that the White House had a clear plan to repeal DADT this year?

And what is HRC’s board doing about this? They were in just in town a short week or so ago, and other than get tickets to tour the White House, what exactly did any of them do to push the White House – or HRC for that matter – on getting DADT (and ENDA and DOMA) done this year?

And then there’s the LGBT Leadership Council of the DNC. They’re a group of big-money gay donors to the DNC. They’re going to be rewarded for their donations with a special conference call the DNC set up for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16th, at 3:00PM EDT with the White House’s point man on gay issues, Brian Bond. It’s not entirely clear what Brian does for a living. Most gay leaders I know don’t ever get the honor of having Brian liaise with them. So perhaps some of the gay donors could ask Brian why the White House isn’t interested in getting DADT repealed this year, after the President promised to do just that in his State of the Union?

And if Brian says the President is committed to getting DADT repealed as soon as possible, then ask him why the White House’s own spokesman, Robert Gibbs, refused to say a few weeks ago that the White House would like to see DADT repealed this year. He was asked the question, twice, by the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld – he’s refused to say it. Here’s Kerry’s rather simple question that Gibb’s squirmed around, twice:

Senator Lieberman is planning to introduce a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal bill next week. Would the president like to see Congress pass repeal this year?

Barney’s quote today only confirms what many of us already knew. That the White House has no intention of getting DADT repealed this year (or passing ENDA, or repealing DOMA). And once next year hits, after the congressional elections, where Democrats are expected to lose a lot of seats, if not the entire House, we can kiss any effort to pass our legislation goodbye for the next many years to come.

Here’s a longer excerpt of Kerry’s story today:

But just the White House has pushed other legislation into the forefront only to back away and watch the congressional fireworks from afar, so it seems to be with ending the military’s gay ban.

As Rep. Barney Frank told me Friday, “I’m disappointed with the administration talking about delaying legislation for a year. But I’m working with Patrick Murphy [the lead sponsor of the House repeal bill] on it and I’m hoping we can push ahead.”

Like many pro-repeal advocates, Frank has consistently pinpointed the National Defense Authorization Act as “the only vehicle” for overturning the ban legislatively. When I noted that the White House has failed to designate the defense authorization bill over a stand-alone bill as its preferred method for repealing the policy, Frank responded, “That’s because they don’t want it done this year, not because they want it done separately.”

If Frank is correct, that would help clarify two things: (1) why administration officials declined to comment on the introduction of Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s new repeal bill — because they actually prefer the defe
nse authorization act over a stand-alone bill; (2) why they haven’t advocated for a repeal measure to be included in this year’s authorization act — because they would prefer the issue recede into the shadows until next year.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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