So there never was a White House plan to repeal DADT this year

We all thought the campaign to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell got a major jump start during the State of the Union when President Obama said:

This year — 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. It’s the right thing to do.

We were wrong.

The deal was already done — last December — according to Kerry Eleveld’s latest revelation:

A second source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the White House was partially in a bind based on an agreement White House officials had made with Defense Department officials earlier this year to let the Pentagon’s working group study reach completion before pushing for a repeal vote.

The source, who had knowledge of the meeting, said discussions around “the process” began in December and were finalized in January, when prospects for the administration’s main agenda items, such as health care reform, were still looking grim.

The White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this article.

So. the deal was done in December. It all makes sense now.

That’s why White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina told advocates (but not SLDN) on February 1, five days after the State of the Union, that there wouldn’t be a repeal this year.

That’s why Secretary Gates stated on March 25th that he didn’t want legislation this year — and said, “I would tell you that my impression is that the president is very comfortable with the process that we’ve laid out.”

That’s why, as SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis noted, Obama administration officials, including Congressional liaisons from the Pentagon, were “urging some Members of Congress to avoid a vote on repeal this year.”

That’s why Secretary Gates felt no compunction about sending a letter to Rep. Ike Skelton, the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, on April 30th stating in “the strongest possible terms” that he didn’t want a legislative repeal this year. And, that’s why the White House never responded to rebut, amend or correct what Gates wrote.

That’s why Robert Gibbs has been so obtuse and confusing whenever he is asked about DADT.

It all makes sense now. The deal was done in December. We were duped into thinking Obama meant what he said in the State of the Union. But, every indicator since then has been to the contrary. The White House is not working towards a repeal this year. If anything, they’ve undermined it.

All is not lost. SLDN, Servicemembers United and other groups are working with allies on the Hill, led Senator Levin and Rep. Murphy, to get the repeal done this year. But, it’s not going to be easy. The action starts this week when the House Armed Services marks up the Department of Defense Authorization. That Senate Armed Services Committee does its markup next week.

It’s hard to pass legislation in Congress when the President doesn’t really want it — and the President and the Congress are in the same party. But, it can happen. If you haven’t called your member of Congress, do it: 202-224-3121. Even if they’re not on one of the committees of jurisdiction, it will help. And, if you live in Virginia, call Jim Webb today.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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