Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate has obtained a White House email to gay organizations participating in today’s high-level DADT summit at the White House. The summit was clearly called as part of the White House’s larger “charm offensive” to woo the left pre next week’s elections.
In the email, the White House liaison to the gay community, Brian Bond, outright threatened our key national organizations that if any of them dare mention the DADT court cases – the ones the Obama administration keeps defending and appealing, even though they don’t have to – the White House will immediately end the meeting.
I am speechless.
It’s one thing for the White House to ask participants to keep the meeting to how to pass the legislation during the lame duck session – though I’m not sure such a request is valid, why shouldn’t our leaders take the opportunity to ask the legal counsel why it’s acting like Bull Connor? – but it’s quite another to outright threaten our national organizations, and issue them ultimatums like they’re children (battered children, at that).
Now, you might ask, isn’t it true that parties to a court case can’t talk about that case unless their lawyers are present. Yes it is. And the only reason this might pose a problem is because the White House invited their legal counsel to a legislative strategy meeting, which makes no sense whatsoever. The legislation is written, it’s already passed the House and a Senate committee. Why does legal counsel have to be present at a meeting about how to get 60 votes in the Senate during the lame duck? Unless legal counsel was invited in order to preclude a discussion of the court cases. (They also could have not invited LCR or Alex Nicholson, who are parties to one of the cases, and invited Jarrod (who also works with Alex) instead.) Or… tell LCR and Alex that they can bring their lawyers too. And finally, they could structure the discussion so they weren’t discussing the case in question, but rather, the overall WH strategy on gay legislation. They had a lots of options, but as usual, they went with the nasty one.
Nothing better illustrates the hubris the White House brings to its relations with its allies. Our civil rights representatives are invited to a key meeting on DADT, as part of the overall White House “charm offensive” to win back the base before the elections, and the White House outright threatens our leaders.
Perhaps it’s time our leaders started threatening the White House.
The Advocate has obtained a copy of an email sent from Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the de facto LGBT liaison, to the meeting’s participants, who include: Allison Herwitt and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign; Shane Larson of the Stonewall Democrats; Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress; Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans; Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United; Nathaniel Frank, DADT expert formerly of the Palm Center; Jim Kessler of the Third Way.
[White House gay liaison Brian] Bond writes [in his email to the groups]:
“Obviously this meeting has gotten out. We are expecting the content of the conversation today to be off the record and to help us figure out how to move forward with the lame duck session.
Also as previously mentioned, there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting. The focus is repeal and the lame duck session. This is also a non-partisan meeting where we want everyone’s help.”