Tue Feb 19, 2013, 03:40 PM
dsc (44,950 posts)
An important article about DADT
Last week, 37 senators signed a letter calling on President Obama to sign an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination by federal contractors. It’s the kind of step the president has been increasingly considering or deploying in the face of Congressional gridlock (and the absence of reelection concerns). As he weighs how to balance his Congressional leverage and his executive authority to move his agenda forward, Obama's experience with past gay rights battles is instructive—just not in the way that he usually prefers to suggest.
Last month Obama told this magazine that his slow, methodical plan to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) had worked. The proof, he said, was that “not only did we get the law passed, but it's caused almost no controversy.” The president defended his decision not to stop the firings by executive order with the argument that he needed time to build Pentagon buy-in. Had he “just moved ahead with an executive order, there would have been a huge blowback that might have set back the cause for a long time.” Obama first set up this revisionist narrative back in 2010, on the day he proudly signed repeal of the gay ban into law. He told The Advocate that “things don’t always go according to your plans” in Washington, “and so when they do,” it can be “pleasantly surprising.”
Yet perhaps no one was more surprised that DADT ended in 2010 than the president himself. As a new academic volume (a special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality edited by former military officers) shows, ending the ban was not the White House plan at all for 2010. Obama’s plan, such as it was, was to push repeal off until 2011, when it was unlikely to have passed Congress. Indeed, the real story of what happened in the effort to pass the most important (and only the second ever) piece of pro-gay federal legislation ever is not as flattering to Obama as his own narrative. The real lesson it provides is that it's often incumbent on activists to force political leaders to get things done.
Six weeks into Obama’s first term, gay rights advocates were growing skeptical that the White House had a viable plan to end DADT. Responding to the impatience, a White House spokesperson said the president had “begun consulting closely” with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the uniformed leadership about ending DADT. Yet shortly afterwards, Gates contradicted the statement, saying talks with the administration had “really not progressed very far” and that “the President and I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plates right now, and let’s push that one down the road a little bit.” A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that Gates “has had one brief conversation with the President about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
While many in the LGBT community wrung their hands wondering when the president would make repeal a real priority, others already knew—and appear to have approved—the timeline. Even before Obama was inaugurated, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with leaders from the major LGBT organizations and, according to National Journal’s Marc Ambinder, agreed that DADT would not move until after hate crimes legislation and a federal employment non-discrimination bill. Joe Solmonese, then the leader of the most powerful of these, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said in an August 2009 interview that he saw “a road map of six-month windows: the hate crimes bill, then the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, then don’t ask, don’t tell.”
end of quote much more at link
This is a important article because of what it suggests about the need for an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors since ENDA doesn't have a Pope's prayer of passing. It is also important because the narrative here among may Obama supporters is of an ungrateful and borderline treasonous group of gay supporters. This article suggests those gay supporters were right.
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