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Signorile: Palm Center Source Backs Bellini Claims on HRC Deal

The Human Rights Campaign sent out a statement last night adamantly denying the claims in Jason Bellini's Daily Beast interview that the group had made a deal with Congressional leaders to delay the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in favor of other items on its agenda, specifically a federal hate crimes bill and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Belkin While Bellini's sources were unnamed, Sirius radio host Michelangelo Signorile has a source on record — Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center (the research institute that focuses on the military and sexuality, located at the University of California, Santa Barbara) — backing up Bellini's claims.

Writes Signorile, who interviewed HRC President Joe Solmonese just yesterday:

I didn't see or know about the Bellini piece when I interviewed Joe (it either had just posted or wasn't up yet), but I did ask him about what Belkin claimed. Belkin was relatively certain in what he told me:

AB: "...Our major national gay rights organizations -- it would be one thing to say nothing, but there is pro-active lobbying on the hill for Congress not to consider [the "don't ask, don't tell"] issue. And so the community has been appalling on this issue.

MS: Have you seen any response from any of those groups, and I guess we're talking about the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, other Washington groups?

AB:...We've heard from so many offices that not only are they not doing anything but they're pro-actively lobbying against consideration of the issue. I feel very confident in saying that.

You may remember that on May 11, I posted a major report by The Palm Center outlining a strategy by which the President could halt discharges of military personnel immediately if he so wished. The Palm Center's "Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory, and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment" provided a blueprint for that action to take place.

Solmonese Signorile notes that yesterday Solmonese suddenly came forward after months of refusal for interview requests "since shortly after Joe Solmonese went into a meeting with the White House weeks ago (after the first complaints of Obama's lagging on gay issues arose) and came out saying to the NY Times that he was 'pleased' and that the White House had a 'plan.'"

While it could be a coincidence, the timing is certainly notable considering The Daily Beast piece went up shortly after Solmonese emerged to speak with the press.

Listen to the Belkin and the Solmonese interview at Signorile's blog The Gist.

And Pam Spaulding notes that last night Solmonese appeared on Hardball, telling Chris Matthews that Obama could halt the discharges. Video, AFTER THE JUMP:

SOLMONESE: There's overturning the policy, which I believe that the administration will do within the course of a year or so, and then there are good hard working people like Dan Choi, an Arab language interpreter, who could be potentially thrown out of the military in the next few weeks. The President has the opportunity to stop that from happening. We've asked him to do that and pressed him to do that and hope that he will.

MATTHEWS: But if he does that by executive order, what is he worried about? Why is he not doing it? Joe?

SOLMONESE: Well...well...we don't know...he may do it and he has the opportunity to do it, and it may be that...I don't know why he wouldn't do it, but with regard to overturning the policy generally...I.mean...I don't think it's the case that he wants to not necessarily upset military leaders, but I think he understands that there is an implementation part of this policy that has to be worked through.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Schumer UPDATE: Jason Bellini said in his original report that New York Senator Chuck Schumer "let slip" to a number of gay leaders that the Human Rights Campaign told him that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is not the White House's priority.

Schumer's spokesman Brian Fallon released this statement: "Senator Schumer has never said the White House didn't consider the repeal of 'Don't ask, Don't tell' a priority, and he never said the Human Rights Campaign struck some quote-unquote deal on this issue. Any rumors to the contrary are flat-out wrong."

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  1. We are going to get nothing accomplished without a unified leadership. If HRC is pulling in one direction, and the grassroots folks in others, we fail to send a solid message as to what we are seeking, much less are guaranteed under the Constitution (thank you very much). A corollary to this is that no large organization such as the HRC should be in that leadership role because of its material investment in being inside the Beltway (not to mention in keeping us from actually having these rights extended to us formally).

    If the claims against the HRC are true -- and it is looking increasingly as though they are -- then it is positively shameful that a handful of DC-insider queers are calling the shots for the rest of us. Stop giving them money, period. Stop volunteering for them. Tell their street volunteers who want you to sign you up to become monthly supporters exactly WHY you are not giving them money, and write letters to Sleezomonese telling him how disgraceful he and his organization is. That is, if this turns out to be true. ;)

    One of the beautiful things about civil rights movements is their grassroots characters - in short, they are quintessentially "democratic" (oh! how I am loathe to use that term after our previous President sullied it so). We need to tell our President and our Congress directly what it is we want, and not have some new money, new popular kid at the playground dictate what is best and right for us. Again, write letters, protest, organize, rally, and scream your lungs out! Let the HRC gals and gays have their furtive jack-off sessions with their "straight" pals in DC - we have actual work to do here.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Jun 5, 2009 12:35:01 PM

  2. We (gay folks) never learn, Bill Clinton looked good and sounded good and we got DADT, Kerry looked good and sounded okay, we got a candidate with less charisma than the corpse from "Weekend at Bernies"

    Obama sounded and looked good. We get-thrown under the bus. Those lobbying in our name are drving the bus but still want us to pay for the gas.

    Hillary was for real. Tough and does not take prisoners. When you follow through on promises then lobbyists don't have jobs. Hillary follows through-she got my write in vote Nov 08. NO regrets

    Posted by: david in iowa | Jun 5, 2009 12:35:01 PM

  3. No small wonder I get such frequent fund raising junk mail from SLDN, $141K?

    Weanwhile, I'd hope that were Harvey alive, WWHMD, he'd be urging gays & lesbians to arm themselves & start using them when necessary.

    Posted by: mike shackleford | Jun 5, 2009 1:32:32 PM

  4. I am with Mike -- we need leadership -- from the street or from the top -- But I ain't seeing it and I am not funding any of these groups until one of them starts leading... Obama is not the problem .. we are the problem.

    We have to have a leader with vision before any of this moves forward -- frankly it can't be bought so all the money in the world won't help.

    Case in point -- Prop 8 -- we spent 48 million funding an unwinable war against a proposition that was constitutional in the long run... why did none of our leaders see this and have a strategy? No vision, no strategy and so until that changes -- my purse is shut!

    Posted by: David B. 2 | Jun 5, 2009 1:52:00 PM

  5. The HRC is more concerned with its Board members getting invitations to all the right parties and summer shares on Fire Island and photo-ops with famous people than it is with fighting for the rank-and-file LGBT community to achieve full civil equality and acceptance in this country. When the HRC started years ago, I was an active donor and I tried to get involved locally here in NYC, but I soon realized that the HRC was an elitist group of snobs with absolutely no interest in anything but their own agendas (which have proved not to be necessarily helpful to the real needs of the LGBT community) and making sure that the "right" people were let in to the inner circle. The HRC is nothing but a vanity project for some very high-minded homos. I stopped giving to them or even caring about them years ago.

    Posted by: mike | Jun 5, 2009 2:06:40 PM

  6. If HRC doesn't deserve your support, there are plenty of other organizations out there (ACLU, Point Foundation) that do practical, hands on good for the gay & lesbian community. Support them instead.

    Posted by: Lewis Payton | Jun 5, 2009 3:02:31 PM

  7. They're just bloated fund-raising party queens

    Kinda good thing, that is so true.

    People always ask me why Log Cabin isn't a more powerful group. I tell them that no decent gay Republican defines themselves by their gay Republican-ness. No, they put on their Armani suits and Hermes ties and they hoist cocktails in a famewhore group with neither gay nor Republican in its name. And how it should be named:


    Posted by: Human Rights Democrat | Jun 5, 2009 6:01:55 PM

  8. Don't donate to HRC. Its nothing but DC insiders backpedaling, dealing and playing games in Washington on your dime. And they are just as bad as congress if not worse because they are working on donations. NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING over and over and over...

    Posted by: chnaz | Jun 6, 2009 2:52:33 AM

  9. Wow! Time to turn the heat on and attack SLDN? What gives and where are you really coming from? Let me take it in. Attack the sole legal and policy organization that has effectively represented our service members with quality legal services for sixteen years? The self serving comments from PJ curiously read like the talking points of a couple other LGBT organizations. Oh, Elaine Donnelly and her 1,000 flag officers who want to keep DADT on the books are really enjoying the posting of PJ, and maybe the White House is too. SLDN puts the heat on White House, SLDN pushes for repeal aggressively, SLDN represents gay service members every day, and now the x LGBT Secret Alliance pushes out this cowardly attack on SLDN? I need a road map. Can we please get back to the substance? What did any of PJ's comments do to help our service members? I fear it has a lot to do with too many big egos in DC and California.

    Posted by: Art | Jun 6, 2009 7:42:32 PM

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