Barney Frank Says White House ‘Muddled’ on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell';
HRC Insists ‘Road to Repeal’ is Clear

In a new post over at HRC, which for all intents and purposes includes nothing that we haven't heard before regarding their strategy on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and certainly nothing that addresses the confusion and lack of leadership from the top on the issue, the group lays out some "key principles" that will be guiding their work over the next few months.

Dadt How about, as Michelangelo Signorile has suggested on his radio show, an open letter to Obama outlining the LGBT community's concern over the lack of a clear path to repeal?

Or, as the Palm Center's Nathaniel Frank suggested in his Huffington Post piece yesterday, a clear demand to the President that the DADT repeal must appear in the 2011 Department of Defense Authorization bill backed up with some real stakes if it is not.

As Frank said: "One reasonable option would be to publicly tell the President that it will not endorse him for re-election if he does not secure repeal in his first term, a promise that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he believed the President would keep.

Now, even Barney Frank, who earlier this month suggested that the DADT repeal would be on a parallel track timeline with Gates' military "study", has admitted that Obama needs to be pressured to instruct Congress:

"Asked whether President Obama has provided Congress with a clear path on moving forward with repeal, Frank said the White House has been 'muddled about when we should move.' … 'I do hope in the next couple weeks, he’ll make it clear that he wants us to act this year as well legislatively,' he said."

HRC-square-logo The Human Rights Campaign, as the LGBT's most powerful advocate with the most direct line to the White House, needs to make it more clear to the LGBT community and Obama, beyond the backstage meetings that they keep promising us they are having, that they will accept nothing less than repeal this year.

This morning, Signorile posted audio of a $250/month donor to HRC who was pulling out because of the group's inaction on this issue, and says he took calls from many people similarly angry.

HRC, from all reports I've received, is downplaying the effects of the recent blog swarm and criticism against them.

OF course, right now the group is busy preparing for a big GALA weekend in Raleigh with an Art, Restaurant and Bar Crawl, dance party, narrated Segway tour of the city, and Drag Queen Bingo contest.

Let's hope they're also listening.


  1. Trev says

    I’m torn about asking HRC to do the heavy lifting on this. It is not, after all, a tray of martinis, which seems to be the only thing they know how to lift.

    I don’t give them money and I don’t appreciate them speaking on my behalf but if they’re the loudest, strongest voice in Washington (God help us), we should definitely hold their feet to the fire.

  2. David says

    Andy, I’m a Sirius subscriber and tried to call into Mike’s show in SUPPORT of HRC. My call was never put on the air. So please, don’t act like Mike’s show reflects the community. You are above this.

  3. AndrewW says

    I have been raising the question of whether lobbying was effective when the HRC BlogSwarm was announced. The response of and arrogant HRC and the many comments on LGBT-Blogs confirm it is NOT. We should honor that fact by figuring out what IS effective.

    Elected officials position on LGBT issues is non-negotiable. It does us no good to send letters, emails or make calls. The only thing we can express to them is anger or frustration. There minds are made up.

    During our 50 years of struggle/fight we have never changed a politicians mind about LGBT issues. (I spent a lot of money researching that fact). There are only two solutions:

    1. Replace the politician, or
    2. Change the minds of their constituents.

    Harold Ford is a very recent example of a Politician changing his mind. When Ford was in Tennessee (78% religious) he was against same-sex marriage. Now, with Ford in New York (48% religious) he now supports same-sex marriage. HE didn’t change his mind – the polls did.

    I raised the issue of meaningless lobbying because we keep sending people down that ineffective path. They simply end up more frustrated and less likely to participate in our movement. We are literally asking people to commit participation suicide. That must stop.

    The Victory Fund and the efforts of Tim Gill, Jon Stryker and others seeking to replace anti-LGBT politicians is one potential solution. But, it is a difficult proposition UNTIL we change the minds of constituents.

    As a community we spend millions of dollars and we rarely make an honest and objective effort to determine the effectiveness of tactics, ideas and strategies. The one benefit of the BlogSwarm may be a better understanding of the effectiveness of HRC (or lack thereof).

    During the last year I have been encouraging accountability and I have been seeking ideas to WIN. A tremendous amount of money has been spent on research and the development of new ideas – each with the requirement of proving their effectiveness.

    I would invite everyone to ask a simple question of any non-profit advocacy group, activist group or community leader: How many Americans support the full equality of LGBT persons? See if they know the answer to THAT question.

    I have learned the answer to that question and it is encouraging. A strategy is being created to finally project HOW and WHEN we will achieve our full equality. Everyone will be able to participate/contribute. The strategy is made up of 4 new ideas and 7 national media campaigns. For the first time in the history of our movement, it ALL adds up to victory. The “math” works.

    The challenge we face will be our ability to be completely honest and objective about the effectiveness of ALL ideas/tactics. We will not re-ignite a real, sustainable movement until we let go of “perceived” benefits and focus ONLY on “verifiable” benefits. I hope we can.

    Our movement will not have the required direction, unity or participation it needs, until we can see the evidence that it will lead to victory. We NEED to see HOW and WHEN we will WIN. “One of these days” and “keep trying” are simply not good enough.

  4. JeffRob says

    Barney Frank: “I do hope in the next couple weeks, he’ll make it clear that he wants us to act this year as well legislatively”

    Really?!? Are we really still at the point that you’re “hoping” the president “makes it clear” he “wants” you to act? Hasn’t he done that 10 times already?


  5. jmdrwac says

    The Westboro Baptist Church has done more to help us secure equal rights than the HRC ever will. HRC is skilled at fund-raising and absolutely nothing else.

  6. says

    Andrew’s refusal to acknowledge that lobbying at the local, state, and federal level, has been THE single most successful strategy leading to the advances we’ve made [just as it played a major role in the black civil rights movement] is simply more evidence that they never should have done his brain surgery and connected his colostomy bag at the same time.

    Not only do those crossed connections prevent him from seeing the direct benefits of directly lobbying politicans which has resulted in everything from Bill Clinton issuing an Executive Order reversing Eishenhower’s half-century old ban on gay federal employees [Andy would say it wasn’t gays David Mixner, Roberta Achtenberg, et al., plus HRC, NGLTF, et al., lobbying Clinton but because Oscar Wilde appeared to him in a burning bush]…to TWICE stopping bills in Congress that sought to ban marriage equality through CONSTITUTIONAL amendment [this time it was only Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas and THEIR burning bushes]…to passage of the hate crimes bill [Judy Shepard? Nevuh heard of her!], but also that HIS OWN formula….convince everyone to accept us…is nothing but LOBBYING politicians’ constituencies so that, back to square one, the POLITICIANS will CHANGE THE LAWS.

    By his shit-for-brains analysis, in addition to the ghosts of gays past, we have no one but Will & Grace & Elton to thank for those advances. The legally married in Massachusetts? Give old Will a call, and ask him to say hi to Jack and Karen. Wait! They’re fictional characters…just like Little Andy’s fantasy that legal change happens by some kind of osmosis. He’s not alone in his self-delusion, of course. Many in California still believe that Prop H8TE would have been defeated if we’d just done a better job getting the public to “know” us. Problem is, there’s that little old statistical fact that 49% of those who voted FOR Prop H8TE DID know someone gay…in their real lives and not just some poster person on a TV screen.

    He promises SEVEN magical “national media campaigns, but the MAJORITY of Americans ALREADY support every gay issue but full marriage equality. They support ENDA and ending DADT, etc.

    From high atop his own Mt. Sinai, [turn left at Fire Island and follow the yellow brick road] he booms:

    “I have learned the answer to that question and it is encouraging. A strategy is being created to finally project HOW and WHEN we will achieve our full equality.”

    Doesn’t that sound like one of those late-night infomercials promising to cure all ills if you’ll only start eating, say, pop beads? Andy is high atop Mt. Sinai, he’s HIGH on Mt. Sinai.

    “Everyone will be able to participate/contribute.”

    But only one free aluminum foil hat per gay. Operators are standing by.

  7. Ben says

    Interesting that Frank now says the President needs to be pressured. For months, Frank has bristled and gotten very huffy (esp. on Michaelangelo’s show) whenever activists have demonstrated and demanded action: he has treated angry gay people as basically naive and useless because they don’t understand all of the tricky ins and outs of legislating like he does. Looks like we were right all along.

  8. TANK says

    Barney Frank is not an lgbt activist. He is a politician first and foremost, and I don’t believe he ever identified as anything more. He is not to be trusted when it comes to lgbt issues…or, really, any. No politician is. If he acts in a way supportive of activists who wish to pressure Obama and congress, very good, but realize that the angle isn’t lgbt equality for him. That will forever be a secondary consideration; just like any particular issue is a secondary consideration for any politician who cares about power and prestige first and foremost.

    As to lobbying, I don’t see it working on DADT. Lobbying is a lot like god’s will in this case–there’s no way to confirm that it’s worked or it hasn’t. If DADT is repealed or a stop loss is issued, they can take credit; if nothing happens, they can always say that more lobbying is needed as it’s about to. Given that I don’t have any faith, I’m not about to start with the HRC.

  9. AndrewW says

    Michael is an advocate for lobbying, yet he cannot provide a single example of lobbying changing a US Senators mind.

    I think we need to question the motives of all the people making money in this so-called LGBT Movement – including Michael Bedwell. Their jobs are more important than our equality.

  10. says

    There’s no empirical way to demonstrate that ANYTHING works unless it’s studied, in this case, “What influenced you, Mr. Congressperson, to vote the way you did?”

    In the absence of such studies, nevertheless, it is common sense that, as more predisposed to civil rights issues that Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and others might have been, they were LED to greater understanding and action by being “lobbied” by LGBTs and our allies. Clinton has admitted that in relation to the military ban on gays, specifically about discussions he had in 1991 with David Mixner and others. That he eventually failed [except to ban “asking”], is beside the point.

    In fact, sometimes, if approached the right way, even those who viscerally believe that “civil rights” should be primarily reserved for straight, white men, can be “lobbied” to act in our behalf.

    Despite the hagiagraphy of the movie “Milk,” historians agree that the single most influential event in the defeat of the Briggs Initiative to ban gay teachers in California was conservative icon Ronald Reagan coming out against it after Mixner and an associate convinced him that it could be abused. Support for Briggs dropped some 20 points in the two weeks after Reagan publicly opposed it.

    I know for a fact [because a special assistant to Pres. Carter told me] that the man who went to his grave our strongest straight ally in Congress, Ted Kennedy, once opposed gay teachers himself but evolved to aggressively supporting protections for gays in ALL professions through ENDA. Are we to believe it was only because St. John Cantius, the patron saint of teachers, appeared to Catholic Kennedy in a dream and said, “And, by the way, Teddy, my son, I was gayer than the Pope in a white dress,” that changed his mind?

    Would Deputy Secty, of Defense Graham Claytor, Jr., have stopped the practice of denying honorable discharges to gays in 1981 [even as he continued the ban itself] if he had not been lobbied by someone?

    Would Gen. Shalikashvili have evolved from years of defending DADT after being the first Chair of the Joint Chiefs to implement it to calling for its repeal “someday” three years ago to calling for its IMMEDIATE repeal two weeks ago had he not been lobbied by gay and nongay vets and active duty personnel?

    Yes, some ears will always be too deaf [or self-serving of their political ambitions] to listen [Class, can you say “John McCain”?] but the progress we have made is directly attributable to those who’ve evolved because they were “lobbied.”

  11. says

    Nothing proves the depths of retardation and ruthlessness that Andrew will crawl to than to assert that I am somehow “making money in this so-called LGBT movement.”

    Someone must be stealing all those paychecks from my mailbox from whatever gay org he imagines I work for. Would that it were true. I pay all the expenses for out of my own recently-laid-off-from-a-firm-unrelated-to-my-advocacy pocket. I pay all my own expenses to travel to DC for various DADT repeal-related events. I’ve paid out of my own pocket for various DADT repeal-related advertising.

    Mary, I’m LOSING money on my advocacy, not making it.

    Could you stoop any lower?

  12. says

    “I think we need to question the motives of all the people making money in this so-called LGBT Movement – including Michael Bedwell. Their jobs are more important than our equality.”

    I lobby and I don’t have a job that pays me to do it. Further, I bet I know from my relations on the inside through Grassroots lobbying more about what’s really going on with DADT than you or a lot of these Bloggers. If they had asked me , I would have gladly given them some info to help them with strategy, they didn’t. No biggie, who am I?

    Listen, no one speaks for the LGBT community, we all do. We all have to lobby locally which has an effect nationally. Is that the only way? Nope. But, it’s probably way more effective than a monthly tithe to Gay Inc..

    I was at my state party’s meeting with one of our congresswomen last night. 12 of us in a room and I was the only Gay one. Guess who’s getting a private meeting to talk to her about how important it is to her getting re-elected to help us so that I can ask my community to help her? I’m no overpaid owner of my own personal tux. I’m just a Gay Black guy who decided I could no longer Bitch and complain if I wasn’t doing my part.

    There are other ways as well such as the really cool Queer Rising action that just took place. There’s people who write letters and tell their neighbors about our issuess. This is a multi-front war and all methods nust be used. I do, however, think that the champagne and photo op route is a wash. Those organizations that continue to operate with that outmoded set of battle plans will soon realize that they are storming a beach with no air cover.

    I constantly tell the big whigs that Gay Inc. is dying and they are happy to hear it because of the arrogance that they exhibit when they come into their offices. I was personally told by a major congressional; caucus that they hated meeting with lobbyists from Gay Inc. because a roomful of arrogant white guys would show and ask what they were going to do for the Gay community. They never saw women or people of color, so, they ignore them.

    Get your own projects going locally, IMHO.

    Gay Inc. is dead. Long live the real people.

  13. walter says

    hrc is the gay nero they fiddle we burn. so glad to see they are organizing a pub crawl
    and party keep those funds coming inthey may actually have to work for a would be better spent on supporting canidates with positive stands on LGBT rights

  14. Michael says

    It would be sadistically pleasing to find out how many of those working at the HRC are making salary-wise.

    I just don’t think that a corporation (and don’t think for a moment that HRC is NOT a corp.) can represent citizens if doing so would impact their paycheck.

    One key fact to know is that a not-for-profit or non-profit still have to make money to pay people and, at the end of the day, that is what it’s all about. Doing otherwise would put the HRC firmly in the role of a charity.

    I also don’t think that the white man (which I am) should be representing anyone about anything considering our long history of abusing everyone else.

  15. says

    @Michael: I hope I didn’t come off like white men are the Devil. I do want to point out that LGBT orgs must be aware of how it looks when boards are all white men. Women notice it, people of color notice it AND straight people notice it.

    Diversity is easily achieved if there is support for it at the top. I became Chair of my org and immediately expanded my board to include Women, the disabled, Transgener and straight allies. The one person who liked things the old way resigned within two months. Good riddance.

    We have to work together, but, no one needs to be ashamed of who they are. White people should be aware of the past, but, not made to feel guilty about it. I don’t know any white guys who have lynched anyone myself, btw. There’s loads of real racism in the LGBT world (alond with every other ism), we just need to work on making it better so that we can move forward.

    Btw, yeah, the minute they become a charity, they’ll lose their appetite for doing anything.

  16. AndrewW says

    Michael Bedwell makes a living off of the LGBT Movement. Maybe that’s good, maybe it isn’t – he doesn’t publish any information about his charity’s income or expenses.

    But, that is not the point. The point is we have NO evidence that lobbying has created any verifiable results. After hundreds of millions that should be EASY, not impossible. To suggest it is working – without evidence – is why our movement is suffering.

    Sorry, Michale – we’ll need some evidence. real, verifiable evidence.