As we painfully learned last year during health care reform, nothing happens in Congress unless the President leads. And when the President doesn't lead, disaster is guaranteed.
Whatever HRC has been telling the White House about DADT, it clearly isn't working. In spite of the President's positive comments during the State of the Union, no one knows where President Obama stands on repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" this year. All the while, unnamed administration officials are telling the media that it could be years before repeal finally happens. The White House clearly didn't get HRC's message, and as a result, we are losing this historic momentum.
Why are we focusing on HRC? Because HRC is our community's largest, best-funded gay rights organization in Washington, and they carry the most sway with the White House. In fact, HRC often boasts about their close working relationship with the White House. HRC's President, Joe Solmonese, is so close to the White House that he gave the President political cover during the uproar over the administration's brief in support of DOMA. It's time HRC, and our entire community, got something in return for everything we have done for this President, this Congress, and the entire Democratic party.
Unfortunately, we've reached a point with the Obama administration where allies have to publicly demand action, or promises are never kept. Just last week, the AFL-CIO was forced to send an action alert to its members, targeting the White House. If it's good enough for the unions, it's good enough for us.
We truly believe that if HRC were to openly call on the White House to get DADT repealed this year, it would happen. Mostly because Democrats are rightly worried about the gay vote (and the support of our straight allies) months before a critical congressional election.
It's been a long first year of the Obama presidency. While our community made some gains in the past 13 months, there has been no progress whatsoever on the President's top three commitments to the LGBT community: to repeal DADT and DOMA; and to pass ENDA. In fact, we've seen backward movement, as the President has continued to defend DADT and DOMA in the courts — even though he didn't have to — going so far as to invoke incest and pedophilia. What's more, we've been told to expect no progress on DOMA until the second term of the Obama presidency, if there is one, and if we still control the Congress. And ENDA, which we had been assured would pass last year, is now nowhere to be found. If DADT is not repealed this year, it's not clear if any of the President's top three promises to our community will be kept before he faces what might be a difficult reelection.
Why not just pass the repeal next year? Because Democrats are already having enough problems passing legislation, next year we're expected to have even fewer Democrats in the House and Senate, and there's talk in town as to whether the Democrats will even control the congress after the elections this fall. We saw the damage that was caused by the loss of one single Senate seat in Massachusetts. Democrats panicked. They talked about the need to move to the middle, be more bipartisan, give more to the Republicans, and at all costs avoid all those "controversial" issues — all of that is code for distancing themselves from you and me. If DADT isn't repealed this year, it may not be repealed for years to come. And that will mean none of the President's top promises will be kept to our community.
Please contact HRC today, and urge them to publicly demand that the President take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.
We are at a unique moment in history. Pro-gay Democrats control the White House and the Congress. Momentum is building for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And the polls show that the American people, even Republicans, are on our side. We can win this battle. But only if our leaders choose to lead. Gay Americans helped elect this President and this Congress with our votes, our money and our time. And gay Americans have funded HRC for years, in exchange for a promise of results once the Democrats finally came to power.
You've done your job. Now it's time for the President, Congress and HRC to do theirs.
HRC Front Desk: (202) 628-4160
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777-4723