Friday, June 05, 2009

Reports identify HRC as the roadblock to ending DADT

The LGBT blogosphere is in an uproar. Several sources are reporting that the stunning lack of action on the "don't ask, don't tell" military ban can be traced to a deal the Human Rights Campaign allegedly made with our allies in Congress.

As I understand these reports, the HRC "deal" sounds more like a political strategy then any kind of quid pro quo deal. The situation, as Jason Bellini reports on The Daily Beast, is that HRC asked key senators and House members to first tackle the supposedly easier-to-pass bills on hate crimes and employment non-discrimination before moving to repeal DADT.

This approach, if true, may be why the Obama Administration seems to be so uninterested in taking any action on DADT. The Administration, the theory goes, has been convinced by HRC that the LGBT community is OK with waiting.

Pam's House Blend reports HRC angrily denying the story.
"This story is not only an outright lie, it is recklessly irresponsible. HRC never made such a deal and continues to work with congress and the administration on a full range of equality issues including a swift end to the military's shameful ban on gay servicemembers."
-- Brad Luna, Spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign
I have no personal knowledge of what HRC may or may not have done. I have worked with HRC President Joe Solmonese and have always known him to be a honorable man. What Bellini and others report looks, on first glance, to be a classic political strategy, so it doesn't surprise me that HRC might do something like this.

If there is any truth to this, it is also a huge, honking mistake.

If anyone from HRC or any other LGBT leader has done this, they have provided Democrats with an excuse for inaction. This is particularly galling because Obama may be able to suspend enforcement of DADT with an executive order.

Full repeal requires an act of Congress, but a stop-loss order would end the on-going tragedy of DADT. Lt. Dan Choi and hundreds of others members of the service are being forced out of the military by an administration that claims to support them.

If this is true, HRC will have also destroyed its credibility with the LGBT community. Its leaders will have shown that they are completely out of touch with their base.

Mike Signorile interviews Solmonese and Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center.

Pam Spaulding comments and links.

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