With today's official confirmation that Democrat Ike Skelton refuses to include "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal language in the House's Defense Authorization bill, and reports are coming that Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson too has joined Democrat Sen. Jim Webb, and Republican Scott Brown in ruling out repeal in 2010. Their reason? They are listening to Bush-appointee and Obama holdover, Democratic Administration Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' recommendation to not to attach repeal to the Senate version of the Defense Authorization Bill. To anyone playing close attention, repeal seems hopelessly handicapped in 2010.
And mostly, by the White House's complete and total lack of leadership. Because of Gates' unprecedented presumption to set the legislative calendar for Congress, and Obama's total silence and disengagement on the issue, it is undeniably the Democrats who are destroying hope for repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for 2010.
They are telling our community as they always have: to wait.
This is not the bargain we made. This is not the "fierce urgency of now." I say to President Obama, we voted for you. Not George W. Bush's Secretary of Defense. We were expecting Change. And we expect you to keep the promises you made to our community. And we expect you to lead the Democrats, as the leader of the party.
Your complete and total lack of leadership on this issue is more than a disappointment, it is a betrayal.
It's time for the gay community-for the leaders of our national organizations-to come together, in total unity, and say with one voice: "We'll vote for you later."
Later. As in Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010.
In other words, you're on your own for midterms.
It's clear the carrot is not working. We've been donating, volunteering, and voting Democratic since time immemorial. We stood by the party in the hard times. We help them regain control of the House and the Senate in 2006. They've controlled both houses for over four years. But when did they get around to introducing a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal bill into the Senate? Oh that's right, March 2010, just two months ago. Wouldn't it have been good to have planned a little more in advanced? Wouldn't it have been smart to have introduced it earlier and built support internally before the clock started ticking down? Our civil rights are, apparently, the Democrat's afterthought.
Until Democrats fear ticking off the LGBT community, they clearly will be feckless allies and fair weather friends who take us for granted and feel no inclination to reward us for our tireless devotion to keeping them in power.
Well, let them look at the prospect of midterms 2010, without our resources. No LGBT votes. None of our feet on the ground knocking on doors. Our pocketbooks sealed tight.
To be clear, I don't want the Republicans in charge of the Senate or the House anymore than anyone else. But it is the only stick we have in our arsenal to discipline the Democrats into doing what they promised, what is right. As the Courage Campaign noted today, the relationship has become hopelessly dysfunctional. They clearly need a spanking. It is no longer enough they be better than the GOP, they must actually be good.
And, as completely incompetent as the Obama administration has been in getting anything resembling "bi-partisanship" out of the GOP in the last 15 months, I wish them luck in 2010, contending with even an stronger GOP minorities or, god forbid, majorities.
Maybe when President Obama really contemplates that, he'll call off his dog, Secretary Gates. Maybe he'll be moved to pick up the phone and have a chat with Jim Webb and Ben Nelson and get them to do what's good for the party in November 2010. Maybe he'll do one of his famous bi-partisan reach arounds to Scott Brown?
Or maybe not. Maybe it's time for Democrats to feel a little hurt from the LGBT community. Maybe our little kiss-and-make-up sessions after the Democrats passed and signed DADT, and DOMA, have left the impression the LGBT community are a bunch of pushover pansies that will never fight back, no matter how many times the party betrays us.
It's time (way past time, really) for Human Rights Campaign, and every major LGBT organization to let a message be known, Obama and the Democrats have a proposal on the table:
"President Obama and Secretary Gates must come out and endorse repeal this year. The leader of the party must bring Democrats in line to deliver on the promises he and the party have made to our community for years. Or every major LGBT organization will recommend LGBT Americans stay home during the midterm elections.
Yeah, we'll get around to helping you guys out again someday. On the same time frame you've been giving us for years: Later.
I find this divide between the LGBT community and President Obama very sad. Yet I understand where it's coming from. Many of the overtures to the LGBT community have been window dressing: cocktail parties, Easter Egg Hunts, a movie night for LGBT leaders. These gestures are meant to placate while LGBT soldiers are being fired for who they are, LGBT couples find themselves unable to bury their loved ones, and the federal government continues its institutional discrimination. Yes, the community is getting loud, angry and impatient. But as we know, the Black Civil Rights Movement didn't succeed because of cocktail parties. Please, Mr. Obama. Remember the fierce urgency of now.