LGBT and progressive bloggers are engaging in an all-out push today to contact the Human Rights Campaign, the leading gay rights organization in America, and have them show leadership on repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on gay and lesbian service members.
OUR MESSAGE TO HRC IS SIMPLE:
Publicly demand that President Obama take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.
1) That means the President needs to state publicly that he wants Congress to repeal DADT this year; and
2) The President needs to take the lead in working with Congress to make sure the repeal happens.
If you’re a member or donor to HRC, tell them, and ask to speak to Members Services:
HRC Front Desk: (202) 628-4160
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777-4723
HRC Web site comment page.
General membership email at hrc: email@example.com
Many gay rights advocates have been frustrated, not only by the pace of change in the Obama Administration, but the muted response from the national organizations, who they feel should be more aggressive in advocating for those changes. This action against the HRC seeks to push them into the spotlight with public pressure on the White House and members of Congress, and bloggers note that their close working relationship with the White House would mean that public statements of the type they desire would send a powerful signal.
Sponsors of the blog swarm include Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis of AMERICAblog, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend, Michelangelo Signorile from Sirius OutQ & the Gist, Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos, and several others.
While the President did call for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in his State of the Union Address, and while the movement has received major boosts in the past few weeks from public supporters like Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and even former Vice President Dick Cheney, many gay rights bloggers have expressed concern over the lack of a defined strategy. Sudbay and Aravosis write:
But that momentum is quickly slipping away. After talking to people around Washington over the past two weeks, Joe and I have found a vacuum of leadership that is leading to confusion. The Hill has no idea if the President does or doesn’t want them to move ahead with repeal this year. The House has already said that it’s waiting for the Senate to do something. The Senate is in turmoil after the Democrats lost a single seat in January. And the DADT proposals being discussed in the Senate are focused on every possible approach except full repeal this year.
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.
Joan McCarter has more.
The campaign to get Democratic-leaning groups to advocate for legislative action probably should not be confined to gay rights issues. Indeed, the biggest threat facing Democrats right now appears to be themselves, with the constant agonizing and self-analysis outstripping the actual electoral danger and really making it worse:
If we told you that Democrats were favored to lose about eight Senate seats (six of which are in states Obama carried in ’08), lose some 30 to 40 in the House, and see their top domestic issue — health care — stalled in Congress, you’d guess that President Obama’s approval rating was, what, 35%? Maybe 40%? But as any close follower of American politics knows, Obama’s approval is at or near 50% (even at 53% in the always-volatile Gallup daily track). Yet Democrats, including what we saw and heard from Evan Bayh yesterday, are behaving like Obama is at 35%. This is particularly ironic when we’re just a year-plus removed from a president whose approval was 25% to 30%. There is no doubt that this is a TOUGH political environment for Democrats, but are they making it tougher by running for the hills when things might not be as bad for them as was the GOP’s situation from 2006-2008? And what does it say about the Democrats and their ability to govern when they’re acting like this when their president is at 50%? Republicans rallied around their president in ’04, when he was hovering around 50%.
Concern about losing the leadership in Congress could be alleviated by leading. And repealing DADT is but one small example of the potential for leadership.