Days after Barack Obama publicly pledged to repeal DADT this year during the State of the Union address—pledges don't get anymore public than that—Barack Obama was overruled during a secret meeting at the White House. The indispensable Kerry Eleveld has the story:
Early in the year, multiple sources say some administration officials counseled the president against acting on the military’s gay ban in 2010. Still, Obama included his intention to end the policy in his State of the Union address, saying, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law…”
Yet just days after the January 27 speech, White House officials convened a meeting on February 1 with LGBT advocates in which they said the policy would not be included in the president’s recommendations for this year's Department of Defense authorization bill, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.
“It was a definitive shut-down from [Jim] Messina,” said a source, who was present at the meeting and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, referring to the White House deputy chief of staff. “He said it would not be going into the president’s Defense authorization budget proposal.” The news was a blow to activists since the Defense funding bill is the best legislative vehicle for including a measure to overturn the policy. “It almost seemed like the bar on the hurdle got raised two or three times higher,” said the source.
I didn't realize that Jim Messina was the president of the United States.
Amazingly—predictably—toadies from the Human Rights Campaign were at the meeting where Messina essentially ruled out a repeal of DADT in 2010, walking the White House back from a promise the president had reiterated just days earlier during the State of the Union, and HRC said and did nothing. The largest gay rights group in the nation did not raise the alarm, did not publicly demand that the president keep the promise he had reiterated during the SOTU. HRC once again demonstrated that its more interested in protecting the president politically than in it is in advancing the cause of LGBT equality.
Yesterday Robert Gibbs stated—after being pressed by Eleveld—that the White House isn't going to move on a DADT repeal until after the Pentagon completes its study on lifting the ban. The study isn't expected to be finished until December of this year, after midterm elections, and leaving precious little time to move on a repeal "this year," per the president's promises. Now there's talk of Congress moving on a DADT repeal without the White House.
I believe this may have been the same meeting that Messina lectured the gay groups on the fact that we were a nation involved in two wars, so they shouldn't expect DADT to be repealed - which was unfortunately a GOP talking point. What did those in attendance do? It's not clear they did much of anything. After that meeting, the Human Rights Campaign continued to defend the President, claiming that he had a plan to repeal DADT this year, and that the plan was on track - even after the number two man in the White House told them "no."
Pam Spaulding points out that HRC head Joe Solmonese told a crowd at a fundraising dinner in North Carolina that the DADT repeal was a done deal, and that it would be done this year, even though the White House told HRC that it would not be done this year. Pam unloads:
[A] no less important story [is] how our lobbying organization on the Hill conducts its business. One of the core definitions of non-profit institutional rot is when an organization's leadership crosses the line, willing to abandon the core mission in order in favor of sustaining its bloat.... Is that what is happening here? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Why, for instance, would Joe Solmonese purposely, definitively, go on the road, before cameras, before donors at all levels with their checkbooks out, and say that DADT will be repealed this year? Well, the cash flows in if people sitting at those tables believe HRC has the influence to make it happen then goals of one kind are achieved, but it certainly isn't mission based.
I have to tell you, since I was there at that HRC Carolinas dinner when he said, "And finally, finally this year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'...once and for all."
I thought "wow, he's making news here — we must have DADT in the bag. Surely he wouldn't say this if it wasn't true; he has access to top WH officials." I asked random attendees about the statement and many really didn't have a clue about the winding legislative, military and WH role in advocacy about repeal. But they did believe Joe.
Is this the best we can do here? Is there any accountability? Think - would this be acceptable in any other non-profit? If true, I think this kind of leadership is at best sleazy and at worst outright fraud. Re: DADT, unless you know you have all the political ducks in a row to make it happen why would you make such a definitive statement like that? Do you just tell donors "oops" when it all goes down in the crapper — then ask for more scratch?
HRC raises shitloads of money in Seattle from gullible gays and lesbians with deep pockets. Your money would be better spent on—and sent to—the ACLU, the NCLR, and GetEQUAL. Those groups are actually advancing the cause of LGBT equality.