The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld reports what many of us have heard and/or suspected for many many months: The White House does not intend to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010. Only days after President Obama's State of the Union address, White House staff told this to a number of gay leaders.
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.
The White House declined to comment on the meeting.
But the Human Rights Campaign’s David Smith, who also attended the meeting, recalls it differently.
“They were noncommittal about legislation in that meeting, but not definitively one way or the other,” said S
Joe Sudbay at AMERICABlog: "Even if David Smith's recollection is more accurate, 'noncommittal'? 'Not one way or the other'? Just five days earlier the President said he was going to have DADT repealed this year. But, by everyone's recollection at this White House meeting, the indications were certainly otherwise. That should have set off alarms. Yet, at the end of February, HRC President Joe Solmonese told his organization's donors at a fundraiser that DADT would be repealed this year. Sounds like his group already had indications to the contrary. The warning signs were there. The White House has played us for fools."
Can't say we didn't see this coming. Saw this back in October ...
Meanwhile: The Denver Post reports the Administration is facing a "revolt" among Democrats on the Hill for its "carefully crafted strategy" of stalling on "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
Democrats in the House and Senate — including two key lawmakers from
Colorado — say they are unwilling to wait for completion of a 10-month
Pentagon study on repeal of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell"
and are instead moving to include immediate repeal in the defense
reauthorization bill, scheduled for mark-up next month. Sen. Mark
Udall, D-Colo., among the Democrats on the Senate Armed Services
Committee backing the move, said the committee was "within a vote or
two" of including repeal in the must- pass legislation. He met with
three discharged members of the military Tuesday, using their stories to
highlight the need for repeal this year. Rep. Jared Polis, a
Boulder Democrat and one of three openly gay members of Congress, holds a
key position on the Rules Committee that he is willing to use to insert
a similar provision in the House version of the spending bill, he said
Congressional aides said both approaches are likely to face opposition from the White House, which in February laid a timetable built around an extensive Pentagon study that won't be completed until Dec. 1, pushing a final move on the contentious issue past what's expected to be Democrats' toughest election cycle in years.
The Advocate also reports a number of Democrats want to make an end-run around the White House.
And on Wednesday; White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President is "committed" to waiting for the Pentagon to conclude its "study" on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before seeking a vote. The study will be concluded in December so any vote would effectively be delayed until in 2011 ... after the mid-term elections.
Watch the video and read the transcript AFTER THE JUMP ...
To prove the President's "commitment", Gibbs reminds reporters of campaign trail promises: "Obviously the President made a commitment in the presidential campaign, and understands the passion that people hold the belief that all should be able to serve. The President holds that belief too. But I would remind folks that wasn’t a belief that the President held in 2007 -- that’s a belief that the President held in running for the Senate as far back as 2003. The President has made and is committed to making this changed law."
Read the transcript AFTER THE JUMP ...
The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld questions Gibbs at Wednesday's White House press briefing:
Q Let me get back to the question. So there was the heckling on Monday night, there’s the veterans yesterday at the White House gates handcuffing themselves to the fence. All of these actions are aimed at getting repeal this year, something the White House has sort of declined to commit to since the State of the Union address. Has the White House misjudged the level of patience among LGBT and grassroots activists on this?
MR. GIBBS: No. Again, I would remind anybody on this issue -- look, first of all, I will say this. Obviously the President made a commitment in the presidential campaign, and understands the passion that people hold the belief that all should be able to serve. The President holds that belief too.
But I would remind folks that wasn’t a belief that the President held in 2007 -- that’s a belief that the President held in running for the Senate as far back as 2003.
The President has made and is committed to making this changed law. I don’t think he’s underestimated the -- as you said, the patience of some. The President wants to see this law changed, just as you’ve heard the Chair of the Joint Chiefs and others in the military say that it’s time for that change to happen.
Q But he’s committed to them letting the Pentagon work through its working group process until December 1st, is that true? He’s committed to that?
MR. GIBBS: Yes. The President has set forward a process with the Joint -- the Chair of the Joint Chiefs and with the Secretary of Defense to work through this issue.
Q Before any legislative action is taken -- that rules out legislative action this year?
MR. GIBBS: Well, again -- the House and the Senate are obviously a different branch of government. The President has a process and a proposal I think that he believes is the best way forward to seeing, again, the commitment that he’s made for many years in trying to -- changing that law.