Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Obama starting to move of DADT repeal?

If we know anything about our president by now, it's that he wants to please everybody. However, he's slowly learning that Republican obstructionists won't tolerate anything remotely democratic, as evidenced by his State of the Union dressing down of the Supreme Court and his smack-down to the GOP. This is the president that we elected. The guy that was all about change and doing the right thing, regardless of who's toes he stepped on. The question is whether or not this display of muscle-flexing is just for show or if he can walk the walk.

Over the last year we've seen that when it comes to LGBT rights, this prez prefers to move slowly, doling out bits and pieces so as to appease our community without alienating conservative democrats. WTF? The term "conservative Democrat" is as much an oxymoron as "religious right" or "Fox News".

The fact of the matter is that this president has squandered his window of opportunity when it comes to moving forward on LGBT equality. Anyone who has been paying attention for the last year knows that taking on health care reform with such a massive overhaul so early in his administration was going to cost a huge amount of political capital and as the Clintons found out, never had a snowball's chance in hell of passing.

It was only a matter of time before the Republican backlash would begin. The Massachusetts special election results were just the beginning. Last week the Supreme Court effectively nullified the bipartisan McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Corporations can now buy and sell elections like any other commodity.

Now, with heath care reform essentially dead in the water, we hear that the president wants to move forward on other parts of his agenda this year, including the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". With so little political capital left, I can't help but wonder just how much change we can realistically expect.

The Washington Post reports this morning:
On Tuesday, in the first Congressional hearing on the issue in 17 years, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen will unveil the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out a repeal, which requires an act of Congress. Gay rights leaders say they expect Mr. Gates to announce in the interim that the Defense Department will not take action to discharge service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties or jilted partners, one of the most onerous aspects of the law. Pentagon officials had no comment.

“In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat,” Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, said Sunday on “Meet the Press” on NBC, “why would we want to get into this debate?” 

It's clear that President Obama wants to move forward with DADT repeal, but if he is really serious about it, he should issue a stop-loss to prevent further dismissals while we're fighting two wars. Despite the fact that a majority of Americans favor repealing the discriminatory policy and that younger military personnel have no problem serving alongside gays and lesbians, it looks like a full repeal of DADT is still a long way off.
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