While lumbering through traffic in West Hollywood and Westwood earlier today, I pondered my (then-)most recent post, wondering if Democrats would suffer any political fallout from their failure to push repeal of the Clinton-era Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy banning gays from serving openly in the military. And I realized that they wouldn’t. They have nothing to gain politically by repealing this silly policy.
Republicans also have little to gain politically by repealing it. Can you imagine gay activists and organizations rushing to support Republicans because they acted in the interest of our nation’s military by overturning a policy which allows for the discharge of competent service members? C’mon, these are people who refused to praise then-Vice President Cheney for providing an example of how all parents should treat their gay children. Only one gay leader (that I am aware of) commended him for including his daughter’s female partner in public events.
Just as many gay organizations won’t support a gay-friendly Republican, almost none of them would abandon a prominent Democrat who doesn’t help them on a key issue, even one who backs a law they strongly oppose. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) refused to rescind its endorsement of Bill Clinton when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.
They didn’t abandon President Clinton then. And they won’t abandon President Obama now. For the Democrats, there’s no political cost for inaction on DADT.
When gay groups march in lockstep with the Democratic Party, they limit their leverage over its leaders. Democrats know that the gay groups activists aren’t going anywhere. They’re far too politicized. Unlike libertarian-leaning GOP activists, they won’t sit home on Election Day if they feel betrayed by their party.
It’s the gay groups’ slavish advocacy for the DNC which delays a move on DADT. Just as with gay marriage, national Democrats have nothing to gain, but a lot to lose if they move to repeal DADT or recognize same-sex mariage
By avoiding votes on these issues, they don’t risk alienating socially conservative voters who might bolt the party should they move forward on these issues.
But, maybe if more Daniel Chois comes forward to put a human face on the ban, to show us the true cost of the policy, they might be able to contain the damage of a move to repeal. It might convince more people that this is not so much a gay rights’ issue but a national security one.
Just as the loss of a gifted linguist like Choi shows the true cost of DADT, delays in repeal of DADT show the true cost of the gay groups’ blind allegiance to the Democratic Party. No matter how this Democratic Congress acts, its leaders know that they can count on the support of the gay groups.
Maybe if they weren’t so submissive to their Democratic masters, the national gay groups could actually accomplish something for the gay Americans they purport to represent.