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Gay Groups Should Make Repealing DADT the Priority

Last night, when I tracked down the Gallup poll showing increasing number of conservatives favoring repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military, I saw in the margin a link to poll finding a Majority of Americans Continue[s] to Oppose Gay Marriage. This in line with Pew’s recent findings.

Indeed, while the number supporting state recognition of same-sex civil unions has steadily increased over the past six years, the number opposing gay marriage has remained relatively constant, hovering between 55 and 59 percent (it’s nowat 57).

So, while the President expressed a commitment to repeal both the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in his speech Saturday night to the Human Rights Campaign, the smarter move politically might be to put the latter on the back burner and concentrate on repealing the former.

That’s why I commended the Administration for reaching out to Senator Lieberman.  He can help frame this as a national security issue, making it more difficult for the military from reacting as they did when, in 1993, Clinton first introduced the idea of lifting the ban.  The Democrat announced the move with Barney Frank, a longtime foe of a robust military, standing by his side.  And many in the military saw this as a move to enlist them in a social experiment crafted by legislators they did not trust.

That President Obama’s team has been working with the Connecticut Senator suggests the incumbent is aware of his predecessor’s mistakes and wishes to avoid them.  With ever larger majorities supporting repeal, the time is ripe for action.  But, he shouldn’t dither and should come forward with a time framer move forward on the issue or his promises will be for naught.

So, gay groups should focus on moving repeal, indeed, making this issue their priority, given that the chances of success are high.  And to increase those chances, they need end their suspicion of conservatives and build partnerships with those on the right side of the political aisle who have shifted their views on the ban in recent years. (more…)

Gays do not march in lockstep with HRC & the Democrats

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:56 pm - October 13, 2009.
Filed under: Gay America,Gay Politics,Obama and Gay Issues

In the wake of the growing discontent among the president’s erstwhile gay supporters over the Democrat’s failure to fulfill his campaign promises, the folks at Pajamas Media asked me to write a piece for them on that very issue.  Here are the first few paragraphs; you can find the rest on their home page:

Perhaps the easiest thing about being a gay conservative is that we expect less from our elected leaders than do our left-of-center counterparts.  Republicans politicians don’t promise us the moon and stars in their campaigns, so we’re not disappointed when they don’t bestow such lofty gifts on our community once elected.

For gay Democrats, however, it’s a different story.  They are repeatedly disappointed when their politicians do not follow through on the campaign pledges they make to our community.

In 1992, then-Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton promised to repeal the ban on gays in the military, but just a year later, he backpedaled on that promise.  After he clumsily tried to act on that promise in the first few days of his Administration, that Democrat realized he might suffer politically should he sign an Executive Order repealing the ban.  At the time, the President’s signature was all that was required to allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military.

Facing a firestorm of opposition from the military and Congress, the Democratic President relented and signed a supposedly compromise policy, the legislation which became known as Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).  Gays could now serve, provided they just didn’t self-identify as gay.  Now, the ban on open service is codified, requiring an act of Congress to be repealed.

This would not be the last time Clinton would sign legislation upsetting gay people who so enthusiastically backed him in 1992.

You can read the rest over at Pajamas.

Lieberman Likely to Lead Effort to Repeal DADT?

Well, maybe the White House is finally taking the first steps toward repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.  According to the Advocate,

Shortly after President Barack Obama pledged Saturday to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Administration’s highest-ranking LGBT official said the White House is speaking with certain senators about strategies for repealing the policy — specifically Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill — we are in direct discussions with Senator Lieberman,” John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, told The Advocate.

A spokesman for Senator Lieberman confirmed that the senator had been speaking to the White House about the bill.  “Senator Lieberman has had discussions with representatives of the Administration and others on the best way to reverse this policy, which he has opposed since it was first proposed in 1993,” said Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s press secretary.

Smart move to work with Lieberman.  Given the Connecticut Senator’s long-time support for a robust military, it’s makes a lot of sense to have him lead the effort to repeal this counterproductive measure.  More perhaps than any other member of the Democratic caucus, Lieberman enjoys the respect of the military and Republicans.  He can better frame repeal not as a gay rights’ issue but as a military issue, that the ban reduces the pool of recruits from which our armed services can draw.

That the Administration is in talk with Lieberman suggests a real commitment to repealing the ban.  It would be better if they had a timetable, to prompt more expeditious action.  With a solid majority even of conservatives favoring repeal, the time to act is now. (more…)

Teachers Unions “Feel Betrayed”* by Obama Plan on Charter Schools

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 9:07 am - October 13, 2009.
Filed under: Credit to Democrats,Real Reform

While I generally found that Barack Obama filled his campaign manifesto, the Audacity of Hope, with standard issue liberal explanations of and statist solutions to America’s problems, he did occasionally part company with his ideological confrères.  For example, while his section on education was short, a few of his suggestions put him at odds with the teachers’ unions, a key Democratic constituency.

He seemed to favor merit pay for better teachers and even advocated alternative means of teacher certification which might open up the profession to allow people competent in certain subjects to each without undergoing the tedious process of teacher training (in Education schools).  In speeches, he often championed charter schools, schools which are part of the public education system, but do not have to adhere to many of the rules and regulations of traditional public schools.

While most recent stories on the Administration’s education policy have focused on Kevin Jennings, few have focused on Jennings’s boss, the very competent Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.  As CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Duncan implemented a number of reforms, some of which put him at odds with teachers’ unions.

As Education, Duncan is continuing that effort, standing up for one type of reform which has shown real results even as it upsets the teachers’ unions:

Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, are using federal stimulus funds and their respective bully pulpits to force states into spurring the growth of public charter schools, the government-funded-yet-privately-operated schools that are the nation’s most prominent and successful version of choice. And proving the adage that money talks, cash-hungry states are scaling back or eliminating restrictions on the growth of charter schools in order to qualify for the money.

Teachers unions, who expected more from Obama, feel betrayed. Complains AFT [American Federation of Teachers] President Randi Weingarten: “It looks like the only strategies they have are charter schools… That’s Bush III.”

Duncan has been a particularly zealous advocate of charter schools.  Indeed, it seems to be one reason the President tapped the former pro-basketball player for his cabinet:  “Duncan (along with predecessor Paul Vallas) authorized more than 92 schools as part of Mayor Richard Daley’s Renaissance 2010 initiative.” (more…)

Does Kevin Jennings Believe Sonny Corleone Embodies Western Ideal of Masculinity?

Commenting to my post expressing my determination to read Kevin Jennings’s published books to see if he really advocates “a radical revisioning of school curricula to fit his ideological agenda,” one reader offered “Including ‘LGBT themes’ in school curriculum is hardly radical.”  I responded that “it all depends on how those themes are introduced.

If he subscribes to the politically correct nostrums that define much of gay discourse today, then his advocacy would indeed be radical.  And now a blogger has unearthed a 1998 essay Jennings wrote that strongly suggests he does indeed subscribe to such nostrums, having such a twisted idea of the Western idea of masculinity that he must have stopped reading the Iliad at line 228 of its first book (if he ever got to the book at all).  Or never studied why Herakles had to undertake his celebrated twelve labors.

You see, Jennings seems to believe that an adolescent older brother was capable of “passing down the code of masculinity he’d been taught

We need to own up to the fact that our culture teaches boys that being “a man” is the most important thing in life, even if you have to kill someone to prove it. Killing someone who calls you a faggot is not aberrant behavior but merely the most extreme expression of a belief that is beaten (sometimes literally) into boys at an early age in this country: Be a man—don’t be a faggot.

No, Kevin, it’s not.  When you think it’s not “aberrant behavior” to kill someone who calls you names, you miss the whole point of Western masculinity.  The lesson which the Greek heroes needed learn (many of whom through the actions and words of the goddess Athena) is not to react with disproportionate force, but to react in just measure.  At the outset the Iliad, Achilles, filled with youthful braggadocio (likely similar to that of Jennings’s brother) draws his sword to strike Agamemnon dead in outrage at the disrespect the Mycenaen King showed him.  But, the owl-eyed goddess sweeps down from the heavens in order to restrain him.

To become a man and realize his destiny, a hero must learn to restrain his battle fury, channeling it into just causes.  And that is the essence of Western masculinity.  A frenzied reaction (like that of Achilles before Athena’s intervention is the antithesis of the Western ideal.) (more…)