My party has not covered itself in glory in the way it has handled repeal of the Clinton-era Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Instead of considering repeal on the merits, all too many Republicans have opposed repeal not, in most cases, because of animus against homosexuals, but in order to throw a bone to social conservatives who want some assurance that Republicans are paying attention to them.
Democrats, on the other hand, have been trying to kick the can down the road, avoiding a vote so as not to risk offending those big-government social conservatives in their own (shrinking) coalition. They had hoped that the slavish support they receive from such lickspittle organizations like HRC would help them hold the gay vote, but they didn’t count on the failure of gay left bloggers to toe the party line.
Leftie bloggrs like Pam Spaulding and John Aravosis continued to speak out against legislative inaction on repeal, even threatening a boycott. In response to their threats to boycott the DNC, congressional Democrats finally acted. But, since his party was going about playing base politics, Senate Majority Harry Reid, now sliding in the polls, decided to throw a bone to another interest group, by tacking the DREAM Act onto the “defense legislation that includes the repeal.”
Now, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who backs repeal joining the Republican filibuster, “because Democrats wouldn’t allow the Republicans sufficient leeway to offer amendments“, it looks like repeal won’t be possible before the November elections.
Both parties have failed on this issue. Reid should have not kept delaying a vote, allowing the issue to become further politicized. Republicans should not paid more attention to conservative arguments for repeal, many based on the numerous studies showing that allowing gay people to serve openly would not compromise unit cohesiveness nor military readiness. Instead all too many rushed to flash some silly credential to social conservatives, ever in need of validation.
Save for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), gay organizations have also failed. With a leadership drawn from a partisan Democratic base, HRC hampered its ability to lobby Republicans. And by failing to endorse George W. Bush in 2004, Log Cabin undermined its credibility as a Republican organization, thus compromising its ability to influence Republican legislators.
This is a sad day. A stupid and counterproductive policy remains in place.
UPDATE: GOProud’s Christopher Barron blames Reid (he’s not the only one):
Just now on the floor of the Senate, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a consent agreement that would have allowed for a vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and provided a fair framework for the debate. Unfortunately, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected this offer – and as a result, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal has died in the Senate.
The defeat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal lies solely with Harry Reid and the Democrat leadership. Harry Reid is playing political games with the lives of the brave gay men and women serving in our military. It’s clear now that Lady GaGa should have held her Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal rally in Nevada instead of Maine.
UP-UPDATE: Pam Spaulding also thinks the Senate Democratic leader is the problem, telling me in an e-mail (which I quote with her permission), “Reid is the real problem at this point. By banning GOP amendments, he’s going to lose this cloture vote. He’s so petty that he didn’t include SLDN in the presser his office coordinated.”
UP-UP-UPDATE: Even Log Cabin is faulting Reid:
The Log Cabin Republicans are troubled by the parochial political actions of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) who has refused to compromise with Senate Republicans by holding a full and open debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rather than reaching a compromise allowing for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed, the Senate has postponed action until after the election.
“Obviously, we are disappointed. Senator Reid failed to reach a compromise with Republicans and our military servicemembers will need to wait until the November elections are over for the US Senate to vote on a repeal.” says R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director, Log Cabin Republicans. “This partisan arrogance is an example of why voters will be turning away from Democrats on November 2nd.”
Nice to see another Log Cabin leader taking the Democrats to task.