Joe Solmonese Insists He Didn’t Tell Obama to Wait on DADT. Is He Lying?


The Human Rights Campaign is mounting a defense against charges it advised the White House to hold off on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in favor of passing hate crimes and anti-discrimination employment legislation — and it’s not clear it’s working.

Yesterday’s shocking report that HRC used its much-bragged-about access to tell President Obama ending DADT could wait; until ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Act moved through Congress, it was okay to keep discriminating against gay soldiers.

Michael Cole, HRC’s senior communications manager, told Queerty: “This story is not only an outright lie, it is recklessly irresponsible. HRC never made such a deal and continues to work with congress and the administration on a full range of equality issues including a swift end to the military’s shameful ban on gay servicemembers. Happy to answer questions or clarify anything.” (We followed up with a few questions; we have yet to hear back.)

In the meantime, Jason Bellini’s original report with anonymous sources is now backed up by OutQ host Michelangelo Signorile who has an on the record source. Says Signorile: “While Bellini had unnamed sources, I, however, have a named source saying exactly what Bellini reports, someone I interviewed several weeks ago on the show: Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center, the research institute that focuses on the military and sexuality, located at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Belkin writes often for The Huffington Post and interacts with members of Congress.” From a previous interview:

BELKIN: …Our major national gay rights organizations — it would be one thing to say nothing, but there is pro-active lobbying on the hill for Congress not to consider [the “don’t ask, don’t tell”] issue. And so the community has been appalling on this issue.

SIGNORILE : Have you seen any response from any of those groups, and I guess we’re talking about the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, other Washington groups?

BELKIN:…We’ve heard from so many offices that not only are they not doing anything but they’re pro-actively lobbying against consideration of the issue. I feel very confident in saying that.

No wonder HRC president Joe Solmonese — who’s been dodging interviews since last month after meeting with the White House — is suddenly making himself available to the gay press.

If you want to listen to Signorile’s full interview, go here where you can listen to Solmonese explain away the White House’s lack of action — and deliver an unconvincing argument that his advice to Obama’s camp doesn’t favor specific legislation. However, says Solmonese about whether he ever recommended sitting on one effort: “Oh no, absolutely not.”

UPDATE: By way of HRC comes this statement from Sen. Chuck Shumer’s spokesman Brian Fallon: “Senator Schumer has never said the White House didn’t consider the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ a priority, and he never said the Human Rights Campaign struck some quote-unquote deal on this issue. Any rumors to the contrary are flat-out wrong.”

UPDATE 2: On Hardball last night, Chris Matthews quizzed Solmonese. (Lorri Jean Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center was also a guest. Full transcript here.)

SOLMONESE: Well, I think, on any measure of issues that we‘re working on right now with the White House, whether it‘s movement on the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or overturning don‘t ask/don‘t tell, the White House is working on these issues. But Lorri Jean brings up an incredibly important point, particularly with regard to don‘t ask/don‘t tell. There‘s overturning the policy, which I believe that the administration will do within the course of the year or so, and then there are good hardworking people like Dan Choi, an Arab language interpreter, who could potentially be thrown out of the military in the next few weeks. And the president has the opportunity to stop that from happening. We have asked him to do that and pressed him to do that, and hope that he will.

MATTHEWS: But, if he does that by executive order, what is he worried about? Why is he not doing it, Joe?

SOLMONESE: Well—well, we don‘t know what—I mean, he may do it, and—and he has the opportunity to do it. I mean, it may be that—I don‘t know why he wouldn‘t do it. But, I mean, with regard to overturning the policy generally, I mean, you brought up—I don‘t think it‘s a case that he wants to not necessarily upset these military leaders, but I think, you know, he understands that there‘s an implementation part of this policy that has to be worked through.
And I think, on any measure that he‘s working on with us—and I see it—you know, we‘re working daily with them on getting the hate crimes bill to his desk right now—that he approaches these things in a way that they will be sustainable and will work in—in a way that‘s going to, you know, work for the community, as opposed to an expeditious manner, which I think you saw President Clinton undertake in the first days of his administration that actually got us don‘t ask/don‘t tell.

On the one hand, Solmonese is explaining away Obama’s non-action; on the other, he says Obama can repeal DADT with just a signature and that he should do it.

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  • dgz

    THIS is a good follow-up story.

    but what could the strategy behind this possibly be? i’m completely befuddled. how does it make sense to force private industry to stop discriminating, while still allowing the government to do so (and force most educational institutions to condone it)? i’m completely at a loss.

    furthermore, if this IS some sort of bizarre, master-mind strategy, WHY have they been lying about it?

    i feel like i’m in some alternate dimension. no wonder Queerty has been paranoid about our gay leadership, with this going on…

    once again, proof that we don’t have Gay Leaders, just leading gays.

  • Chris

    Queerty, writing a story with outright lies? This site is full of unethical journalism. I’m surprised it hasn’t been sued for defamation yet.

  • InExile

    If Solmonese is not favoring specific legislation, what the hell is he doing? Too weak and too passive, we need better than this if we ever hope to actually accomplish anything concrete as in results!

    The democrats are already a weak and floundering bunch, they need to be pushed and pushed hard. We are in the position of having a President showing NO LEADERSHIP on the issues that effect our daily lives as gay people. HRC continuing to be passive and weak is making bad matters worse.

  • timncguy

    Maybe this controversy will force Solmonese to actually come out a tell us about the “secret plan” the White House supposedly has for advancing our issues.

    All Solmonese ever says is the standard “we continue to work with the admin and congress on a full range…” blah, blah, blah

    Well then, why don’t they PUBLISH some reports on this “work” they continue to do? Why does all this “work” have to continue to be treated like top secret back room deals that only Joe is allowed to know?

    HRC… You want our MONEY, then TELL US what you are accomplishing.

    There better be something else coming out of the White House this month. If the Prinde Month Proclamation was the big ACTION we have been told by HRC to expect in June, I’m unimpressed. That silly proclamation contained a call to action in it that didn’t even include the White House. Obama called for the LGBT community, the LGNT orgs and the congress to work TOGETHER to advance equality. What he should have called for in the proclamation was for those groups to work with HIM to advance equality. But, Obama left himself out of the call to action.

  • Aaron

    Nfortunately the strategy behnd this would be to prolong strong financial support to the HRC. ie. If we get all of our rights asap, then what else would the HRC have to do for us, we wouldn’t need to support them. Also, if the HRC can prolong this fight by getting big gay dollar$, that’s more money and support for Obama.
    Although Queerty doesn’t use reliable sources 100% of the time, I do think they are right up there in hlding EVERYONE accountable. And that’s what we need.

  • Alec

    @Chris: Where are the outright lies? There’s a credibility gap here between Solmonese and Belkin. If Professor Belkin is correct, HRC has a lot of explaining to do.

  • jason

    Does anyone else get the feeling that the HRC is a Democratic Party enabler? I prefer my gay rights organizations to be ruthless in the pursuit of equality regardless of whose feelings are hurt. If the feelings of Democrats must be hurt, so be it.

    If the HRC is conniving with the Democrats to delay the repeal of DADT, then the HRC ought to be dispatched to the garbage bin.

  • Andrew W

    If this story isn’t true, then what other reason could there be for HRC and Solomonese’s failure to be out in front on this issue when it was clearly being reignited as a flashpoint in this ongoing civil rights fight? If there wasn’t a deal, why were they toeing the Obama party line in the face of outrage and attempts at real leadership from the likes of Dan Choi?

  • Chitown Kev


    I don’t have time to go into a lot (I’m at work)but:

    Backroom deals is the way government works, I have no problem with that aspect of this.

    The problem is HRC’s credibility on the issues, especially after the ENDA debacle. That and they don’t report back to the gay community.

  • JP

    The main spotlight is on the wrong group. Yes, HRC has long been the most expensive car in our garage that doesn’t run very well, but they’re “generalists.” D.A.D.T. is just one of their many agenda items.

    A much bigger smell being overlooked because of the preexisting (and justified) hostility to HRC is that SLND – – the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – – which was created for the SOLE purpose of fighting to get D.A.D.T. repealed & help soldiers being discharged, is surely also one of the groups Belkin is taking about, maybe the main one. For after seeming to suggest last year that President Obama could wait until 2011 to act upon D.A.D.T, SLDN is now saying that President Obama SHOULD NOT STOP DISCHARGES OF THEIR OWN CLIENTS using the entirely legal method available to him.

    In a shocking and inexplicable public fight with the experts at the Palm Center (like Belkin the guy Signorile quotes above), whose research SLDN has used for years to back up their work, SLDN is saying (as much as one can figure out their contradictory “reasoning”) that “your suggestion that the President could immediately stop discharges with his national emergency powers is wrong because it’s only a temporary solution and would be an end run that pisses people off. We want him to stop discharges by cutting funding for them in the military’s budget.”

    What makes no sense is that cutting $$$ would be even more of a “temporary solution” because the defense budget has to be renewed every year while it sure looks like we’re going to have troops stationed in the mideast for a long time – – certainly long past when the next budget is voted on.

    That’s right: unlike a national emergency Executive Order, the budget has to be voted on by Congress. If they’re not ready to repeal D.A.D.T. why would they approve defunding?

    The 2010 budget, that SLDN didn’t lay a glove on, is out the door, so now they’re fantasizing about the 2011 budget by which time over 1000 more gay servicemembers – – their clients – – will have been discharged.

    As for the “end run” excuse – – SLDN’s idea of indirectly stopping discharges with money games would surely give ammunition to those in Congress & the public that hate that type of thing. A bill comes up for X and someone slaps on Y which has nothing to do with.

    By freezing discharges in the name of the country’s safety – – something called “stop loss” that’s actually been done before – – the President would be DIRECTLY focusing on the insanity behind kicking people out who, for instance, speak Arabic just because they’re gay. He could build the case on what Americans already care deeply about – – their nation’s and their families’ safety.

    They’ve been under the radar but the young gay mideast vets against D.A.D.T. that you might remember traveling the country a couple of years ago & featured in the documentary “Ask Not” touring the country right now and will be shown on PBS on June 16th created a group entirely separate from SLDN.

    “Those who have served and who have been affected by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ are the ones who should be at the center of the debate and at the head of the table on this issue. We’re the ones who know the military, the Pentagon, and the issue, so it’s only natural that we be out front on this in the most strategic manner.”

    They recently opened their own DC office apparently thinking SLDN isn’t cutting it. They specifically say that the law will never be repealed just because it’s unfair to gays – – it will only happen after making the case that gay soldiers are necessary to defend the country.

    In May, Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, an Arabic translator who was discharged himself, “praised the Palm Center’s work today, saying, ‘These scholars’ creative approach to finding a politically viable solution to the ongoing problems of forced discharges and the continuous drainage of critically skilled and badly needed military personnel pursuant to this law is, as always, quite commendable’.”

    On the other side – – the former head of SLDN, Mr. Osburn, who never served in the military. When not incoherently dissing his former partners at Palm, he’s writing a book called “Making Giants Dance” about “how to get things done in Washington and the case study will be D.A.D.T.” Even though he failed for 14 years to get it repealed.

    And, Mr. Sarvis, his 65-yr. old replacement, like Solmonese, a professional lobbyist who was in the Army when the Beatles were still together.

    Mr. Sarvis immediately accomplished one thing – – much of SLDN’s staff, including the development director, the director of communications, the director of law and policy, the director of legislative affairs and a communications associate, quit saying he didn’t know what he was doing. And others, including a PR director and attorney have left since then.

    Jason Knight, the communications associate and Navy vet who was once in the news for having been discharged TWICE for being gay,
    said of Mr. Sarvis, “From his misquoting of the law on national news mediums, to the seeming quest for a personal legacy, Mr. Sarvis is failing our service men and women who are forced to live under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ every single day.”

    Mr. Osburn says, “Keep discharging gays because my failed Congressional strategy was better.” The other says, “Yes, I’ve failed, too, but keep discharging gays because my way (though no more a permanent solution and ass backwards) is my way.”

    Strategies are debatable but if the admission by Mr. Sarvis that “we are not privy” to what’s going on at the Pentagon regarding discussions about D.A.D.t doesn’t demonstrate how impotent and irrelevant SLDN has become then this surely does: Cong. Ellen Tauscher, the chief sponsor of the D.A.D.T. repeal bill, didn’t bother to attend SLDN’s March rally in front of the Capitol FOR HER OWN BILL. Neither did gay Representatives Barney Frank nor Tammy Baldwin. Nor were any of them at SLDN’s annual gala the next night.

    Having been roasted by former key employees, then by gay media for originally saying it would be just fine for the President to wait until 2011 to act on D.A.D.T, Mr. Sarvis keeps his desk chair warm and cashing his $141,000 a year checks, while every day another 1-2 gay servicemembers join the nation’s unemployment lines and the holes in the nation’s security get bigger and bigger.

  • edgyguy1426

    I think Solmonese is too caught up in being the go-to gay talking head, that he’s forgotten what priorities need to be set.

  • Cam

    That is EXACTLY how HRC has worked in the past. They have gone to multiple platintiffs in different states and asked them to drop their lawsuits for gay marriage, they did it in Hawaii, MA. etc….

    The Hate crimes bill is something that HRC would love to pass. It doesn’t move our overall civil rights foreward that much, so we still need HRC. If Marriage is legalized and federal discrimination is outlawed, suddenly an organization like HRC becomes obsolete. And they won’t give up their million dollar gala’s without a fight.

  • michael

    @jason: Thanks Jason. I also agree that the organizations that solicit our support and take our money should be passionate & relentless in their pursuit of our best interests as gay people. The HRC and its milk toast leader is an organization that receives a lot of cash for very little product. Why do we continue to support these people? Its bad enough that we only have 2 political parties, one being the lesser of the evils but full of the same bullshit, to chose from. Personally, I am putting my money on the upcoming federal prop. 8 case. A lot of people are scared because of how the court will decide but its time to see once and for all what this nation is made of. Personally I think the HRC is scared shitless that they will win and if they do our “perceived need” of them will go way down and so will the checks they receive. The HRC is supported more because so many gays feel like they are part of the ” gay elite”, than any other reason. We can take the money we flush down the toilet by contributing to them and start a much better country club if thats what we are looking for.

  • michael

    Okay, we are waiting for hired HRC blog posters and HRC wannabes to come on here and tell us we are haters and don’t know what we are talking about. I’ll make popcorn while we wait.

  • Cam

    All the money we don’ate to HRC should be spent on hired one of the REAL lobbying hired gun/heavyweights in DC. Hell, for HALF of what HRC spends on it’s Gala’s we should just hire that lobbyist that got McCain to try to improperly influence an FCC decicion. Hell she only met with him 2 times or so to get that. Imagine what she could do with a few million dollars and a year or two for us. LOL

  • Cam

    @michael: you said…”No. 14 · michael
    Okay, we are waiting for hired HRC blog posters and HRC wannabes to come on here and tell us we are haters and don’t know what we are talking about. I’ll make popcorn while we wait.

    I think one of them showed up for comment #2.

  • John

    Well, how about an upaid HRC defender? I think the problem we keep seeing is everyone taking a simplistic approach to passing our LGBT wishlist – assuming that by demanding things change they will happen. Congress, though, is a complicated, difficult body to work through any legislation – including LGBT legislation.

    From what I gather and have been told, HRC’s strategy is to prioritize legislation in order of its likelihood of passage. So, Hate Crimes (which has broad support and is the least controversial) is first up. The hope is to pass it with a big margin, which sets up the next pro-LGBT vote; presumably an inclusive ENDA. If Hate Crimes passes with big margins and not a lot of outcry from anti-gay folks, then the hope is that an inclusive ENDA will be easier to get through. DOMA and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” then probably come next.

    Just because Democrats are in power doesn’t make things automatic or easy. There are plenty of conservative democrats who are wary of LGBT issues and have to be worked pretty hard to get their support (sometimes by horse trading by our allies on non-LGBT issues). So, things move slowly and take time.

    It’s frustrating, to be sure, to the constant negativity and bile spewed toward HRC on this site is disheartening. When we had anti-gay majorities in Congress and an anti-gay President in the White House, HRC focused on stopping anti-gay legislation; now that we have progessive, generally pro-LGBT folks in Congress and the White House, it’s certainly fair to expect some victories.

    But let’s be realistic: we’ve had pro-LGBT folks in charge of the both houses of Congress and the White house for just over 5 months now. Some areas of the White House are still being staffed. How about we wait a year or so before jumping to conclusions and labeling grops failures.

  • Alec

    @John: Prioritization is one thing. But if Aaron Belkin of the Palm Center is correct, either HRC or another Hill group was actively opposing the legislative repeal efforts. That’s a problem of an entirely different magnitude.

    Moreover, any “wait until 2010” argument on DADT seems politically inept in many ways. As though it will be easier to repeal the policy during the pull out from Iraq and on the eve of midterm elections.

  • Mark in Colorado

    It will be a great day when HRC is gone forever. I will celebrate with a glass of expensive champaigne.

  • Mark in Colorado

    Oops. I meant “champagne.”

  • anonymous

    i think enda is so much more important than dadt. lets keep gays out of the military becuase the military is fucked up either way.

  • Michael @


    Sorry, this is far less about allowing out gays to enlist than protecting the gays that are ALREADY in the military and stopping those identified from being kicked to the curb which is both immoral and damaging to our national security. You can wave daisies and sing “Give Peace A Chance” until you’re blue in the face, make a huge case for all the mistakes the military has made, but until Jesus or St. Judy comes, we’re still going to need that super police force to protect us.

  • Michael @

    Some of you might encounter various assertions than some Obama apologists are banding about the Net in relation to an Executive Order [a separate issue, per se, than legislative strategy but one that could positively influence the timetable and outcome].

    Here is a point-by-point refutation to such claims by the person Signorile interviewed, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin.

    “I would like to respond briefly to recent discussions about whether President Obama could suspend gay discharges with the stroke of a pen. Last week, the Palm Center released a study which argued that the President could, in fact, suspend the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law via executive order. The study was co-authored by three of the top experts on military law in our community, all of whom are nationally respected law professors or practitioners, and military veterans.

    While some of those who have critiqued the idea of an executive order are lawyers, THEY ARE NOT EXPERTS IN MILITARY LAW, and there are a number of errors in their analyses:

    (1) This issue has little to do with the Constitutional question of divided responsibility for oversight of the military, which is mentioned only in passing in our study. Rather, CONGRESS HAS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED THE PRESIDENT, BY LAW, TO SUSPEND ANY LAW RELATING TO SEPARATION, DISCHARGE AND RETENTION DURING NATIONAL SECURITY EMERGENCIES. CONGRESS HAS DEFINED SUCH EMERGENCIES, AND WE ARE IN ONE NOW. The statutory authority that Congress has given to the President means that there is no need to decide broader constitutional questions.

    2) Members of Congress who oppose the order WOULD NOT HAVE STANDING TO FILE A SUIT to challenge an executive order. The fear that Congress would be likely to challenge a presidential order is premised on the assumption that the president would be doing an end-run around Congress. As mentioned above, Congress has given the president authority to sign such an order by law. THERE IS NO END-RUN INVOLVED.

    (3) THE DETAILS OF HOW VARIOUS SERVICES NOW IMPLEMENT STOP-LOSS REGULATIONS ARE IRRELEVANT. What matters is that the statute authorizing such regulations also authorize the president to suspend any law relating to discharge, separation and retention during national security emergencies. THE PRESIDENT IS NOT LIMITED TO PRIOR STOP-LOSS MODELS in exercising his stop-loss authority.

    (4) An executive order WOULD NOT SIMPLY DELAY LGB DISCHARGES UNTIL THE STOP-LOSS IS LIFTED. Under federal law, the President has the authority to “suspend any provision of law,” not only to suspend discharges under a law. The draft executive order contained in the report spells out the effect of suspending the law, which includes suspension of all enforcement, investigations, proceedings, or other personnel actions.

    Some of those who have critiqued our study do not seem to grasp THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUSPENDING THE LAW AND SUSPENDING DISCHARGES. Congress has been tepid about the [DADT repeal] Military Readiness Enhancement Act and the leadership has made clear that movement on this issue is unlikely any time soon. IN THE MEANTIME, CAREERS ARE DESTROYED AND OUR NATIONAL SECURITY IS WEAKENED, WHICH BOTH GIVE A SENSE OF URGENCY TO THE NEED TO HALT DISCHARGES.

    While many people in our community have done heroic work in educating Congress about the need for repeal, the focus on Congressional lobbying need not preclude other avenues to a swift end to the discharges of gay and lesbian troops, including IMMEDIATE EXECUTIVE ACTION. Indeed, there is a strong case to be made that AN EXECUTIVE ORDER WOULD MAKE IT EASIER, NOT HARDER, to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law when Congress is ready to do so, because opponents will no longer be able to argue that discrimination is necessary for preserving military readiness and unit cohesion.

    Again, the authors of our study are among the most respected experts on military law in our community. They simply do not do sloppy work. Reasonable arguments can be invoked on both sides of the question of whether the president has authority to—and should sign an executive order, but THE ARGUMENTS PRESENTED SO FAR ARE WITHOUT MERIT.


  • M Shane

    HRC is very like the Right wing government in lacking any transparency., so wjho knows. i think that we wouill be a lot better off if Gaty Liberation is reinstituted. I see that a lot of valuable time and energy is being expensively put into the unreasonable, and not so indicative of rights as DADT and ENDA: i.e.marriage. If we stayed out of religion tinged issues and ran a campaign based of Constitutionally clear rights, we would be %200 ahead.

    Civil Unions could happen, they have a going record in Europe. This takes the power out of anything which is straightforward, like employment rights, which we do not have in the best of places. DADT is a little different than Employment rights due to military peoples understandable questions about sending otherwise alienated soldiers to battle. It doesn’t matter at employment .

    So other than the fact that the elements of the gay community are holding everything up with the “marriage issue” and confusing rights with fetishes, We can expect reasonable things to happen in time.

    Throwing a big temper tantrum as we throw everything at a president who has to repair a severely wounded country and expect everything to happen at once is follishness.

    I have not been happy with the slickness of HRC. and thier tendancy to take the comfortable route has been unsatisfying. I don’t think that even if Solomnese did say “you don’t have to handle everything at once for us ” is not unreasonable because we have made the course more difficult.

  • GPW

    Joe Solmonese should be FIRED!

  • Jason Knight

    @JP: Well Said

  • Been Around

    If you read the stories and listen to the people involved, I think it’s pretty clear that HRC signed on to a deal in which DADT repeal would wait until the second year of the Obama administration.

    Whether HRC suggested it or whether they accepted it is another issue. Having spent a number of years in Washington political circles, I suspect more the latter than the former. I suspect that they were told that Obama would focus on the crisis issues, i.e., the financial meltdown, the wars, the Middle East, and health care, and not use political capital on divisive issues.

    We’ve seen this in areas other than DADT. Look at the refusal to prosecute the torturers. It sticks in my craw in a major way, but the rationale is clear: Don’t pick big fights over peripheral issues. You might say torture isn’t peripheral, or that DADT isn’t peripheral, but in the larger scheme of things they ARE peripheral. The economy is on fire, and the wars are on fire. First things first.

    The problem with all of that, though, is that Year 2 of the Obama administration will be 2010, the off-year elections year. Congressional approval of a DADT repeal will be difficult to pass that year, so I can easily see it being shoved off into Year 3. So, what do you do in the meantime?

    To me, the answer is a stop-loss order. It’s not only do-able, but it would be a good on-ramp to repeal. Obama could do the stop-loss and then later point to the experience and say, “See? It worked. Now we can change the law.” Remember, DADT isn’t a policy, it is a law. Obama can override its implementation, but he cannot repeal the law. Congress has to do that, and you don’t snap your fingers and expect Congress to act. It takes time.

    I think HRC is playing insider baseball with all the attendant dangers of co-optation, but I’m not inclined to form a circular firing squad just yet. What I definite do think HRC should be fighting much harder for is a stop-loss order to bridge the gap until repeal.

  • Kelly

    I understand the political arguments–it’s ineffective to push for stuff when there’s simply not going to be enough support, like a repeal of DOMA (for now, of course).

    But DADT is another case entirely. The political support for its repeal is overwhelming–something like 70% in recent polls. Let me say that again: The American people support, overwhelmingly, the end of DADT.

    If Cocktail Joe and his merry band of sycophants can’t push through a policy with this level of support, they should be fired. Period.

    And if President Obama doesn’t have the balls to fight even for this little bit of progress, he should no longer be considered a friend to the gay community.

    In conclusion, bring me the head of Joe Solomonese. (metaphorically, obviously)

  • Michael @

    @Been Around:

    “a stop-loss order … would be a good on-ramp to repeal.”

    Brilliantly imagined!

    Again, it took a while, and some being dragged kicking and screaming, but we now have TWO strategies on the table recognized by the majority of our community. And, contrary to the groundless, disingenuos claims to the contrary, they are mutally reinforcing. One can press for the stop-loss order from the President AND proceed with lobbying Congress for repeal at the earliest possible date.

    The lastest press release from the Palm Center:

    “Gay Rights Groups Unify Around New “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Plan

    HRC Joins Emerging Consensus that Obama Should Sign Executive Order

    Date: June 5, 2009

    SANTA BARBARA, CA, June 5, 2009 – The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights group in the country, has joined a growing number of other advocacy organizations calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order suspending “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    Asked by Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball last night whether he believes Obama has the authority to sign such an order and whether he should do so, HRC President Joe Solmonese said, “Yes he can and yes I do.” Matthews repeated the question, asking “Do you think he should?” Salmonese confirmed, “Yes I do.”

    Solmonese added that Obama should sign the executive order immediately to halt further firings like that of Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate who speaks Arabic. “The president has the opportunity to stop that from happening,” Solmonese said. “We’ve asked him to do that and pressed him to do that and hope that he will.” HRC is widely understood to be the most influential gay rights group in the nation, with high-level White House access and an expansive presence on Capitol Hill.

    The idea of ending the ban by executive order gained momentum after the release last month of a Palm Center study showing that the president has the authority to suspend “don’t ask, don’t tell” using his “stop-loss” authority. Until then, many had argued that only Congress or the courts could lift the ban.

    Dr. Nathaniel Frank said that the emerging consensus about an executive order reflects a significant change in the national conversation about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” including among gay groups. “There were reports that some of the larger gay groups were pushing Congress and the White House to delay lifting the ban in favor of other priorities,” said Frank, author of “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America,” and senior research fellow at the Palm Center. “With the White House on the defensive about ongoing discharges, HRC has called for an immediate executive order, reflecting a changed landscape.” ?

    Others calling for the President to sign an executive order include Knights Out, an organization of 400 straight and gay West Point graduates, former staff, faculty and allies, and Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean, who appeared on Hardball with Solmonese. Referring to the executive order proposal, Jean said, ‘Let’s stop drumming people out now’.”

  • JP

    @Jason Knight:

    Thank you, and thank you for your service, in and after the Navy.

    Now that Solmonese is on board for Stop-Loss, that pretty much just leaves SLDN.

    I see Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is wearing their lapel pin in his TV interviews. It must be very confusing for him after having gone to them for help to hear them say, “Well, we can send out petitions to the Air Force Secretary for ya. Won’t accomplish anything except get us a few more donations. What? Yeh, sorry we can’t go for that stop-loss thingy. You’ll just have to hope that by the time Congress gets around to repeal you’ll still be young enough to fly and can clock those two more years to qualify for your full pension. Ya need another lapel pin?”

  • Jason Knight

    @JP: Right? Besides the former staff, and the Law staff that is still there, doing a great job, I have been extremely disappointed in SLDN’s lack of focus. They continue to be pushed to the back burner, are falling more and more consistently behind, and all the while leaving our troops to the mercy of an antiquated policy. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Mark in Colorado

    There are so many vacuous “so-called” gays. So many bisexual denying faggots on this site it is blood tearing. By the way, the phrase “so-called” has a definition (i.e. Alec and Sam).
    HRC exists to make money. Period.
    Should we, and I write “we” in disbelief, get full and equal equality in our country (the United States), then where do we and these parasite organizations go from there?

  • TANK

    I flipped a coin, too. It came up heads. I guess he’s lying, huh?

  • Alec

    @TANK: Sorry. I’m only a “so-called” homosexual. I have no comment. Either/Or.

  • Steve

    HRC should be leading the cause, not resisting every effort. For ten years, at least, HRC has been dragged along kicking and screaming. HRC has opposed every actual effort toward equal rights by every actual gay person.

    I think HRC has become a money-gathering machine that exists for the sole purpose of paying executive salaries, furnishing posh offices, and throwing lavish parties.

    The fact that HRC has worked against repeal of DADT is the last straw. The press release of June 5 shows HRC being dragged by the hair, kicking and screaming, and only finally agreeing to a step the community was taking anyway, when there was no other alternative.

    Joe Salmonese should be fired, not for the June 5 release, but because that step was not done ten years ago. There are dozens of state-level leaders who could step in and be up to speed very quickly. Some of them might actually want to do the work.

  • synnerman

    I think Salmonese understands that when the electorate is aware that the things that are needed to make the nation function are taken care of, things that have not been necessary for the nation to funtion properly will come. Especially since putting gay marriage and DADT on the front line right as healthcare reform comes into play would be political SUICIDE.

    I think the people who don’t grok that just like losing all the time.

  • JP


    Stopping DADT is VERY MUCH “necessary for the nation to funtion [sic] properly.” NOW!

    People who don’t “grok” [quelle quaint] how detrimental discharges of gays with “mission critical” skills are to the nation’s SAFETY are merely grunting from the cave in which they live.

  • Been Around

    Having a lobbying presence in Washington is truly a double-edged sword. It is effective over the long haul, because you have a better chance of demystifying yourselves to the people who make the actual decisions. But the danger is of being co-opted.

    HRC shows both sides of it. I tend to think of them as a necessary evil in a way. I think this is the way that all lobbying clients, including the corporations that hire lobbyists, think of their lobbyists. They’d love to get rid of them, but realize that they’d be cutting off their noses to spite their faces if they did so.

    On DADT, I really think Obama and HRC are behind the curve. I just saw a poll yesterday showing that support for openly gay servicemembers is now in the high 60s, and that conservatives and weekly churchgoers are in the high 50s and 60%, respectively. I think this might be because straight servicemembers have had the conversation enough times with their families to move the needle.

    I really think that the way to go now is a two-stage process. First a stop-loss order, then change the law. People who advocate lifting the ban in one fell swoop are on the wrong track, in my opinion. I really think a stop-loss order would give the military time to come up with practical implementation.

    Along those lines, I hope that people understand that the military culture ain’t going to go in for flamboyant displays, so if you’re looking for gay servicemembers to be marching in uniform in Pride parades, I’d wait a while. Maybe a long while.

    As for Solomonese, I have never met the man. Only see him on TV, and he strikes me as a good spokesman for our tribe. But HRC needs to be pushing harder for a two-step process, starting with an immediate stop-loss order. I really think the country is ready for it, like it wasn’t back in 1993.

  • JP

    SLDN’s incompetence and BETRAYAL of its own clients and contributors grows more naked every day. Any alleged HRC delay in Congress pales next to SLDN’s effectively signaling the President NOT to stop discharges NOW!

    “When asked whether SLDN would be aware of a deal on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” if such an agreement had been made, (Kevin Nix, spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) replied, “I don’t know — so much is … said in this town, I mean, we can’t keep up with everything.”

    But Nix said SLDN didn’t think a moratorium preventing the further investigation of gay service members is the best route to end discharges. “The only permanent way of repealing the law is through Congress,” he said. (Well, DUH!)

    Instead of a stop-loss order, Nix said SLDN supports a presidential working group that would examine how repeal would be implemented and how a non-discrimination policy would function in the military.” – Washington Blade, June 5, 2009

    SHAME!!!!! TIME TO BOYCOTT SLDN!!!! Legal advise is available from others who wouldn’t betray them at the same time.

  • Been Around

    I am mystified by the SLDN’s apparent rejection of the stop-loss approach, but I can do without JP’s histrionics too.

  • Been Around

    Here is the poll showing majority conservative, Republican support for openly gay service members. In the past five years:

    Conservative support has gone from 46% to 58%

    Republican support from 52% to 58%

    Weekly churchgoers support from 49% to 60%

    Seems to me that both Obama and HRC should be a little less cautious.

  • M Shane

    I don’t know why gays, at this point should be that anxious to be part of the ongoing legacy of illegal wars that the U.S government has saddled the world with since WW2 (30 major ones in all since WW2.) Imperialism is the U.S.’s game. Maybe the gays should become involved in politics that reduces the Empire, before we are no more.

    Have you been hankering to go out and torture people?

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    Queerty is just so dumb.

    Everything is so black and white in your world.

  • Alec

    @M Shane: Yeah, and why do they want in on a sexist institution like marriage? Or protection from being fired in their cushy corporate jobs?

    And those gay men and lesbians already serving in the military, why are they afraid of being tossed out? Their closeted lives sound like a blast!

  • TANK


    Down with equality! It’s so boring and right, anyway.

  • JP

    @Been Around:

    “SLDN’s apparent rejection of the stop-loss approach”??

    You still doubt it somehow?

    “histrionics”? I’m sorry, Miss Muffet, but stopping DADT discharges is a more serious issue than spilling tea on your tuffet.

    @ M Shane: I’m sorry to spill tea on your tie-dyed t-shirt, Chong, but your pansynik naivete is killin’ me. Few in even our military “go out and torture people”

    There are bad cops, too, but try calling someone from Code Pink the next time you’re fag bashed or your car is stolen.

  • Jason Knight

    @M Shane: @Alec: I can understand why some people would be baffled that someone who happens to be gay or lesbian would join the military. But for many people, including myself, the military is an avenue to leave small towns of America, to take part in something larger than themselves, and to reap the benefits that they may not be able to get normally. Despite the views on the war, which I am against as well, the military is still an incredible institution to better oneself and remains one of the top employer of LGBT Americans. The point is that it should be available to people if they so choose. Which is why we need to get rid of DADT.

  • Alec

    @Jason Knight: My post was meant to be sarcastic. I wouldn’t join the military, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

  • jerrycarlin

    I always think Pee Wee Herman when I see and hear Joe Solmonese.

  • chadnnocal

    How do you know Joe Solmonese is lying? His mouth is moving.

  • Been Around

    JP, I’d like to hear more from SLDN on the issue. As for your self-righteousness, it’s boring.

  • AxelDC

    The fact that this story has legs and that HRC is on the defensive shows that HRC has lost a lot of credibility among gays.

    Where was HRC in Prop. 8? Has HRC been supporting gay couples suing for equal rights, and winning in states like Iowa? Where was HRC when DC made a huge step forward for marriage equality? After all, they have that huge building in DC now.

    I suspect they were too busy planning fundraisers for DC pride and inviting Ellen, Rosie and Martina to rub elbows with DC A-Listers. HRC thinks they are doing gays a favor by hobnobbing with Beltway Insiders, while the real work is being done at the grassroots across the country.

  • TANK

    HRC is a part of the beltway bubble? OMG! Say it ain’t so! Panic!

  • Cam

    @John: You said “”No. 17 · John
    Well, how about an upaid HRC defender? I think the problem we keep seeing is everyone taking a simplistic approach to passing our LGBT wishlist – assuming that by demanding things change they will happen. Congress, though, is a complicated, difficult body to work through any legislation – including LGBT legislation.

    From what I gather and have been told, HRC’s strategy is to prioritize legislation in order of its likelihood of passage. So, Hate Crimes (which has broad support and is the least controversial) is first up. The hope is to pass it with a big margin, which sets up the next pro-LGBT vote; presumably an inclusive ENDA. If Hate Crimes passes with big margins and not a lot of outcry from anti-gay folks, then the hope is that an inclusive ENDA will be easier to get through. DOMA and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” then probably come next.”

    Your post would make sense, if it weren’t for the fact that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell polls the highest of all of those causes. Over 3/4th’s of the electorate support the repeal of don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So it’s admirable for you to try to think the best of others, however, if going after the most popular route was their thought process it isn’t showing in their actions.

    Their reason is, as long as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA are on the books, there is a reason for HRC to exist. THere is federal laws written that single gays out and discriminate against us. If THOSE laws fall all the others will tumble. HRC wouldn’t want to be out of a job by letting that happen.

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