We never thought we’d say it, but we’re starting to like this Clay Aiken character. At the Human Rights Campaign’s Carolinas dinner — where folks get dressed up to applaud at people who take the podium — Aiken brought up the whole “What took me so long to come out?” question.

This just might be Aiken’s entry into what becomes a long journey of public activism. If we’re to believe his story, Aiken didn’t take tips from HRC’s speechwriter, which means all of these applause lines are his own. He even snuck in a few digs, but no, none at our current leaders. Which is fine. Clay is just getting the swing of this.

And then along came Joe Solmonese, who wanted everyone to applaud not what we haven’t accomplished (basically, everything), but what the past year has brought us (basically, more than any other presidential administration). This is fine. It was a night of celebrations, and it’s worthwhile to point out what has been achieved. What’s questionable, then, is how much HRC was involved with any of them.

But Joe’s most notable moment came with this singular bold statement: “This year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as DADT.” That is some heavy freakin’ lifting. And, by most accounts from The Hill, impossible. The Pentagon, White House, and even the gays in Congress don’t think that’s reasonable. And those guys in the Senate? This would make them laugh.

But Joe says it will be done. He’s always claimed to have insider access to the political maneuverings of Washington, so we should trust him, right? Then, if DADT is not repealed this year, is Joe a liar? Of course not. He can’t predict the future. But he just staked his leadership of HRC, and his legacy, on these very words.

Because for someone who criticizes President Barack Obama for making grand, empty statements with little follow up, it’s Solmonese who volunteered to put himself on the line to make good on his word. Judging by Solmonese’s own road map to equality, it’s hard to believe even he thinks it’s doable.

(Pam’s House Blend has more video from the evening, including Meredith Baxter’s speech.)

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