We knew Barack Obama was going to toss of a few crumbs during his State of the Union. Which he did. But what’s most telling about Obama’s words wasn’t what they said — an empty promise to “work with Congress and our military” to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — but how Gay Inc. responded. You know, the organizations that have charged themselves with soliciting your donations in return for legislative action?
Let’s be clear: The president said absolutely. nothing. new. So it’s laughable that the Human Rights Campaign, in an email to supporters, called the news “breaking.” Also laughable: That HRC has a brand new, never before seen strategy to ensure legislative action. Pointing out its “new strategic campaign” only reminds us that HRC has, year after year, failed miserably.
In his State of the Union address just moments ago, President Obama pledged to work with the Congress and military this year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).
With the President’s leadership, now it is up to Congress to act. We’re rolling out a new strategic campaign to do exactly that – put an end to the discriminatory law that’s forced thousands of lesbian and gay members of the military to lie about who they are or face losing their jobs.
We’ve spent months designing a plan to pass legislation which repeals DADT. The plan will include organizing veterans across the country, generating media coverage in key markets and building focused campaigns in targeted states that will be critical to securing the final votes in the House and Senate.
And what does the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have to add? Here’s executive director Rea Carey with a muted, albeit non-complacent response:
While we know the State of the Union speech aims to present broad visions, the next time President Obama speaks to or about our community, he must provide a concrete blueprint for his leadership and action moving forward — this includes his willingness to stop the discharges happening on his watch until Congress can fulfill its responsibility to overturn the law. The time for broad statements is over. The time to get down to business is overdue. We wish we had heard him speak of concrete steps tonight.
Wait a second. Hasn’t Obama only delivered “broad statements”? And haven’t we already said he needs to show us his plan? And then need to issue “concrete steps”? Yes! Okay, NGLTF, then what are you going to do if Obama doesn’t do that? You don’t have a Plan B!
Moving on, Servicemembers United‘s exeutive director Alexander Nicholson chimed in:
Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies, lauded the President’s historic remarks regarding the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in this year’s State of the Union address.
“Tonight, President Obama stepped up to the plate and made a firm commitment to work to finally end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in 2010,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “Although brief, his language was plain, his message was clear, and the outline of his strategy was smart. This effort will indeed be a challenge for our community, and the resistance of those who support discrimination in our armed forces should not be underestimated. But one thing is now clear – a full assault on this failed law is under way by those who recognize that discrimination is not an American value.”
We are LOLing aloud here, because if Servicemembers United considers his speech “stepping up to the plate,” they’re in for another year of inaction and platitudes. How’s that working out for the gay and lesbian troops so far?
Over at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents folks who get tossed of the armed forces because of DADT, there’s more cheerleading going on:
We applaud the President tonight for his call to Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. We very much need a sense of urgency to get this done in 2010. We call on the President to repeal the archaic 1993 law in his defense budget currently now being drafted, that is probably the only and best moving bill where DADT can be killed this year. As Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sen. Gillibrand have made clear, this is the year to repeal the law. What is also needed is more attention and leadership to win repeal. The American public, including conservatives, is overwhelmingly with the commander in chief on this one.
Lambda Legal‘s chief Kevin Cathcart, meanwhile, rinses and repeats what everyone knows:
We have heard promises before about ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and we welcome the President’s statement tonight that the time has finally come to fulfill that promise. Very little has changed since Lambda Legal represented Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer 18 years ago after she was discharged for being a lesbian. Changing this discriminatory policy is long overdue.
And, almost not worth mentioning, except for the lunacy factor, is this one from Log Cabin Republicans spokesman Charles T. Moran:
President Obama is more concerned about protecting the rights of terrorists than he is about the rights of gay & lesbian Americans who are putting their lives on the line every day fighting to preserve peace & democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who operate small businesses that are the backbone of the American economy.
Is this really all we’ve got? With hundreds of millions of dollars in annual budgets, the reaction we’re getting from Gay Inc. on the president’s miserly comments — which he’s delivered before, to rounds of applause — is one of happiness? Applause? Lauding? He may want to be our ally, our buddy, but she’s shown us almost nothing to deserve that status.
A man among few, Richard Socarides — whose previous takedown of Obama on this very issue was soft-footed — had the balls to narrate the real situation we’re facing: “‘It’s great that the president is willing to renew his commitment to end the ban. But at this point, we need action and a timetable. Tonight we got neither.”
Yes, we’re pleased the president addressed DADT in his speech. (He did not address the many other discriminatory policies his administration currently defends, which these groups don’t appear to be mentioning.). But nothing in the SOTU, aimed specifically at LGBT Americans, was any more the the empty advocacy he’s made a habit of. And if Gay Inc. won’t demand action — or else — you can guarantee this process will be harder, longer, and more arduous than necessary.
(NB: This screenshot of the Joint Chiefs, as Obama issues his promise to repeal DADT, is priceless.)