Guest Blogger

HRC deflects again - blames Congress, not President, for DADT quagmire

Filed By Guest Blogger | February 16, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: blogswarm, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, John Aravosis, President Obama

Editors' Note: Guest blogger John Aravosis is the founder and publisher of AMERICAblog and AMERICAblog Gay. John is the main organizer of today's blogswarm urging HRC to take a firm stand with the President about repealing DADT this year.

It's exactly as we said, HRC seems genetically incapable of ever challenging President Obama on anything. They simply parrot the Obama line - the President is supposedly powerless, you know, to influence legislation - and think that what's best for Barack Obama is best for gay America. Well, sometimes it's not. Sometimes you actually have to challenge the President. Sometime you have to recognize that the President of the United States of America actually has some political capital at his disposal - especially on an issue involving the military when he's the commander in chief.

HRC today, via one of its local affiliates, responded to today's DADT blog swarm, launched by top blogs in the gay and non-gay blogosphere, by yet again defending the President and deflecting the blame to Congress for the inaction on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.'

Was HRC in a coma last year? Did they not witness the melt down on health care reform that occurred because the White House refused to lead on a key campaign promise, but instead sat back and "waited for congress" to act?

Yes, by all means, do what HRC says and call Congress. Congress does need to pass the DADT repeal, and they do need to feel pressure. But I worked in the Senate, for five years, and I can tell you as a fact that Congress won't touch the repeal until the President tells them what he wants. This is what Joe Sudbay and I are being told when we call offices on Capitol Hill. No one knows what the President wants. Does he want DADT repealed this year, next year, during the next administration (if there is one)? No one knows, because the President likes to issue vague statements of support for repeal, then disappear into the background when people ask him "when?"

We've all learned all too well, and painfully, that when the President doesn't lead, Congress doesn't follow. HRC should stop treating Barack Obama as their boyfriend, and start treating him as a politician who isn't keeping his promises.

It's telling that we're asking you to contact HRC today to put pressure on the president, and the response we get from HRC is a refusal to put pressure on the president. It's, sadly, just as we predicted. (And note to HRC: It's not just LGBT bloggers, the straight bloggers are part of our swarm as well, including DailyKos and


Publicly demand that President Obama take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.

1) That means the President needs to state publicly that he wants Congress to repeal DADT this year; and

2) The President needs to take the lead in working with Congress to make sure the repeal happens.

If you're a member or donor to HRC, tell them, and ask to speak to Members Services:

HRC Front Desk: (202) 628-4160
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777-4723

HRC Web site comment page.
General membership email at hrc: [email protected]

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This is almost certifiable insanity:

LGBT Blogs are LOBBYING us to LOBBY the Human Rights Campaign so they'll LOBBY the President and then he'll LOBBY the Congress.

LOBBYING doesn't work for LGBT issues. They are NOT negotiable. The positions of our US Senators are based on the beliefs of their constituents - you know, the people that elect them. So, simple logic would suggest we really need to lobby people in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas ...

I would say that Senators act on their "supposed" beliefs of their constituents and not the actual beliefs of them. If the Senator are bigots (insert the two Senators from Georgia,) then they only listen to the bigots in their state, regardless of how many of them they are.

No, Monica. They actually poll them. 72% of the population of Georgia is anti-gay.

It would have been nice to have posted a link to that poll.

I agree with part of that: HRC doesn't listen to this sort of lobbying. They're not a small-d democratic organization, they represent their donors, and they have no responsibility to the rest of us.

And I agree that, should they call on Obama for DADT repeal, that won't change all that much. Obama couldn't be bothered to lobby Congress for health care, and his political future depends on that. This... eh.

But I'm not going to stand in the way of other people who want to try something, something that expresses the high level of frustration many of us have with LGBT org world, the Democrats, the gov't, etc. More power to these bloggers if they think this will accomplish something.

Save me Jeebus! Chaka Khan? Big daddy JoSo?

Really - have people call & visit Senators & Congressfolk - this is just silly.

The only possible thing of value that could come of this is if it was part of a larger strategy to open up the HRC board to more activists. But there never was a baby in this bathwater. Flush it.

That's a very honest comment Alex.

At some point we have to acknowledge we're banging our heads against a wall and that isn't healthy or productive. Inside those same heads are ideas and strategies and we need them. More of the same isn't good enough.

Several dozen people have stopped lobbying, demanding and expressing anger/frustration and they're actually trying to figure out how to win. It will lead to a solution.

I agree with you that the intent of this action was honorable, but I would rather we focused attention and energy on solutions, not tried-and-untrue tactics of a bygone era. It's 2010 and we can do better, much better.

Anyone who has an idea or strategy to win our equality can participate. And, yes - I'll pay.

If I were a paranoid type, I'd think you were a shill for the fundies, instead of just terribly misguided.

But you are the paranoid type.

You're afraid Sarah Palin is going to become our next President. It would be much better if you simply laughed at her, instead of promoting her with your paranoia.

You must have HUGE kidneys! You keep trying to dismiss on all the blogs where you've raised your leg to piss on this coordinated action the fact that the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Acts would never have passed in Congresses permeated with racist Senators and Congressment representing racist constituents as being irrelevant because the Acts didn't involve LGBT issues. But it DOES speak to your assertion that representatives will never go against their constituencies when effectively led to by the Executive Branch. Or are you suggesting that the level of homophobia today is equal to the level of racism then?

Further, you've apparently not been paying attention to what Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin has been saying in the past two weeks about fewer votes needed to pass repeal through the defense authorization bill.

EVIDENCE of successful "lobbying on LGBT-related issues" INCLUDING IN CONGRESS:

Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's hiring of dozens of out gay government employees at every significant level this side of the Cabinet: federal judges, US Ambassador, Consul General, "that damn lesbian" Asst. Secretary of HUD, OPM Director, Chairman & President of the US Export-Import Bank, et al.

Passage by Congress of the Ryan White CARE Act [seen as a "gay issue" for politically it was]

Passage by Congress of PEPFAR. [ditto]

Congress voting to lift the HIV travel ban. [ditto]

Clinton's Executive Order reversing Eishenhower's nearly half-century old ban on gay federal civilian employees.

Clinton's Executive Order adding a hate crimes enhancement to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Clinton's Executive Order banning denying federal security clearances solely because one is gay.

Clinton's adding gays to those categories of people who can be considered for political asylum.

Presidential proclamations by both Obama & Clinton of Gay Pride Month.

Obama's extension of some benefits to partners of State Department employees.

The defeat TWICE in Congress of a bill to amend the US Constitution to ban marriage equality.

Passage of the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Bill.

Advance of the ENDA bill.

The first time a President, Secretary of Defense, and Chair of the Joint Chiefs have expressed support for repeal of DADT.

Ya think any of these things came about, as far as we still have to go, because Baby Jebus appeared to those involved in a dream?

You're not leading; you're not even following. So why are you trying to get in the way offering only the weak excuse of undefined alternatives.

We can all make cut-n-paste lists of LGBT progress, but that isn't EVIDENCE that lobbying works.

Find a politician that changed their mind about an LGBT issue BECAUSE of lobbying efforts. Just one will do. But, since you seem so convinced that lobbying works, make another list.

Then, PLEASE point your effective lobbying efforts at the 50 US Senators that are anti-LGBT. Tell us how many calls and emails we need to complete in order to change their minds and we'll get busy.

There is no "political solution" to LGBT equality and lobbying is not effective. Both only provide false hope, that simply leads to even more frustration.

Okay Andrew since you are being so negative, what is your solution or suggestion? Stop telling us what does not work or we should not do and tell us what we should do? Sit on our hands and hope?? Get real! Stop telling people not to do things that could help!

Why would HRC bother to listen to you guys? They don't hold bloggers in anything close to high regard. I understand that bloggers hold a huge influence and I CONSTANTLY tell that to Dem politicians in my home state, and they listen. HRC will cease to have a point when bloggers and average people have a voice. That makes you guys the enemy. I am sure that the HRC lobbysists are telling the President's people that bloggers are know nothings and they should just be ignored. If the White House ever looks behind the curtain, they'll find out that Gay Inc. is totally useless.

Do you really think they're going to help you pull back the curtain?

Having said all that, a lot of the people signing on to this action are folks I really respect and know have your hearts in the right place (Mixner and you Bill), so, Godspeed to you all!

Good luck!

I think you'd be surprised how much HRC is paying attention to the blogs and grassroots activists these days. They know the writing is on the wall if they don't...