So What Happened At That White House DADT Meeting?

Crossposted on ZackFord Blogs.

Rainbow Flag

We know that yesterday, a whole bunch of leaders from the LGBT movement met at the White House regarding Don't Ask Don't Tell. We know that discussing the court cases was off the table for legal reasons, though Brian Bond's "there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting" email was a bit harsh. We also know that President Obama just happened to stop by to "convey his personal commitment."

So what really happened at the meeting? No one's talking, which is suspicious for a number of reasons. Chris Geidner reports:

A person outside the White House familiar with the meeting agenda told Metro Weekly that there were three main points the White House was looking to impress upon attendees: (1) President Obama was pushing for lame-duck Senate action, (2) there would would more meetings up to the vote and (3) executive options are not being looked at right now.

If this outside person's report is accurate, then the meeting was about nothing. If (1) President Obama plans to push for the Senate's repeal, should we hope that there aren't any more sports championship teams he needs to call when it counts? If (2) there will be more meetings, then what was the point of this one? And if (3) the President isn't willing to take any other action, then what's there even to talk about?

Pam Spaulding shares my sentiment:

No plan, no fallback plan either. Sound familiar? How many times can Lucy jerk the football away from Charlie Brown? DADT is alive and kicking, and it will be after the election — and in 2011. That means the President and HRC didn't deliver as promised. That is something no one will forget. The ineptitude and lack of a plan, as well as the gross use of the LGBT community is just plain sad.

But let's ponder the political implications of this meeting very closely, since it's the only option we have.

Now, we understand the meeting was off the record, but from what I can tell, no one within the movement is even discussing the meeting off the record. This leaves one to ponder what could have been so important from this meeting that nothing can be shared.

Let's say the meeting was really productive and that there's a brilliant new plan to ensure legislative repeal of DADT during the lame duck session. Great! What is it? Not to be condescending to anyone, but how are we going to push for it if we don't know what it is? Why be hush-hush about the meeting? As Pam noted in her post, Gibbs had nothing of substance to offer at the press briefing, none of the attendees have spoken out, and the White House hasn't made a peep. If there's some new effort, shouldn't we all be getting on board? What's the big secret?

Another possibility is that the meeting was crap, that it was all pandering and no substance. It was just another meeting to show the White House is "committed" to their own weak version of repeal. They wanted points for engaging with LGBT activists, and Obama's drop-in was pure PR. Then why the heck aren't our activists speaking out? If the meeting was a waste of time just for political antics, is there not one attendee who is willing to speak out and say so? Is the White House that insecure about the results of the election that they even convinced some Log Cabin Republicans to keep their mouths shut until we see where the chips fall next week? And everyone's just buying in that this lame duck legislative effort is realistic? Seems unlikely.

And maybe it was just a ploy to scare some Senators, a political exercise to say to Senators on the fence: "Look, the President, himself, is meeting with gay rights activists." Would that really work? Would that really make a difference? I simply can't imagine everyone at the meeting signing on to such sophomoric antics. Besides, as far as Obama's street cred with the LGBT community goes, it's a bit late for one little meeting drop-in to fool anybody (ally or opponent) into believing that he's really the committed ally he claims to be in all his rhetoric.

There is at least one more possibility. It could be that the meeting was at least mildly productive or worthwhile, but President Obama made it clear we do it his way or no way. In other words, our fierce advocate is having such an ego trip about being the one to repeal DADT that he is actually bullying our movement's leaders on this issue into complying with his strategy. Maybe there was an ultimatum given regarding how much time and effort the White House would be willing to offer and the terms included complete confidentiality about the all-too-public meeting. Is the White House bullying us about achieving our own equality? Are we being coerced into complying with their strategy with the alternative of being left out to dry (as if we weren't already)?

Any of these outcomes (or maybe others) is possible with the limited info we currently have. With no one willing to speak out, we're left with only the politics of the meeting to speculate. (And if we're not supposed to even be speculating, someone needs to send me a memo explaining why.)

Given that the President's drop-in certainly speaks to political points for the White House, we deserve answers. Should we be praising the Obama administration for new strategy and new enthusiasm, or should we be holding them accountable for playing the same old politics with our rights?

When do the discharges end? 

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Obama Stops in to Meeting with Gay Leaders on DADT

President Obama stopped by a meeting held today at the White House with representatives of the Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers United, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the University of California Santa Barbara's Palm Center, Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans, the Washington Post reports:

Obama "The president stopped by the meeting 'to directly convey to the participants his personal commitment on this issue,' a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity."

There was discussion of DADT elsewhere Tuesday at the White House as well:

The WaPo adds:

White House senior adviser David Axelrod defended the administration's decision to appeal the case during an online video chat Tuesday. 'It is the custom of the U.S. government to appeal laws of Congress that were challenged in lower courts,' Axelrod said during the chat, arranged by the White House. 'It should be by no means read as an abandonment of a commitment, and we intend to keep it.'"

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also addressed the issue at today's press briefing, reaffirming the President's desire to see the Senate vote on the measure.

When asked if Obama had reached out to individual Senators in order to change "no" votes to "yes", Gibbs replied:

"To my knowledge, it hasn’t taken place yet.  But, look, the only way we’re going to get something through the Senate is to change the vote count and to move past — look, you got to get — you’re going to have to get past a promised filibuster and — in moving to the bill.  And certainly the only way we can move to that bill is to change some of those votes."

Gibbs also declined to say whether the President would issue a stop-loss order should the legislation fail to pass:

"I think that — look, you’ve seen steps that have been taken over the past several days at the Pentagon involving service secretaries.  You have for — you have a sitting chair of the Joint Chiefs that believes it’s time for this law to end; the President working closely with the Secretary to make that happen. And our efforts in the short term will be focused on the durable repeal of a law that the President thinks is unjust, and that’s where our focus will be."

Press briefing clip, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Obama Came To The DADT Meeting

The Advocate reports that President Obama stopped by today’s White House strategy meeting held with advocates for the repeal of DADT.

“The President stopped by to directly convey to the participants his personal commitment on this issue,” said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The official declined to give any further details on the duration of the president’s stay or the content of the meeting, but an email earlier in the day indicated participants would be focused soley on strategizing about passing legislation during the lame duck session.

As noted in the update to an earlier JMG post about the meeting, White House LGBT liaison Brian Bond had warned participants that they were not to bring up pending DADT-related court cases, otherwise the meeting would be ended – a caution that was later explained as legally necessary with both White House counsel and case litigants in the same room.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Gay Vets Seek Meeting with WH Advisor

valerie jarrett2Servicemembers United has called for a meeting with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett on “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal prior to her attending Saturday’s Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington, D.C.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week meeting coming up

The Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Committee will be meeting this coming Sunday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. at Best Friends, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave., in Fort Worth.

The meeting is open to committee members, organizational leaders, charity titleholders and guests.

Topics include choosing a theme and logo for TCGPW 2010, changes in the rules and regulations, committee groups and chairs and long-range committees for the parade and picnic.

So if you are interested in helping map the future of gay Pride events in Tarrant County, be sure to attend the meeting.

—  admin