It takes a lot to get me upset lately - I'm so used to reading tons of bulls*** from wingnuts and vapid rhetoric from conservatives. But this story from the Politico achieved in riling me up.
Politico reports that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin prefers a "go-slow" strategy to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) because the Senate is swamped and the lead sponsor, Sen. Ted Kennedy, has died. Plus, there's no Republican co-sponsors. (Shocking!) On top of that, President Obama isn't pushing for action, so why should they work at it?
“We have a very heavy, busy agenda and a few months left to do it,” Durbin told Politico. “So it may not be now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be soon.”
Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, a lead opponent of DADT in the House, believes a repeal has better chances next year, but others don't share his view because Congress faces elections in 2010, and they don't want to piss off their conservative supporters.
Other members of Congress are deferring to the Pentagon, waiting to hear back on a drawn out internal review of the policy.
So I'm pissed.
First, I'm appalled that they use Kennedy's death as an excuse for not getting any work on a repeal done. Kennedy, who was a leading LGBT advocate and did amazing work, had been out of commission for almost a year! They knew full well that if any work was to be done, they would have to do it themselves. But instead, they point to a man who can't defend himself to excuse their incompetence.
Second, they don't want to piss off their conservative supporters?! A recent and widely read Gallup Poll showed that a majority of Americans support repealing DADT. Even more telling, a majority of weekly church goers support repealing DADT!
Politico reports, "Rea Carey, executive director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said with the 2010 midterm elections drawing nearer, lawmakers shouldn’t shy away from the battle because when public officials stand up for people in a country who are affected by discrimination, it tends to benefit them.'
"But she added: 'Elected officials always look towards the elections; we feel that is all the more critical to get this done in Congress soon.'"
So the only conclusion I can reach is that members of Congress are more concerned about an imaginary fear of pissing conservative constituents off by repealing DADT (while we're fighting two wars) in their hopes of keeping their jobs instead of doing what is right. But in this case, doing what is right is supported by a majority. So where's the logic?
Yet this is nothing new. We're used to being promised a lot by Congress only for those promises to be broken with illogical and empty excuses. We're also used to broken promises because many in Congress cower to the conservative base. We are a minority after all.
Some say there's always 2011. But nope. That's when Obama will be in reelection mode. And if he's not willing to push for DADT's repeal now, he'll definitely not be willing then.
But I want to leave on a positive note. Sen. Karen Gillibrand plans to have the first public hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee on DADT this fall. We must stay vigilant and keep on top of our representatives, especially during the hearings, urging them to repeal the discriminatory policy. A hearing can make all the difference in the world.