Thursday, December 23, 2010

Video: Celebrate DADT Repeal, But Heed the Lesson

A listener from Oklahoma called in to the show to say that, in the end, it was right that DADT was repealed in Congress, which he said was the president's plan all along and thus the calls by activists for President Obama not to appeal Circuit Court Judge Virginia Phillips' ruling on DADT were wrong.

I took the opportunity to discuss why, though this is a big victory for the President , it only happened because of those activists -- including grass roots activists and bloggers - putting the pressure on (I've posted a video from the segment below). Even Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Senator Levin, just a week before the vote, was pointing to the president's foot-dragging, about which the Human Rights Campaign, throughout the year, was refusing to criticize the White House.

In the end, through a series of fateful events -- from Harry Reid pulling the government spending bill, clearing the schedule, to Senators Lieberman and Collins creating a stand-alone bill -- "don't ask, don't tell" repeal passed. In addition to fate and timing, it was because DADT repeal took on a life of it's own thanks to activists' relentless pressure, disrupting the president's events, protesting Congressional leaders. It's not a coincidence that other promises made by the president, where there was much less pressure from the left early on, didn't pan out. And that's the lesson of the DADT repeal saga for the LGBT movement and for all progressives.