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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Is the Human Rights Campaign the Reason President Obama is Delaying Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

Daily Beast:



This report from the Daily Beast uses annonymous sources who state that Senator Chuck Schumer's office let slip that the Human Rights Campaign was asking them to delay work on DADT in favor of the Hate Crimes bill and ENDA.

Aaron Belkin from the Palm Center told Michelangelo Signorile on the record that:

"...Our major national gay rights organizations -- it would be one thing to say nothing, but there is pro-active lobbying on the hill for Congress not to consider [the "don't ask, don't tell"] issue. And so the community has been appalling on this issue.


Pam Spaulding comments:

Bellini's report is damning, and HRC's David Smith denies there was any such deal that the org would sit on its hands re: DADT. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, also interviewed in Jason's report, advocates going for the "easy to pass" legislation like hate crimes, that more education is needed on DADT. Honestly, this has been studied and polled to death -- this is a national security issue -- and that's why there is a call for an executive order instead of waiting for Congress to get a spine. As I told Mike yesterday, the problem HRC and the Obama administration have is the equality train has left the station, and both are looking incompetent and ill-prepared to do any kind of course correction to accommodate change that is occurring. In HRC's case, there is a real threat of irrelevancy because of outside efforts attuned to that change, which is what Mike suggests may be the reason for Joe Solmonese surfacing now.


HRC sent Pam Spaulding a response, denying the reports:

From Michael Cole of HRC:

"Senator Schumer has never said the White House didn't consider the repeal of 'Don't ask, Don't tell' a priority, and he never said the Human Rights Campaign struck some quote-unquote deal on this issue. Any rumors to the contrary are flat-out wrong."
--Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon
Also, here is our statement that we put out last night:

"This story is not only an outright lie, it is recklessly irresponsible. HRC never made such a deal and continues to work with congress and the administration on a full range of equality issues including a swift end to the military's shameful ban on gay servicemembers."
-- Brad Luna, Spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign

In response to Aaron Belkin's on-the-record corroboration of Bellini's report, Michael Cole said:
We have never lobbied either the White House or Congress and asked them to not consider moving forward on repealing "don't ask, don't tell". In fact, we have done quite the opposite. Even prior to the inauguration, we called on the White House to develop a plan to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and we are currently pushing Senate offices to try and secure introduction of a Senate bill.
Today I asked Aaron Belkin of The Palm Center for a comment on the above statements; he offered this, quite diplomatically:
I would say that it is very moving and powerful that HRC is now fully committed to immediate presidential action on the gays in the military issue. Until now, HRC's priorities have been Hate Crimes and ENDA first. They have not made a secret of that.


It's notable that Schumer's office's statement refers to Senator Schumer. There was no claim that Schumer stated that HRC was urging delay on repealing DADT, rather the claim in Bellini's report was that Schumer's office let this slip [see below].

More at Pam's House Blend.

From Pam's comments:

It's been clear for a long time now that HRC has been in the business of telling the Democratic Party to take their time on LGBT issues (to the extent that they acknowledge T at all), and that, in effect, "Don't worry, we can keep the community in line." HRC's apologists have always denied that, but I can't see that there can be much doubt left now. Let's hope that these reports get wide circulation, and we see the end of that poltroonish double-dealing on HRC's part. Or better yet, let's hope the community finally starts to simply ignore them and get on with strategies that work.


Update: A commenter corrects me:

KJ said...
Actually the report does say the Senator Schumer was the one that let it slip but that is office didn't respond. I think Schumer's comment along with Tammy Baldwin's comment stating that Congress decides which bills to put forward backs HRC a lot. Add Jones' comments that he is the one in the room with the President telling him not to move it forward and the President listened to him pretty much seals the deal. This report is another bogus attack on HRC.


I listened to the report again, and it did say that Schumer let it slip.

From the comments at the Daily Beast:

lapaul
Jason, the premise of your piece is flawed, in that in this country, right now, we do not have "gay leaders" who make deals with the White House. The HRC does indeed have some influence, but the head of the HRC is not a "gay leader." It is very odd that you would say "The Daily Beast has learned...," without attributing your information to a credible source. Learned from who? It is also odd that you would then include an audio comment form the head of the HRC absolutely disputing your claim. To give your piece credibility, you would need some good, reliable sources and you would need to name them. I certainly agree that this issue needs to be put on the fast track, but if you choose to report about them, you must make sure that you have indisputable facts and that your sources go on record.
Paul A. Greenberg
Journalism Professor - New Orleans, LA
| | |
(2)
4:30 pm, Jun 4, 2009
jbellini
Paul,
Thanks for watching the piece. I'd like to respond to your comment.
Robust journalism, particularly in Washington, is often forced to rely on anonymous sources.
As a general rule, one source is not enough. That's a rule I follow.
I pursued a lead beginning a few weeks ago, and in the course of my reporting found multiple, credible sources -- some of them working for members of Congress -- who insisted upon remaining anonymous.
As far as whether I properly characterized the head of HRC as a "gay leader", I'm confused as to why you'd have any issue with that.
I'm not looking to get into a debate or discussion on here, but I thought it important to address your questioning of my use of anonymous sources.
Thanks,
Jason Bellini

nwdc1602
Paul
I'm not a fan of having sources on [sic] the record, but I do get that that is unfortunately the way DC operates.

But the premise of the piece is that some gays want to put stop throwing gays out of the military now, while others think it should continue. What's Bellini's piece shows is that it is ironic is that a lesbian member of Congress is putting it off, while a straight member of Congress says do it now.

The proof of this story will be whether the ban is lifted this year. If not Bellini got it right and that's what journalists are supposed to do.

1 comments:

KJ said...

Actually the report does say the Senator Schumer was the one that let it slip but that is office didn't respond. I think Schumer's comment along with Tammy Baldwin's comment stating that Congress decides which bills to put forward backs HRC a lot. Add Jones' comments that he is the one in the room with the President telling him not to move it forward and the President listened to him pretty much seals the deal. This report is another bogus attack on HRC.