Don't holler, don't yell -- only at the president
President Obama flew out to California to help the sagging reelection effort of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and came face-to-face with frustration over efforts to repeal the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. He was interrupted a couple of times during his rah-rah for Boxer, in fact. Now, here's my frustration: These same protesters don't bother to interrupt fundraisers and other events for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). With Obama out, loud and proud in his support for repeal of "don't ask don't tell," those congressional leaders are the ones who hold the key to it actually happening. And they are content to let Obama take all the heat.
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq War vet, is leading the repeal effort in the House and is doing quite well. At last count, he had 191 co-sponsors and more than a dozen "yes" commitments, putting him within striking distance of outright passage. The Senate? A tougher battle awaits. Last month, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a repeal bill with 11 co-sponsors. All Democrats.
Hammering away at Obama on this issue is understandable. During the campaign, he promised to do away with the law that hurts the nation's military effectiveness. (I mean, how effective can the U.S. be in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the war on terror if it's booting desperately needed Arab linguists simply because of who they are?) But I must remind my gay brothers and sisters that Obama is not king. Don't ask don't tell is an act of Congress. And it will take Congress to permanently do away with it. Gay men and lesbians are right to hold Obama's feet to the fire on this. But by continuing to ignore Pelosi and Reid, not only are they giving them a pass the leaders don't deserve, they are also slowing down a resolution to an honorable cause.
| April 20, 2010; 7:46 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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