Strangely Familiar

Democrats in disarray may abandon gay issues once again

With the capture of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat — sorry, I mean the people of Massachusetts’ Senate seat — by Republican Scott Brown, Washington is in for a long winter of Democratic discontent, infighting and I-told-you-so’s.

Here’s mine.

It’s been nearly a year since I wrote a Metro Weekly feature asking why the repeal of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was being back-burnered by the Obama administration in a flurry of excuses that they had a full plate already.

”Just wait,” we were told.

Then, as the health-care reform debate roiled Washington, the November loss of Democratic governors in New Jersey and Virginia — along with Maine’s voter repeal of marriage equality — led to another round of Democratic leaders urging patience in the LGBT community. Repealing ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would happen, just give Congress the time to focus on these other issues and let the Hate Crimes legislation tide you over.

As I wrote in November in a blog screed:

”And now the Democratic Congress appears to be preparing to do exactly what I (and many others) said they would do: use the 2010 mid-term election cycle as an excuse to delay any action on LGBT legislation such as DADT repeal. Because we all know that the scariest thing in politics is to vote in favor of an issue that’s supported by two-thirds of the population. And then, after they survive the 2010 mid-terms, we’ll get the message that we have to wait until the 2012 presidential election is over and cross our fingers and hope for Obama to be re-elected. Oh, and don’t forget that the 2014 midterm elections will be an important part of setting up the Democrats for the 2016 presidential election, so, you know, no promises guys! But we’ll get to you people someday!”

So guess where we’re headed.

It seems that we can’t win for winning. We helped elect a Democratic president who pledged his fierce advocacy to our issues and has repeatedly claimed he would repeal ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We’ve given our money and votes to Democrats to help them build a majority in both houses of Congress. We’ve moved public opinion decisively in our favor to support ending the ban on gay and lesbian military service.

And yet, here they go again.

No matter how many times the Democratic Party sticks its finger in a light socket, eats the toxic paste or crashes the car without wearing a seatbelt, the solution ends up being the same: Tell the gays and their ”divisive” social issues to wait.

What happens in Congress on DADT repeal in the next few weeks will be telling about our relationship with the Democratic Party. And, lest anyone think I’ve forgotten about that other party, this filibuster-friendly atmosphere would be the time for gay Republican groups such as GOProud to prove that their support for conservatives such as Sen. Tom Coburn will create reciprocity.

Still, with Democratic pols preparing to barricade their backsides for the upcoming mid-term elections, the still nascent ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Give” movement to end campaign contributions to Dems until the party achieves movement on issues such as DADT and ENDA should be getting a lot more attention from all of us. If Democratic candidates decide that getting re-elected means ignoring the LGBT community, we should return the favor.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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