DADT on the Line

Questions about the repeal of the military policy loom large in wake of Patrick Murphy's Election Day loss

by Chris Geidner
Published on November 4, 2010, 5:13pm | Comments

A senior fellow with the progressive Center for American Progress has said he couldn't think of "anyone else" who had the credibility to lead "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal efforts following Tuesday's loss of House DADT repeal champion Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.).

It's a sentiment a prominent Democratic strategist calls "dead wrong," but one that a CAP colleague says only "underscores the necessity" to repeal the military ban on out gay and lesbian servicemembers before the close of the year – and the 111th Congress.

That CAP senior fellow, Lawrence Korb, who supports DADT repeal, was reported as telling McClatchy Newspapers, "It's hard to think of a Democrat who wants to risk the wrath even though people support [repealing DADT]."

In the McClatchy report, which paraphrased him as saying no one had the credibility of Murphy on the issue, Korb concluded, "I don't think there is anyone else."

Winnie Stachelberg, a senior vice president at CAP, said she had not spoken with Korb about his comments but noted that he has been an outspoken and strong supporter of repeal.

"He knows that there are Democrats and Republicans who have credibility on this issue," she said. "If what he meant was that there wouldn't be anyone with credibility under a Speaker Boehner, that's another question."

The bottom line, though, she said, is that Korb's comment ''underscores the necessity to get this done now."

Steve Hildebrand – President Barack Obama's deputy national campaign manager during his White House run and now head of his own consulting firm, Hildebrand Strategies – has been critical of the pace of progress on LGBT issues, but, nonetheless, was at a loss about Korb's statement.

"Larry Korb is dead wrong that we aren't in a position to repeal DADT yet this year," Hildebrand, who is gay, told Metro Weekly via e-mail. "While we are sad to have lost Patrick Murphy's re-election, any Member of Congress can lead the repeal and do it successfully."

Stachelberg noted how that is true even across party lines.

"I think that one of the things we learned in a project we did with [pollster] Stan Greenberg at the end of 2009 – and Stan knows better than anyone else the partisan edge this once had – is his analysis that this is no longer a good wedge issue.

"This wasn't an issue in the elections," she said, pointing to a column by The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart about the losses of Murphy and anti-repeal Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). "Skelton said one person raised this with him, and it wasn't an issue in Murphy's race.

"Murphy's loss was enormous – but I think there are, as we look to trying to get this done in lame duck – there is Congressman Murphy and there are many others who are looking to get this to be pushed through."