This is, admittedly, kind of strange. From Politico, this morning:
Two gay troops’ groups will announce today that they’d support breaking off DADT repeal if doing so would help the defense authorization act pass – but they’ll keep pushing for repeal in the lame-duck Congress, Morning Defense has learned. The statement from OutServe and Knights Out is just one prong in a complex offensive planned for lawmakers’ return to Washington this week, organizers said.
“On behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is included,” the statement will say. “To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban.”
Meanwhile, Servicemembers United responded:
It has been the position of the organizations that actually work on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to strongly oppose stripping the repeal language out of the defense authorization bill. That position has been based on the reality of the vote count, and those facts on the ground here in Washington have not changed. Servicemembers United, which is the nation’s largest gay troop and veteran group by far, strongly agrees with the White House that stripping DADT out of NDAA is simply a non-starter.
Then three other groups echoed SU’s sentiments:
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Servicemember Legal Defense Network (SLDN), Servicemembers United (SU) and the Center for American Progress (CAP), today united to send one strong and consistent message to senators as they return for the lame duck session: repeal the unjust and discriminatory law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this year. Under no conditions should DADT repeal be stripped from the underlying Defense Authorization bill; that is simply a non-starter.
Here’s what I take from this: I have no doubts that there is strategy on both sides, and as active-duty military groups, Knights Out and OutServe probably are looking at things a bit differently, but this is what I’m talking about when I say that part of the problem over the past several years has been that the gay community is not lobbying with one voice, and that makes us weaker. Whatever strategies and individual perspectives are in play here, it makes us look disorganized, weak and powerless when the major players involved in fighting for LGBT equality don’t even seem to be in the same chapter, much less on the same page.
Many thanks to Pam Spaulding for compiling all of these press releases into one handy post. She’s got more over at the Blend too.