Don't Ask, Don't Tell Opponents Pressure Congress

With Obama refusing to lead, liberals ask why Congress hasn't acted on repealing the policy

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Tens of thousands of people marched on Washington this weekend on behalf of gay rights, yet "don't ask, don't tell" still stands nine months into the presidency of the man who promised to end it. Liberal voices calling on President Obama to repeal the controversial policy have been nearing a fever pitch but have not forced progress. Could it be time for a strategy shift? Setting aside hopes that the White House will take action, liberals are asking if they should be pressuring Congress instead. "Don't ask, don't tell" was a legislative compromise, and any change to the policy would have to go through Congress anyway. This shift has made Democratic leaders Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi the new top targets of progressive outrage.

  • Congress 'Content to Site on the Sidelines' The Washington Post called out Pelosi and Reid in a staff editorial. "Frustration with Mr. Obama and the lack of progress in fulfilling his pledges on gay rights were evident at Sunday's National Equality March. But why is he the only target? Overturning 'don't ask, don't tell' and DOMA require legislation," they write, accusing Pelosi and Reid of sitting on the sidelines. "This can't continue. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid must exert the necessary leadership in their respective chambers to pass bills the president has promised to sign. Until then, they deserve as much criticism and blame as Mr. Obama for impeding the long march to equality."
  • Wrong to Pressure Obama Exclusively The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan agrees. "The president is not responsible for not legislating something; and everything the gay rights movement wants is a legislative act right now. So aim the pressure at the appropriate people. Why does Nancy Pelosi believe the US should still be firing soldiers solely because they're gay? Has anyone put her on the spot about that lately?"
  • Gay Lobby Should Learn From NRA John Cole points out the big influence of the gun rights group, whose tactics are quite different of gay rights groups that accuse Obama of betrayal and being worse than Bush. "I was talking to a friend via email, and he said, essentially, that the squeaky wheel gets the grease," writes the liberal blogger at Balloon Juice. "Look at the NRA. To which I can only respond, I never recall Wayne LaPierre going on television, or writing a story, or screaming from a blog, that Bush was 'just words' and 'worse than Clinton.' He would never do that, because he recognized that Bush was on the NRA's side on these issues. Instead, he and his establishment would lobby congress and spend money trying shape public opinion. A crazy idea, I know. There is a lesson here."
  • Reid Wants Action, Just Not From Him Greg Sargent thinks Reid wants DADT repealed, but that, like the White House, he's unwilling to lead the charge. "Recall that Reid sent a letter to Obama, asking him to show leadership on DADT and claiming that the time to move is Now. The White House counters that it's up to Congress. No one questions Reid's sincerity here, but this is starting to have the feel of a kabuki dance, in which each side is content to blame the other for failing to act."
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