If you look at the greater landscape of centrist-to-progressive
legislation, LGBT agenda items that activists are pushing for this year — like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, partner benefits for federal workers, and repeal of “don’t ask, don’t
tell” — have fallen into the same black hole that most everything else

A combination of the administration’s passive approach to
guiding the legislative process and health reform sucking up all
the air in the room has left a trail of flailing legislative efforts in its

As for the lack of movement on LGBT bills, the same Hill
insider added, “It’s more a problem of competence than political
malice,” a conclusion many progressive political operatives have been

But even though the administration isn’t solely to blame for the
inertia, what we do know is that an extra nudge from the White House can
put pro-equality legislation on the front burner. It’s no secret that
the hate-crimes measure started to move in the Senate last year after President
Obama placed a personal call to Majority Leader Harry Reid.

certainly the State of the Union mention put some wheels on a stalled
“don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal effort.

But just as the White House
has pushed other legislation into the forefront only to back away and
watch the congressional fireworks from afar, so it seems to be with
ending the military’s gay ban.

As Rep. Barney Frank told me
Friday, “I’m disappointed with the administration talking about delaying
legislation for a year. But I’m working with Patrick Murphy [the lead sponsor of the House repeal bill] on it and
I’m hoping we can push ahead.”

Like many pro-repeal advocates,
Frank has consistently pinpointed the National Defense Authorization Act
as “the only vehicle” for overturning the ban legislatively. When I
noted that the White House has failed to designate the defense
authorization bill over a stand-alone bill as its preferred method for
repealing the policy, Frank responded, “That’s because they don’t want
it done this year, not because they want it done separately.” (UPDATE: Frank revised this quote Monday, urging the White House to "make clear that it supports legislative action this year.")

Frank is correct, that would help clarify two things: (1) why administration
officials declined to comment on the introduction of Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s new repeal bill —
because they actually prefer the defense authorization act over a stand-alone bill; (2) why
they haven’t advocated for a repeal measure to be included in this
year’s authorization act — because they would prefer the issue recede into the shadows until next

Tags: World