View From Washington: DADT 2010?

COMMENTARY: Even as President Bill Clinton begins to open up on LGBT issues, the question becomes whether LGBT rights can compete with health and immigration reform.

BY Kerry Eleveld

August 17 2009 12:00 AM ET

The point is, this is an administration with big priorities and August is offering us a glimpse of just how contentious these issues are and how far certain interest groups will go to get their way. It's getting harder every day to imagine how an administration that hasn't even granted an interview to an LGBT news outlet is going to find time alongside immigration to end "don't ask, don't tell."

As Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America , told me, "I understand when people counsel patience because if the White House had done 'don't ask, don't tell' first, it might have looked like their priorities were out of whack. But this political debate around health care is a sobering reminder that there's always something else that's going to be an excuse for not doing the right thing."

In our magazine's September cover story , Marsha Scott, President Clinton's first liaison to the LGBT community, offered this observation about Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: "Rahm can never stop thinking about winning elections. Rahm is good at governing effectively, but he's not good on social justice issues. Rahm's goal is to not lose one seat in Congress at midterms."

Emanuel and other White House advisers clearly believe that successfully brokering immigration reform will carry the benefit of endearing Democrats to the fastest-growing voting population in the nation. As for ending "don't ask, don't tell," let's just say this: There's little if any evidence they see a political upside to taking on an issue that polls at 75% support for repeal and continues to compromise our national security.

Tags: Politics

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