there will be a price to pay for slow-walking repeal. If the Obama
administration thought it could just throw out a line in the State of
the Union and then leave the blood and guts of the legislative battle to
Congress, it’s in for an eye-opening experience. And if they take a
year, as they did with health reform, to fully commit to the fight, the
political fallout will be much greater and much messier than if they make a
concerted push right now.

Barney Frank seems to know this all
too well, and over the course of the last couple months he has all but
begged the White House to show some leadership — first saying that the
administration had been “muddled” in its direction to Congress, then
actually calling on the White House “to make clear that it supports
legislative action this year,” and finally last week charging that the
White House is “ducking” the issue and “letting Gates be the spokesman,
which is a great mistake.”

And second, the
LGBT movement is at a tipping point of sorts, where as the level of
acceptance starts to outweigh discrimination people who are homophobic will take their
marbles and go home. In so many words, Conway’s point was that if the
gays ruin it for everyone, then all Marines will have to bunk alone in
order to accommodate them.

It’s not much different from the
Mississippi high school board members who canceled the entire school’s
prom just to prevent two lesbians from attending, or the D.C. Catholic
Charities that terminated spousal health benefits altogether so the
organization would not have to provide them to same-sex spouses. And
it’s sadly reminiscent of the dark days in the early '60s when instead of
racially integrating, some public accommodations like pools were converted to
private membership while others simply shut down.

President Obama is on a roll of sorts after his health care win last week.
His victory lap included the announcement of a nuclear arms treaty with
Russia, 15 recess appointments on Friday, and a surprise trip to
Afghanistan to greet the troops over the weekend. Now’s as good a time
as any for him to take a clear stand on a legislative timeline for repeal.

The White House may fear acting too boldly on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but the president’s silence is already beginning to exact a political cost as the floodgates of dissent push open.

Tags: Commentary