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Pelosi on DADT: We Want
to Win on This

Pelosi on DADT: We Want
to Win on This

During a Q&A with progressive journalists, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would bring repeal legislation to a vote when she had the votes, but she declined to give a timeline.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that "fully inclusive" employment nondiscrimination and hate-crimes legislation would be priorities for the House of Representatives and added that she would bring "don't ask, don't tell" repeal to a vote "when we think we can win it."

But the speaker stopped short of giving a timeline for repeal after specifically being asked whether the House would move on the legislation before the end of the year.

"We want to win on this. We want to get it done once and for all," she said. "So we'll have to create an atmosphere, create an environment in which we will win."

Pelosi made the comments during a nearly hour-long Q&A with about 15 progressive journalists from outlets such as The Nation , The Huffington Post, The Advocate , Americablog, and PageOneQ.

The congenial discussion mostly included questions about the economy, health care, energy policy, and political strategies for accomplishing the Democrats' agenda in the 111th Congress.

Pelosi hailed President Obama's accomplishments to date. "The recovery package passed in record time," she said, by way of historical comparison. "No president ever had his economic agenda, the recovery package passed in two and a half weeks from start to finish, or three weeks from start to finish, and of that substantial size."

She bemoaned the situation in Afghanistan after returning from a recent visit to the region. "The tragedy of Afghanistan is that for seven and a half years, we have missed the opportunity to finish off the job there," she said, noting that U.S. forces originally "routed" the Taliban and al-Qaeda in 2001 before attention was diverted to Iraq. "I used to call it a historic, catastrophic blunder. But really, a 'blunder' almost sounds unintentional," she said. "This was an intended mistake. I don't know if it was intended to be a mistake, but it was intentional and it was a mistake."

The only LGBT-related question came at the very end of the discussion when The Advocate asked, "A bill to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' was reintroduced. Given the mountain of research that shows that the policy has hurt military preparedness, and quite honestly, polling numbers off the charts that should inspire political courage, will you move on the bill before the end of the year?"

After saying that Democrats want "to win" on the issue of repeal, Pelosi referred to a number of outmoded policies toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community as "the tail of the tadpole -- they're remnant of another piece of evolution. They will be gone."

Pelosi added that when people refer to her as "tolerant" of gays because she is from San Francisco, she finds it offensive. " Tolerant to me is almost a condescending word," Speaker Pelosi said. "It's not about being tolerant, it's about being respectful, it's about taking pride."

Pelosi's full answer to the question on "don't ask, don't tell" follows:

"We want to win. We want to win on this. We want to get it done once and for all. We want to win on this. So we'll have to create an atmosphere, create an environment in which we will win. Some of that will be done outside, and as you correctly say, the public really understands and supports us on this issue. We have to make sure we have the votes. Ellen Tauscher, again, has taken the lead on this. Marty Meehan was our guy, and he's gone now. Ellen is but she's always worked on the issue. It's a priority for us, and we'll bring it to the floor when we think that we can win it. And also win it in the Senate. But we will, again, be working to create that atmosphere.

"Now I work with Barney [Frank] and Tammy Baldwin on these issues, and now we welcome Jared Polis to taking lead on some of these. Not that other members don't participate, but those members take special ownership of those issues. The priorities have been hate crimes and ENDA. Fully inclusive legislation in those two areas. So we'll have to have our strategy work around how we can have those passed, as well as move forward on the 'don't ask, don't tell,' which now, has become almost self-evident that the American people want us to have the best possible defense. Colin Powel, Sam Nunn, some of the people who might have before been allies at least [are now] saying that we should review the policy.

"Some of these things are the tail of the tadpole -- they're remnant of another piece of evolution. They will be gone. And thank you for your advocacy. I come from San Francisco. This isn't about . They say, 'It's easy for you -- you're so tolerant because you come from San Francisco.' I said, 'Tolerant to me is almost a condescending word. It's not about being tolerant, it's about being respectful, it's about taking pride.' They're on a different place on some of these issues, but they'll catch up, and we'll all be leading the way and taking pride."

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