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
with about 15 progressive journalists from outlets such as
, The Huffington Post,
, Americablog, and PageOneQ.
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
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
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
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. "
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
"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."