A gay service members advocacy group is calling on White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett to meet with proponents of "don't ask, don't tell" repeal prior to her appearance at the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner on Saturday in Washington, D.C.
HRC president Joe Solmonese in a Friday release called Jarrett's attendance "a tremendous addition to the event. ... She and President Obama both care deeply about equality and are strong supporters of those of us fighting for LGBT rights."
But Servicemembers United executive director Alex Nicholson, a vocal critic of HRC's involvement with DADT repeal, took issue with that characterization.
"We certainly do not feel like the White House is a 'strong supporter' of gay and lesbian troops and veterans right now," Nicholson said in a Friday afternoon statement. "To ignore the reality of the administration's choices, a reality manifested in our daily lives, while appearing at a party hosted by an organization that has given cover to this administration would be incredibly insulting."
Fred Sainz, HRC's vice president of communications, issued a strongly worded response on Saturday.
"These latest hijinks by Nicholson are part of a troubling pattern of irrational, unprofessional, and unproductive behavior," Sainz said. "[Nicholson's] rant is also without substance. The Administration helped to craft the legislation that was successfully voted on by the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee. Never before has a Defense Secretary or a Joint Chiefs chairman publicly supported repeal. This president got them there, and for that, he deserves our gratitude."
Sainz added that the target of ire "should be Senate Republicans who will no doubt once again try to scuttle this issue during the lame duck session."
Update: Nicholson responded to HRC's statement on Saturday: "When the spokesperson for the largest gay organization stoops to vicious personal attacks against committed, unpaid staff of the smallest gay organization, you know there's a problem with the former," he said. "While I have more professionalism, rationality, and class than to return the favor and attack Sainz personally, I think this official 'response' from the Human Rights Campaign speaks volumes as to who is truly holding the adminstration's feet to the fire on 'don't ask, don't tell.'"