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REPORT: Supporters Of DADT Didn’t Fight Very Hard To Preserve It

Duncan Osborne has an article in Gay City News highlighting the remarkable enthusiasm gap between supporters of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and advocates for its repeal. While repeal groups spearheaded an impressive campaign micro targeting six swing senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee, “tight-wing groups that opposed repeal don’t appear to have worked very hard”:

A number of Congressional offices have indicated that they have received very little grassroots calls, emails, faxes, etc., opposing repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Christian A. Berle, director of the Washington office of the Log Cabin Republicans, wrote in an email. “This is a far cry from the vitriol that was being espoused by those opposing gay rights, when Congress debated open service in 1993.”[…]

The Alliance Defense Fund, Focus on the Family, the American Conservative Union, and the Center for Security Policy announced their opposition to repeal in a February 11 press event produced by the Center For Military Readiness, but these groups do not appear to have done more than that.

HRC began working with Servicemembers United last year to produce the Voices of Honor tour, which visited 50 cities and featured gay and straight veterans speaking in support of repeal. HRC generated 350,000 emails to members of Congress, sent nearly 30,000 letters or postcards, and made roughly 1,000 lobbying visits. […]

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Repeal supporters and opponents lobbied on dozens if not hundreds of issues, not just Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, during the first quarter of 2010, but the difference in resources spent is striking. On all the issues they lobbied on, repeal supporters spent $1.75 million while opponents spent just $125,000.

The lack of enthusiasm from the other side, the military leadership’s support for repeal, and the growing acceptance of gay people, raises the question of why opponents of the policy couldn’t secure a better deal or garner more “swing” votes. Some members, like House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), are still not comfortable with gay people. Others, like Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) are playing politics with repeal. There is certainly more blame to go around, and the White House probably deserves some of it. But given these spending numbers, the frustration over the delay in actually repealing the measure is certainly understandable.