Democratic consultant, Douglas E. Schoen, defines political homophobia

Today, the Washington Post has a series of op-eds on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Most of them are very supportive of the repeal. It’s pretty much a no-brainer at this point for most observers, but not all.

First, there’s this key public opinion research from Scott Keeter at Pew:

Support for allowing gays to serve openly in the military has been stable for several years and is significantly higher in many polls than it was when President Bill Clinton raised the issue in the 1990s. When the Pew Research Center asked about this issue last March, we found 59 percent saying they favored “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.” Just 32 percent were opposed, and only 13 percent were strongly opposed. A recent poll by Fox News found a similar result among registered voters (61 percent in favor).

Underlying this trend has been a broad shift in public attitudes about homosexuality more generally, a shift driven by generational change.

So, how does D.C. consultant Douglas Schoen interpret this info? He thinks repeal of DADT will hurt the Democrats politically because it’s a gay issue:

The Obama administration’s decision to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” may well be the right decision morally, ethically and militarily. But it could have a dramatic and deleterious impact on Democratic fortunes in November.

Despite the fact that military leaders such as Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and former Joint Chiefs chairman John Shalikashvili have endorsed the repeal, the American people have not fully done so. The results of referendums in California and Maine and recent votes in the New York and New Jersey legislatures demonstrate quite clearly that mass opinion has not changed as dramatically as elite opinion apparently has on the role of gays in our society.

Where to begin? Schoen seems to think the Democrats will lose Congress if DADT is repealed.

In the Doug Schoen’s world, doing something because it’s the right thing to do for moral, ethical and military reason isn’t enough. Aren’t you glad to know he advises Democratic candidates? And, Schoen has melded marriage into repeal of DADT — the votes in the states he mentions were on MARRIAGE, not Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — as if those issues are the same. Even the most hard core LGBT activists know that’s not the case. Marriage polls significantly less than DADT.

Schoen epitomizes what’s wrong with the D.C. consulting class. So many of the professional Democrats in DC, like Schoen, don’t understand that people expect politicians to do what they said they’d do — and that repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has broad support. Unfortunately, there’s something especially insidious about Schoen’s piece, which is why I’m writing about it. There are some people in the White House and on Capitol Hill who are very happy to see the views in Schoen’s column. Because this kind of thinking is pervasive among people who we think are on our side. I call it Political Homophobia.

Barack Obama ran for President stating unequivocally that he’d repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That might not matter to Schoen and some of Obama’s staffers at the White House, but it matters to a lot us. We’re still naive enough to think that campaign promises matter. There are very serious political consequences for not repealing DADT, but Schoen and his ilk don’t get that.

The problems the Democrats are having with the electorate aren’t related to not acting on LGBT issues. But, not acting on LGBT issues symbolizes the problem with the current state of the Democratic Party. There’s a lack of leadership at the White House on a wide range of issues — and there’s no clear strategy or messaging coming from the brain trust over there. Now, we’ve got a leading Democratic consultant warning the White House and Democrats about taking action on DADT because of the potential political ramifications. In fact, the failure to repeal DADT after Obama has stated that he intends to do it will make the President look ineffective.

It’s not 1993. But, clearly, political homophobia is alive and well in the Democratic Party.

If Democrats won’t deliver, Don’t Ask, Don’t Give.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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