Monday, April 26, 2010

Lafayette Park Closed Down to Prevent Media Coverage of Protest Supporting DADT Repeal

While he mentioned the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in his State of the Union Address and there is currently a study taking place on the issue, there is still a lot more that President Obama could be doing to prevent discrimination based upon sexual orientation in our armed forces. That is why there are a number of organizations like Get Equal that are taking action to demand that action be taken on the issue through the Defense Authorization Bill (DAB) that will be coming up for renewal soon. According to Get Equal, “the DAB provides a way to repeal DADT immediately. And you know that repealing the policy quickly and decisively is the right thing to do for LGBT servicemembers and for all of the armed forces.”

It’s definitely a good thing that we’re seeing some progress on these issues, but I tend to agree that we need to put pressure on the Obama Administration if we want to see discrimination based upon sexual orientation end in our country’s military. After all, it’s clear that there’s going to be plenty of delays in repealing DADT if the public doesn’t speak up because the White House is already backing off it‘s promises to encourage a vote on the issue this year. The clear implication of this is that he isn’t willing to take a political risk on the issue before the mid-term elections. Supporters of repealing DADT therefore have to make it clear that failure to move forward with the repeal could also have some political repercussions.

Realizing that the Democrats are likely going to lose seats in Congress during the mid-term elections, which could then give the White House yet another excuse not to move forward on repealing DADT, activists from Get Equal have been holding protests outside of the White House that call for Obama to display more leadership on the issue. Following up on the action that Lt. Dan Choi did a few weeks ago, Lt. Choi was joined by five other service members (Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cadet Mara Boyd, and Cpl. Evelyn Thomas) who showed their solidarity and support for the repeal of DADT by chaining themselves to a fence outside of the White House.

Instead of taking the hint that this was an issue where we need to move forward, it turns out that efforts were made to make sure the activists couldn’t even get their point across to the general public who were in the area at the time. As the folks over at AmericaBlog caught on video, the situation raised even more questions when security actually closed down Lafayette Park and ordered the media to leave. When the White House is already backtracking on promises they’ve made regarding DADT, it certainly doesn’t look good that a public park is being closed down in a blatant attempt to prevent the media from covering a protest. So the question now becomes: Will the president take leadership on the repeal of DADT, or are we going to see the White House continue trying to dismiss the calls for action?

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