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    January 23, 2008

    When a Clinton lies about gay rights…

    Posted by: Chris

    … and no gay rights group makes a sound, did it ever really happen?

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    Yes it did, and now Log Cabin has posted the video evidence of Bill Clinton misstating the history and legal effect of his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military. The clip is short, so have at:

    Still nothing public in response from the Hillary fans at the Human Rights Campaign, even though HRC hasn't hesitated to interject itself thus far during the primaries when it would benefit "the other HRC," Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    In fact, the gay media and blogosphere generally has ignored the issue. So far all I could find was a post on Gay Patriot and a small story on PageOneQ (that doesn't test the validity of his comments).

    Also conspicuously silent is the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization whose work on gays in the military I greatly respect. SLDN owes it to gay soldiers and sailors kicked out during the Clinton administration and since to correct Bill Clinton's gross rewriting of the history of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," not to mention the basic structure of the policy -- which was never intended to allow gay service members to "live their lives freely" so long as they didn't march in Gay Pride parades in uniform, as Clinton suggested.

    I've asked SLDN for comment and am awaiting a reply.

    UPDATE: Pam Spaulding did post in response to Bill Clinton's selective memory, concluding, "The long legacy of triangulation and the Clintons is too familiar not to make this new statement sound like another bit of Bill revisionist history going on."

    Still nothing in the gay or mainstream media, and no reply from SLDN or its spokesperson Steve Ralls, who apparently spends a good portion of his day blogging off-topic over at the Bilerico Project. Since when did gay activism get so boring that they need to moonlight as journo-bloggers, anyway?



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    1. Lucrece on Jan 23, 2008 3:29:29 PM:

      Pam Spaulding also covered this, and her post was cross-posted over at Bilerico.

    1. Michael Bedwell on Jan 23, 2008 3:48:35 PM:

      Poor Chris, and the lingering effects of that brutal fag attack on his grasp of reality. Where was it again, Amsterdam? Repeat after me: "My husband is not a hat."

      Though we admit it is a little hard to tell sometimes, we are sorry to inform you that Bill is not, in fact, on the ballot anywhere this year. Your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-driven inability to stop bashing him nearly eight years after he left office is kinda unhealthy don't ja think? And definitely retro. In the age of the iPod you are still, politically speaking, SO 8-track tape. Or as my late mother might say, you long ago ran it into the ground and broke it off. One more cynical than I could attribute it to your still-Republican-no-matter-what-you-say need to try to distract us from the fact that, whatever his sins, Clinton never tried to rape the US Constitution by taking gay equality out of it and that we're, once again, being demonized for political gain by most of those Republicans who are, repeat ARE, on the current ballot.

      Reality check: Could it be, Chris, that, as another saying goes, they're not just into your freakish obessions as much as you are? While still not elevating it to the "stop the presses; pull over and turn off your engine" status that you have [could it be, Chris, that, as the expression go, at least three gogs also mentioned it; PamsHouseBlend, Queerty, and Bilerico. Here is what I posted at the latter, and SLDN spokesperson Steve Ralls' response. Perhaps you should sit down.

      "The subject is particularly important to me as one of my best friends was the late Leonard Matlovich, whose suit against the Air Force in 1975 was the first to make antigay military policies a national issue, though he is perhaps better known so many years later for his epitaph: “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

      Most experts on the current policy are affiliated with the overall marvelous group that was formed exclusively to overturn it and assist those who were victimized by it in the interim, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. In a 1998 [?] report, then SLDN co-executive directors Michelle Beneke and Dixon Osburn wrote, emphasis mine:

      “The promises to stop asking, pursuits and harassment in 1993 were clear. General Colin Powell stated in 1993: ‘We will not witch hunt. We will not chase. We will not seek to learn orientation’. Senator Sam Nunn, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, ‘I do not believe we should have sex squads prying into the private lives of our service members’. President Clinton pledged that the policy would provide for ‘a decent regard for the legitimate privacy and associational rights of all service members’. Then Senator, now Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, expressed a similar understanding of the policy when he asked then DoD General Counsel Jamie Gorelick whether the ‘small amount of privacy under the current policy was intended to prevent the military from prying into people's private lives’. Gorelick answered with a resounding ‘yes’.

      The reason underlying continued violations of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue’ is a lack of commitment from top military and civilian authorities. Military leaders have not communicated to the field the policy's limits to gay investigations or ITS INTENT TO END PRYING INTO SERVICE MEMBERS' PRIVATE LIVES. The lack of commitment is reflected by: (1) The absence of clear and thorough guidance or training on investigative limits; (2) heavy-handed and increasingly intrusive investigative tactics against suspected gays, including coercion and fishing expeditions; (3) no recourse or redress for service members asked, pursued or harassed; and (4) a lack of accountability for those who violate current policy. The result is a climate in many commands where ‘anything goes’ in the pursuit of suspected gay personnel.”

      While there is reason to condemn the Clinton Administration for failure to correct this, the belief that Clinton could have won a showdown with Congress over creating the policy is nonsense. Similarly, the belief that DADTDP was, in itself, worse than preceding antigay military policies is willful ignorance. IF he "bragged about it" in 1996, as Rebecca claims, conceptually he had a right to.

      According to the expert on their history, the late Allen Berube, between the beginning of WWII and the late 80s, some 100,000 gays and lesbians had been discharged—long before any of us had even heard of Bill Clinton. Neither do the highest NUMBER of discharges in any given year under DADTDP match the highest numbers in some years under earlier policies. PERCENTAGES in some years might be higher but such math is affected by a smaller overall military force.

      Nevertheless, the larger point remains that ANY form of limitation on the admission and retention of out gays in the military will be abused for the same reasons they were a decade ago as reported by SLDN: institutional homophobia. And like statistics on gay bashing in the civilian community, expression of it can ebb and flow whenever the amount of public discussion of gay equality does, except, just as discharges themselves go down, when the military is strapped for bodies as they are now with Iraq.

      But the ULTIMATE point is that rather than rehashing history, let alone rewriting it, we are all better served by paying attention to the fact that ALL Democratic candidates for President support DADTDP complete repeal and no viable Republican candidate does. Let us move on." - MLB


      "Michael Bedwell is largely on-target here.

      In truth, yes, there were some inaccuracies in what President Clinton said last week. It has never been the case that, under the law, you simply had to avoid being 'out' while in uniform. In reality, being out to anyone, at anytime, is grounds for dismissal. (You can go to a gay bar, technically, but can't tell anyone you're gay while you are there, or do anything that would lead anyone to believe you are gay. How's that for absurd?!) The law, in truth, practically prevents any gay American, who is out to anyone in anyway, from serving in the military. That has always been the case.

      (There's a good synopsis of how the law has been implemented in SLDN's 10th anniversary report on DA, DT.)

      I think we can all agree that, whatever the intention behind the law at its inception, 14 years have shown that it doesn't work for anyone: service members, the military or the public interest.

      Which is why Michael's last point is so important: It's time to look forward, not backward.

      All 3 candidates, including Senator Clinton, have pledged to support repeal. Given the frequency and intensity of those pledges, it would be exceptionally difficult for any of the 3 to back away if elected.

      Clinton, Edwards and Obama have all acknowledged the law doesn't work, and Bill Clinton himself has said as much as well.

      Now, the job is to get rid of the law, and elect a commander-in-chief who will work with Congress to do just that, as all three leading Democratics have promised to do.

      Was DA, DT ever a good law? No. Was President Clinton's remark here entirely accurate? No. But has Senator Clinton been completely supportive in efforts to repeal the law? Yes. And, as Michael points out, that's where our attention should be focused now."

    1. Lucrece on Jan 23, 2008 6:31:33 PM:

      Were the comments trivializing his gay bashing necessary?

    1. Matt on Jan 24, 2008 1:30:32 AM:

      Judging from the prominence of Ralls's photo on that site, I'd wager it is a ploy to get dates.

    1. Dave on Jan 24, 2008 5:34:36 AM:

      I cannot forgive Ex President Bill Clinton for DADT and DOMA. Maybe some fags can forget and forgive, but I cannot. Sorry to say, I doubt if his wife will be much better since she defends all his actions on these pandering pieces of legislation.

    1. Kevin on Jan 24, 2008 7:16:38 AM:

      First, SLDN was not formed to repeal DADT. It was formed to provide legal assistance to servicemembers affected by the policy. It has later participated in efforts to repeal or change the policy, but it's not accurate to say that was what it was formed.

      Second, this is all very interesting political nonsense to say "don't focus on the fact that he just lied in the midst of an election campaign, his wife promises to repeal the policy." He also promised to overturn the ban. He bit his lip and pretended to care, and then threw us under the bus. His administration was responsible for kicking out a gigantic number of gays and lesbians from the U.S. military.

      It is absolutely fair to raise the issue of credibility. Should we trust this man again? Frankly, it is disgraceful to suggest we should ignore what he and his wife are doing and saying on the campaign trail right now.

    1. Sean on Jan 24, 2008 1:47:52 PM:

      Michael Bedwell, you are a nasty asshole. Gay people should be concerned with policies that affect us even if they were passed years ago.

    1. Michael Bedwell on Jan 24, 2008 3:17:14 PM:

      Thank you for the praise, Sean, but, as usual, as pathological [that means you need professional help] Clinton Haters typically do, you are either incapable of objectively understanding what I wrote, or, more typical, purposely misrepresent it. My "concern," and belief that DADTDP should be totally repealed [and not replaced by any other bar to out gay service of any kind] is unequivocally above.

      As for Kevin's equally haughty and hollow assertion that, "SLDN was not formed to repeal DADT.blah blah blah," forget me, who ya gonna believe, Kevin or SLDN's founder:

      "Dixon Osburn reflects on SLDN NEWS
      Bay Area Reporter 05/03/2007

      ...The year was 1993...Osburn and [Michelle] Benecke formed SLDN to provide direct legal aid for soldiers affected by the [DADT] policy and lay the groundwork for its repeal. ..."

      Now that that distortion is settled, please document that Bill Clinton ever "promised to overturn the ban"—if you mean DADT. If you mean the ban that preceded it, yes, he did. But, as your mommy should have made certain you understood before sending you out into the world, sometimes we can't keep our promises because of things we can't control. I bet you've promised to not present opinion as fact but, well, we see how well that's working.

      Final point: Once again, Bill Clinton STILL not on the ballot.

    1. Matt on Jan 24, 2008 3:57:54 PM:

      Final point: Once again, Bill Clinton STILL not on the ballot.

      Man, are YOU deluded.

      To quote Gail Collins, "If he’s all over her campaign, he’s going to be all over her administration. Instead of the original promise of the thoroughly educated Hillary, we’re being offered the worst-case scenario — that the pair of them are going to return to Pennsylvania Avenue and recreate the old Clinton chaos."

    1. Kevin on Jan 24, 2008 4:00:44 PM:

      Um... the BAR didn't found SLDN. That's who you are "quoting".

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 2:26:04 AM:

      that the pair of them are going to return to Pennsylvania Avenue and recreate the old Clinton chaos."

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