Main | Tuesday, October 26, 2010

White House On DADT Meeting: Mention Court Cases And The Meeting Is Over

As I noted this morning, today the White House will meet with advocates for the repeal of DADT to strategize the coming lame duck session of Congress. Oh, but one little warning to the attendees: if you bring up any of the DADT court cases, this meeting is SO over. From an email from White House LGBT liaison Brian Bond:
“Obviously this meeting has gotten out. We are expecting the content of the conversation today to be off the record and to help us figure out how to move forward with the lame duck session. Also as previously mentioned, there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting. The focus is repeal and the lame duck session. This is also a non-partisan meeting where we want everyone’s help.”
John Aravosis responds at AmericaBlog: "Nothing better illustrates the hubris the White House brings to its relations with its allies. Our civil rights representatives are invited to a key meeting on DADT, as part of the overall White House "'offensive' to win back the base before the elections, and the White House outright threatens our leaders. Perhaps it's time our leaders started threatening the White House."

RELATED: The "to" list of Bond's email reveals the names of those invited to the meeting:
Allison Herwitt and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign; Shane Larson of the Stonewall Democrats; Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress; Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans; Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United; Nathaniel Frank, DADT expert formerly of the Palm Center; Jim Kessler of the Third Way.
UPDATE: The White House responds to criticism.
Among LGBT activists, the leaked invitation was interpreted as evidence that the administration is not only punting on Don't Ask Don't Tell (the Justice Department is set to appeal a ruling overturning the 17-year old policy) but also unwilling to hear dissenting opinions. Asked for comment, however, an administration official stressed that there are very precise legal lines that can't be crossed. One of them is talking about ongoing litigation with litigants in the room.

"Some of the participants in the meeting are involved in active litigation against the government on the issue of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so it wouldn't be appropriate to discuss that litigation," said the administration official "This is standard procedure for any meeting where that would be the case. You could add further that our lawyers can't have contact with represented parties without their counsel being present."

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