Libertarians courting gays after 'don't ask' remains

President Obama signed the landmark repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" Wednesday morning, ending a 17-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 24, 2010; 4:00 PM

After the Senate's failure to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" law, the national Libertarian Party is urging gays and lesbians to join its ranks rather than continue to support Democrats as if they were "abused spouses who keep returning to their aggressors."

In a statement On Thursday, Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Hinkle argued that Democrats, with their control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, could have fulfilled their promise to promote gay rights but have repeatedly failed to do so.

"They could have repealed 'don't ask, don't tell.' They could have gotten rid of the Defense of Marriage Act," he said. "But they didn't do either of those things. That's a complete and total betrayal of all the promises they made to gay and lesbian voters for years."

Gay Democrats defended the party even though a handful of Democrats joined with Republicans to bar debate from starting on the annual defense bill, which included a proposal to repeal the ban on gays and lesbians serving opening in the military.

"Save for the three votes, the Democrats were there for our community, and the Republicans obstructed the vote in a bloc," said Linsey Pecikonis, a spokeswoman for the National Stonewall Democrats.

She reserved special praise for the Obama administration. "They have done more for our community than any other administration in our history," she said, citing progress on issues such as housing discrimination against same-sex couples and barriers for transgender people to get passports.

On Thursday, the White House tried to reassure gay rights g roups that the administration was still in favor of ending the military's rule requiring gay and lesbian service members to remain in the closet, even as its lawyers filed an objection in federal court arguing that immediately lifting the policy could harm military readiness.

Gay rights advocates were stung by both major parties this week. On Thursday, Republican leaders unveiled a new platform called "Pledge to America." It included support for "traditional marriage," even though many conservatives this year have said they support legalizing same-sex marriage.

According to exit polling data, about 70 percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender voters backed Obama in the 2008 election.

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