Opinion: Why Obama Suddenly Took on 'Don't Ask'
To be sure, some small efforts were made by the administration months ago toward repeal.
In October, the White House approached Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent congressman well-regarded in the military who has long opposed DADT, about developing a means to lift the ban.
The same month, Kevin Nix, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network -- a group that advocates for gay members of the armed forces -- welcomed the appointment of retired Marine Gen. Clifford Stanley as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness as a sign of the administration's seriousness of purpose to move forward.
Yet, despite these and other rumblings, there was no evidence that the White House had a strategy (or timetable) to effect repeal. Indeed, just days before the State of the Union address, it seems Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was caught off guard when the White House asked him to delay plans to hold Senate hearings to examine DADT as the president would be referencing the matter in his address.
And the White House delivered. In that address, Obama said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."
Before a week had passed, the administration dispatched its two top defense officials, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Capitol Hill to outline their plans to repeal the ban.
So, what exactly got the White House wheels in motion on DADT?
It certainly wasn't the Human Rights Campaign, which has been playing a game of make-nice with Democrats in Congress and the Obama administration. Its leader, Joe Solmonese, ever quick to criticize Republicans when they fall short on gay issues, has been tepid in his criticism of the president when Obama failed to keep campaign promises to the gay community. No wonder ABC News' Rick Klein, in his October list of the "10 Least Powerful People in DC," pegged "Gay-rights advocates" at No. 7, citing in particular Obama's failure to repeal DADT despite repeated promises to do so.
If the HRC's strategy had been effective, the administration would have long ago begun the process of repealing DADT.
It may instead have been an effort by a coterie of liberal bloggers and activists calling "for a temporary moratorium on DNC donations" who made the administration realize there was a price for its inaction.
The fledgling movement, which adopted the motto "Don't Ask, Don't Give" and has attracted the likes of legendary gay rights activist David Mixner, aimed at discouraging donations to the party until the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of both "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Mostly left-of-center bloggers at such sites as Pam's House Blend, Queerty and AmericaBlogGay pressed their readers to boycott the Democratic Party.
Their actions generated a lot of heat in the community, culminating in a cover story in the Advocate, a monthly gay newsmagazine. And threatened with this loss of revenue from some of their most reliable (and affluent) supporters, the Obama administration surely realized it needed to act quickly on one of those issues, lest it lose a significant chunk of its financial support and alienate some of the party's most enthusiastic backers.
So, this gay conservative blogger's hat is off to his fellows on the other side of the political aisle. Unlike the heads of the establishment gay organizations, they didn't kowtow to the leaders of the political party they prefer and refused to accept their promises of action on some undefined date in the future.
They told the administration there would be consequences for its failure to act. And it acted.
B. Daniel Blatt founded the Log Cabin Republican Club of Northern Virginia and blogs at GayPatriot.net.
His previous op-ed for AOL News was: "A New Approach Needed to Advance Gay Rights."