Don't bother asking Republican senatorial candidate Dino Rossi where he stands on repealing the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, because he's not gonna tell you.
But I will: he's opposed.
How can I be so sure? Well, Rossi told the TNT last May that DADT "seems to have been working," but he has remained committed to being noncommittal on an issue that just doesn't work well for him with the socially libertarian swing voters he needs to swing big in his direction if he's to have a hope of defeating Patty Murray. And so not only has Rossi insisted that he'll have to wait for a Pentagon study to be released before even considering the issue, he won't even commit to supporting the Pentagon's conclusions.
But that's this election. It turns out Rossi wasn't nearly so cagey on gay rights back before he became a perennial statewide candidate.
Indeed, in 1996, during his first successful run for the state senate, Rossi expressly stated his opposition to "special rights" for gays in a campaign flyer intended to show the "night and day" contrast between him and incumbent Sen. Kathleen Drew. Rossi disparaged Drew as a "strong proponent of gay rights," and attacked her for "sponsor[ing] a gay and lesbian art exhibit in the state capital..." referring to a photo exhibit held in memory of Sen. Cal Anderson, who had died of AIDS.
And it is that attitude toward gays and lesbians that Rossi brought to the legislature, voting in favor of Washington's so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1998, and against moving to the floor 2003's HB 1809, that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Meanwhile, Rossi's much touted 2003-2005 budget proposal featured cuts to the Washington Human Rights Commission, the body that adjudicates discrimination complaints.
All that and more explains why the Seattle Metropolitan Elections Committee repeatedly gave Rossi a score of 1 on a scale of 5 for his record on gay rights, a rating that indicates "that he would or did stand against LGBT rights and/or had a known history of anti-gay activities," and why the Washington Conservative Union gave Rossi a 100% score.
So when Rossi equivocates on DADT, don't you believe it. He knows, if elected, exactly how he'd vote on this and other issues concerning LGBT rights when it inevitably comes before the U.S. Senate, and — despite this media charade that we can't know his position until he definitively states it — so does everybody else.
In fact, the more pertinent question to ask Dino Rossi is not "Do you support repeal of DADT?" but rather, "Why do you hate gays and lesbians?" Or at the very least reporters need to skip the bullshit, and finally ask Rossi, "yes" or "no," whether he believes the LGBT community deserves the same rights and privileges guaranteed every other American?