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DADT round-up

Timothy Kincaid

December 3rd, 2010

Yesterday the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense testified before Congress in favor of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Today the Service Chiefs testified with mixed messages.

Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos said that he didn’t want repeal “at this time.” I think it’s pretty clear is that Gen. Amos doesn’t want repeal at any time under any circumstances due to his own personal prejudices.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. believes that DADT should be repealed eventually but not right now.

Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz thinks that the repeal should occur, but that the report is too optimistic. He recommended repeal, but that the change not take effect before 2012.

Only Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead supported the immediate repeal of the policy (LA Times)

Navy sailors routinely train and work in close quarters alongside the service members of allied navies that allow homosexuals to serve openly, said Roughead. After studying the integration of gay sailors into other navies over the past decade, Roughead described the impact on the effectiveness of the force as a “non-event.”

John McCain, of course, will not be listening to the Navy Chief. Rather, he has been obsessing over the subset of the Marines who oppose repeal. Do you get the impression that if the typists in the stenopool were the only servicepeople who opposed repealing the policy, that McCain would declare them to be the most essential part of the Military operation?

Meanwhile, everything is being held up by the Republican Senators’ cohesive effort to force a vote to extend current tax rates. (And no, this is not a tactic that was created to block DADT.) It is difficult to know whether this block will hold together should a compromise plan be proposed (one that does not define a couple making $250,000 in Los Angeles as “millionaires and billionaires” but draws a higher threshold.)

Eventually, the Defense Appropriations bill will go before the Senate. And even in the new Senate, there may not be enough Republican votes to uphold a filibuster.

To date, at least two Republican Senators have pledged support (and more are likely): Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts:

“I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer,” said Mr. Brown, who is in the Massachusetts National Guard. “As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.”

Mr. Brown added, “I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.”

Meanwhile a very influential voice on the right has joined in calling for an end to the ban.

It is time to recognize the desires of all people competent to serve in our Military and afford them the opportunity to contribute to this noble, often thankless, but very necessary profession.

Dr. Laura was immensely proud of her son’s service in the Marines Army and would often reference it on her show. This endorsement carries a great deal of weight with her listeners.

Although there are various sound-bites that supporters and opponents can latch onto from the past two days of testimony, there is one thing on which all of the Chiefs agree: that legislative repeal will be far less disruptive than a judicial decision ending the policy. And they have good reason to fear just such a decision.

The ONLY defense provided by the Department of Defense in Log Cabin v. the US was that Congress was going to repeal the policy and that they should be allowed to do so. Should Congress fail to take such action, then there is no argument whatsoever that the government has left to make in the appeal to Log Cabin’s victory.

And Log Cabin will not play nice with the administration. They will undoubtedly file with the appeals court that the appeal be tossed out and that, at the very least, the current hold on the injunction be lifted. The Department of Defense can hardly claim a likelihood of success in the courts if they have nothing at all on which to base their defense.

There is a very real possibility that if Congress declines to enact a plan to roll out a gradual repeal, the courts could end the policy immediately. And while McCain would rather play Curmudgeon in Chief, those who care about defense policy should carefully consider the consequences of inaction.

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

[Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz] recommended repeal, but that the change not take effect before 2012.

Translation: We wangt to make sure that the republicans have a chance to take back the presidency before we even thibkabout that.this way we will be dealing with people who will cave to every demand that we make and we will not be forced to do anything we do not want to do.

Alex 0_0
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

I seriously doubt the Senate will vote for repeal of DADT, I just don’t see the votes or the time frame for that to happen. The Obama admin has been outplayed–again–and will suffer yet another political humiliation. Fanning hatred of gays is good politics for the Republicans, especially since the Democrats are so cowardly and incompetent.

The Obama DOJ will continue to defend DADT in court, and their request to keep the stay will be honored. It’s time to admit that Obama is a failure on gay equality, so that we can figure out how to move on despite him.

Freddy
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

After the vote in the Senate on Saturday for the tax cut extension, if the GOP filibusters the vote for cloture, does that allow other republican senators to vote on the defense bill?

Ray
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Well, now that Senator Collins and Brown support repeal, and given that Harry Reid can keep the senate Dems in check, all we need is a tax bill, right? I don’t think it’s far fetched to say that Senator Mulkowski and Ensign could be onboard *after* the tax bill – maybe even closet case Lindsay Graham. They’ll all tipped their hand, but then “no” is the guiding principle of the GOP these days.

a.mcewen
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

In all honesty, I can understand the reluctance to allow the court to resolve DADT. There is a deep respect for chain of command in the Armed Forces and it does worry me that those in the military would be more resistant to the repeal of DADT if it came from the courts rather than a decision pushed by the Senate and helped along by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That attitude wouldn’t be helpful to our lgbt men and women in the military.

I really wish we would talk about that further. But there seems to be this “we don’t care how it’s done just as long as it’s DONE” push by our community which does not take into account the repercussions of getting results without taking into account what happens after we get those results.

Ray
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

@a.mc

I think our community *does* share your view. I certainly do. But I think what you are perceiving is the *frustration* of the community as we get whipped in one direction, then another on a near hourly basis, all the while wondering if we’ll live to see this change implemented. Some days I just want to crawl into a hole and stay there until someone knocking on the door tells me it’s all over. I was in the service when Leonard Matlovich got booted and it just seems like we’ve been bitch-slapped through the nine circles of hell every couple of years seeking the justice we deserve. I’m pretty exhausted with it all so as sensible as the Pentagon’s plan is, I have my moments when I just want to say “f*ck it, let the courts deal with it.” It’s just exhaustion for me.

a.mcewen
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Well the courts may just have to do that.

Jim
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Speaking of fanning hatred of gays! Nothing has done that more effectively than the appalling debacle of the Armed Services Chiefs’ DADT hearings these past two days. I sat through the entire session this afternoon. While there were some refreshing (if not inspiring) “it’s-the-right-thing-to-do” responses from some of the chiefs, most of session was a nauseating demonizing of gay people. We surely must be some horrific species of aliens from a planet far far away.

a.mcewen
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Seriously though, I hear ya Ray. But it’s equally frustrating when you can’t discuss these things without being labeled an “Obamabot” or an “Obamapologist” or whatever other insulting names passes for dialogue within the community. Sometimes I think that some of us are so passionate that we forget that this is a community struggle, not a singular one dominated by one point of view.

AdrianT
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

All this nonsense about ‘gradual repeal’, ‘implement’, ‘phase in’… really, it just takes a couple of minutes to repeal, and tell people to get on with each other. if the military make such an issue out of this it will only put rational, sane, non-bigoted people off enlisting.

is this talk of stalling about finding a way to avoid allowing partner benefits? and if this fails, the only option is direct action.

Jim
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

You are so right, Adrian. There was so much talk today about the process of implementation, phasing in, etc., it was dizzying. It takes far more effort to discriminate than to accept and embrace. They need only *stop* their discrimination. The so-called implementation is the halting of the proactive pursuance of gay people. (Few are aware that the original policy was supposed to be “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.” Obviously, the last part was dropped.) What else is there to do? Yes, get on with each other, and make that a military order.

a.mcewen
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

But you see Adrian, that’s the thing. You can tell people anything but it’s what they do that matters. I can understand the caution in terms of getting it phased in and I don’t think it would be settled in a matter of minutes. I can understand the trepidation with getting DADT repealed via the courts. But of course if that’s the ONLY option, then that’s another thing.

Ryan
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

Wait…people still think Congressional repeal might still happen? Damn. All 42 GOP senators already said they wouldn’t vote for anything but tax cuts for the rich, and it seems incredibly unlikely the Dems will cave oh that. Besides, with two Dems voting against repeal, Brown and Collins aren’t enough. Especially when their support for repeal is contigent upon a tax break they know the Dems won’t support. Our only hope is the LCR beating Obama, and I damn sure never thought I’d ever write that sentence.

JCF
December 3rd, 2010 | LINK

the courts could end the policy immediately

“the courts”??? Do you seriously think there are 5 votes on SCOTUS to overturn DADT “in time of war”, when Congress wouldn’t? [To say nothing of the Mutually-Assured-Destruction, as the Obama DoJ keeps appealing, and the LGBT community hates them more and more for doing so]

This lame-duck repeal is the ONLY game in town. It’s crazy to treat it as anything other than that.

Amicus
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

The SLDN may file two new suits next week (as best I understand it – might be wrong).

Amicus
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

I’ve been trying to gauge Schwartz’s concerns.

You know, one of the problems with implementing this policy in short order is not with the wartime effort, so much.

It’s the fact that so much of the rot is at the top. That makes it that much harder for leadership to root it out.

Still, there is nothing quite like “hi tempo ops” to find and promote quality, new leadership, if needs be, the kind that can lead by example.

Paul J. Stein
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

By “Phase In” they meant, give us time to RETIRE everyone who hates faggots and queers. That is the real issue here. The joint chiefs are wanting to go away and have it be the next commander’s problem.

Paul J. Stein
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, another reason would be finding out the REAL number of Gay/Lesbian service members would be a shock and they don’t want that revelation on their watch.

Amicus
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

Paul, Probably unrelated, but see Section 506 of the current bill .

Timothy Kincaid
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

Susan Collins made an interesting observation that it can actually be easier to implement policy change in time of war. People care less about the intricacies of policy when they are in physical danger.

Richard Rush
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

As I understand, public support for repeal of DADT is much higher than for other gay-equality issues. I think the reason is because we are in a war, and there is always the possibility of implementing a draft if personnel needs cannot be met with volunteers. People would much rather have gays help meet the need than their own sons, other relatives, and friends. It’s all about perceived self-interest, just as it is with marriage referendums when NOM spooks some voters into believing there is a possibility that their kid could be taught to be gay.

Ryan
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

Senate Republicans just blocked a middle-class tax extension, for those making under 250K. The Democrats are now going to try to pass a tax extension for those making under 1 million. This is also expected to be blocked. They’re not going to compromise on this. They haven’t compromised once in the last two years. I don’t believe the stand-off has designed specifically do justify voting against DADT repeal, but the end result will be the same. All 42 Republicans will block repeal, even if Collins and Brown are against it personally. (And they’re not enough votes anyway). It’s ridiculous to pretend the GOP can be reasoned with in any way at all.

Mark F.
December 4th, 2010 | LINK

Prediction: Obama will give in on the tax cut, paving the way for possible repeal.

Steve
December 5th, 2010 | LINK

It’s a sad state of affairs when this whole issue can be held hostage by a geriatric fossil who still thinks that he will be admired for being a maverick. Down deep I think McCain feels that any gay soldier just can’t be as tough as him. To suggest otherwise must be an affront to his masculinity. I really believe that he feels allowing gays to serve openly will somehow water down his war hero status. He’s never had much credibility and changes his opinion depending on which way the wind is blowing that day. His only legacy that he will be remembered for now is that of elevating an illiterate dimwit from cretinville to national status.

dr laura schlessinge
December 5th, 2010 | LINK

thank you for the mention but my son served 6 years in the Army and not the Marines…although the Marines have prettier uniforms! warmly, drl

ZRAinSWVA
December 5th, 2010 | LINK

On behalf of my partner (Army, stationed Germany 1978-82), best friend (WWII, Guam), two other friends (WWII both, partnered 35 years), sister’s partner (Army, 8 years service), etc…

…I would just really, really like this to be over (in our favor, of course!). It’s exhausting…

Mykelb
December 5th, 2010 | LINK

If the cowards on Capitol Hill won’t resolvel this in the next two weeks, the Courts will.

Edward Miessner
December 6th, 2010 | LINK

As if the Courts will resolve this properly. With Kagan recusing herself, it would be a 4-4 tie which could go either way, depending on how the ninth circuit rules.

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