Is the compromise on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell good enough? No I don’t think so. This week the Obama Administration along with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate crafted a compromise bill on repealing the oppressive Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military policy put in place during the Clinton Administration. DADT policy has affected more 14, 000 service members to date. Causing discharges of gay and lesbian military personnel even when we are in two wars and are shorthanded. They were discharged because their sexual orientation became known or suspected. A witch hunt mentality of the military has kept this heinous policy in place.
But now as Congress was about to move on a vote to repeal this policy outright, the Obama Administration has crafted a compromise with Congressional leadership that will allow the Congress to vote to repeal this policy now but allow Secretary Gates’ military readiness review to finish its work by the end of the year and then put in place the repeal.
Although the principle sponsors of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act Sen. Lieberman and Rep. Murphy pledged to work with this compromise, questions remain. The repeal of DADT will be an amendment to the Defense Reauthorization bill which is scheduled to be heard on Thursday. Sen. Carl Levin chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee supports the repeal and also pledged to work to make this compromise real. Republicans vow to oppose it. They continue to raise red herrings and outright lies. One Republican continues to say that Americans oppose the repeal. But the new CNN Poll shows that 78% of America supports the repeal! Click here to read the poll
Newly installed Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has pledged to vote against the DADT repeal. If you live in the Commonwealth or have family there–call him and pressure him to get it out of committee. Also pressure is needed on Democrat, Sen Byrd of West Virginia and barely Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. All the votes are not there yet to get this out of the committee.
I personally think the compromise crafted by the Obama administration is cowardly. because it will still allow discharges to continue because the repeal won’t exactly take effect yet even if they vote to repeal it. It will only take effect after the review is complete by the Department of Defense and then its findings are certified by Gates, and Obama and the Armed Services Committee. Below is the text of the Amendments:
Committee Amendment Proposed by Mr. Lieberman
At the appropriate place in title V, insert the following:
SEC. [ARM10802]. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE POLICY CONCERNING HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE ARMED FORCES.
(a) COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A REPEAL OF 10 U.S.C. § 654.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—On March 2, 2010, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum directing the Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of a Repeal of 10 U.S.C. § 654 (section 654 of title 10, United States Code).
(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW.—The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretary’s memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:
(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.
(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.
(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.
(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. § 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.
(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.
(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. § 654.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by subsection (f) shall take effect only on the date on which
the last of the following occurs:
(1) The Secretary of Defense has received the
report required by the memorandum of the Secretary referred to in subsection (a).
(2) The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:
(A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.
(B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).
(C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
(c) NO IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON CURRENT POLICY.— Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.
(d) BENEFITS.—Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to
require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 9 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” and referred to as the “Defense of Marriage Act”).
(e) NO PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION.—Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.
(f) TREATMENT OF 1993 POLICY.—
(1) TITLE10.—Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), chapter 37 of title 10, 18 United States Code, is amended—
(A) by striking section 654; and (B) in the table of sections at the beginning of such chapter, by striking the item relating to section 654.
(2) CONFORMINGAMENDMENT.—Upon the effective date established by subsection (b), section ARM10802 S.L.C. 571 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 (10 U.S.C. 654 note) is amended by striking subsections (b), (c), and (d).
But insiders at Servicemembers United tell me that this is our best chance. With the November elections looming and Democrats positioned to lose many seats, it is now or never.
But I do have to say-sometimes you have to stand up for your convictions. I think the votes would be there. They just don’t want to work that hard on a “gay” issue. And Obama isn’t willing to use his capital for the gays and lesbians to insist on repeal immediately. Sometimes you walk the middle ground-AND SOMETIMES YOU DO NOT. Sadly, the president who rode to the White House on doing business differently –does it the same old way. There is nothing to guarantee that the policy will actually be repealed and applied and discrimination and discharges stop. The vote on Thursday will be cover for those who sponsored the Military Readiness Enhancement Act and they can say to the GLBT community we tried! But darn those military people-they just couldn’t figure out how to make it happen.
We must hold their feet to the fire. And Obama ‘s too.