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Gays in the U.S. Military

Modifying/repealing "Don't ask,
don't tell" (DADT) during 2010-MAY-25.

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Continued from a previous file

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2010-MAY-25: Congressional activity expected:

According to the Washington Post. a compromise has been reached among members of Congress to pass a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy now, but to make the repeal effective in the future only if certain specific requirements are met.

Their article stated:

"The White House had initially hoped that Congress would wait until after the Pentagon study was completed before bringing up a repeal, but senior lawmakers made it clear that they intended to push ahead on the issue, with or without administration support. Now the controversial issue will return to the national conversation as fall reelection campaigns gear up. ..."

"While some Democrats, particularly in the House, wanted to wait for the Pentagon study to be finished, more-liberal Democrats were pushing for an immediate repeal. The compromise is designed to satisfy both concerns."

" 'We can live with this and we're asking, enthusiastically, members to support and vote for it,' said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network." 1

CNN reported that:

" The compromise emerged late Monday [MAY-24]¸from a meeting at the White House involving administration officials, gay rights groups and Pentagon officials, sources said." 2

Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Compaign (HRC) reported that Congress is scheduled to vote on the compromise during the week of 2010-MAY-23. This would bring the U.S. Armed Forces into alignment with Canada, Britain, and all other NATO countries. He encouraged recipients of his Email message to contact their federal representatives. He wrote:

"Every moment this failed law stands, it not only hurts our military readiness and national security – it insults the dignity and equality of every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender American."

"Your email today will help us show your U.S. representative that the residents of recognize that – on the battlefield – it doesn't matter whether a soldier is lesbian, gay or straight. What matters is that a soldier gets the job done."

"After years of fighting to ensure that men and women in uniform can serve openly, we've never seen this much momentum for repeal. But our progress has been the right's battle cry – and at this pivotal moment, we can't leave a single vote to chance." 3

President Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention -- the largest fundamentalist Christian denomination in the U.S. -- issued his report on the expected DADT repeal. He wrote:

"This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to bring repeal legislation to the House floor for a vote as an attachment to the defense authorization bill. In the Senate, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) is likely to call for a vote on repeal in his committee before Memorial Day as well."

"This news comes just a few weeks after Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen expressed opposition to “any legislation that seeks to change this policy” until after the Pentagon completes its study on how such changes would affect the military. It also flies in the face of a plea last week from the American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans organization, to House leadership that repealing the policy now “would be detrimental to the security of our nation.” And, also troubling, repeal would allow changes to take effect prior to hearing from the troops themselves."

"In short, overturning the current policy would strain our forces, weaken troop morale, and propel countless chaplains to leave the services. Using our military to advance radical social policy is an affront to the greatness of our armed services." 4

Dr. Land appears to be grossly misinformed about the nature of the proposed bill. Democrats in the House and Senate are not planning on repealing DADT immediately. If the amendment passes, and is signed into law by the President, there will be no change in the 17 year old policy that discriminates against LGBT personell in the military, as Dr. Land has implied. Instead, the expected amendment will not come into effect until after the Department of Defense's Comprehensive Review is finished, and other criteria are met. The review is currently scheduled to be completed on 2010-DEC-01.

According to a letter from Director Peter R. Orszag of the White House's Office of Management and Budget:

"The proposed amendment will allow for completion of the Comprehensive Review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. The amendment will also guarantee that the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations needed to successfully implement the repeal. Further, such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thoroough understanding of their concern, insights, and suggestions. The Administration therefore supports the proposed amendment." 5

Specifically, the DADT policy will not be repealed until after the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group's report on implementing the change is issued. Then, before any change is made, and the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff must first sign a document assuring that the new policy is "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention."

The amendment is sponsored by Senator Joseph I Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-PA). A House vote is expected on 2010-MAY-27 for the spending bill which will probably contain the amendment. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to vote on its version of the spending bill which should also include the amendment.

Murphy and Lieberman have issued a joint statement saying:

"It is our firm belief that it is time to repeal this discriminatory policy that not only dishonors those who are willing to give their lives in service to their country but also prevents capable men and women with vital skills from serving in the armed forces." 1

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2010-MAY-27: Senate committee and full House votes to setup eventual repeal of DADT:

The Senate Armed Forces Committee voted early on the morning of MAY-27 to repeal the Don`t Ask Don`t Tell policy conditional on the issuance of the Pentagon report on the topic that is currently scheduled for 2010-DEC, and also conditional on confirmation that repeal of DADT would not affect the Armed Forces negatively. The vote was 16 to 12 for repeal. 15 Democrats and Senator Susan Collins (ME,R) voted for the bill. The committee then voted 18 to 10 to refer the bill to the full Senate.

This was followed a few hours later by the approval of the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 194. 229 Democrats and five Republicans supported the repeal amendment. 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats opposed it.

The full Senate will consider the bill later in the year.

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The story continues.....

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Michael D. Shear & Ed. O'Keefe, "Obama backs 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise that could pave way for repeal," Washington Post, 2010-MAY-25, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com
  2. `Senate panel, House approve 'don't ask, don't tell' compromise plan,`CNN, 2010-MAY-28, at:http://www.cnn.com/
  3. Joe Solomonese, "Act now: Congress to vote this week on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Email, 2010-MAY-25, 7:00 AM.
  4. Richard Land, "Action Alert -- Deal Reached to Overturn Policy on Homosexuals in the Military," ERLC, 2010-MAY-25, 12:57 PM.
  5. P.R. Orszag, letter to the honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, 2010-MAY-24, at: http://lieberman.senate.gov This is a PDF file.

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-MAY-25
Latest update: 2010-DEC-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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