It may yet be too soon to call victory, but as of today, it seems all systems are ‘go’ in terms of repealing the ban of gay and lesbian servicemembers in the armed forces–a policy otherwise known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Late breaking yesterday, it seems that LGBT leaders met with the White House on new repeal bill language, who then met with Congressional leaders (who already had enough votes to add the repeal language to the Department of Defense Authorization–a must pass bill) who then, in turn, wrote a letter to the Pentagon asking about the new language, who in turn responded. Positively.
APOLOGY: A LOT HAS HAPPENED AND THIS MAY BE A BIT CONFUSING. HOWEVER, I’VE INCLUDED IN-DEPTH EXPLANATION AND A FEW IMPORTANT LINKS IF YOU WANT TO DIG DEEPER!
According to a Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Press Release, “Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran, attended a meeting with White House officials and advocates this morning (Monday). [Later Monday] evening, the White House released a statement outlining its policy position on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in response to a letter from Congressional leaders.”
Aubrey Sarvis released the following statement:
“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.”
The plan does not guarantee an end to the ban, however. Though the chances are slim that the Pentagon will actually reverse course, the new language still gives them the option to take as long as “needed” to integrate the armed forces, which means that a full repeal could take years. However, the language will remove the United States law that bars military service from gay and lesbian servicemembers, and empowers the Pentagon to integrate the military when its study is complete in December.
The key point here is Secretary Gates and President Barack Obama’s full support for this version of the bill. Though he had vowed heartily in his campaign to end the ban on gays and lesbians in the military, President Obama–along with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates–sent mixed messages to Congress when it looked as if the Hill would be passing the repeal law this year. Secretary Gates, who is currently conducting a study of how best to integrate the military, asked Congress to take the unusual step of waiting for his study to be over to repeal the law, though the law’s repeal would not interfere with the study, nor the Pentagon’s control of the implementation of integration.
The newest language in the bill does not include non-discrimination language, which means that, though discrimination would not be Federal Laws as it is now, it could still continue to be Pentagon policy for some time. However, getting the repeal passed this year would make integration of the military no longer just possible, but inevitable.
Activists are no doubt looking to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act now as a further vehicle to attempt to lead to non-discrimination language that covers military personnel as well, though the current draft of that bill does not include such language, as the writers assumed the Military Readiness Enhancement Act–the name for the DADT repeal bill–would include such language.
The Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the Defense Authorization bill is scheduled for Thursday, MAY 27. The House’s markup may be even sooner. If you support the repeal, you are encouraged to contact the following Senators, especially if you live in their state:
–Scott Brown, MA
–Evan Bayh, IN
–Robert Byrd, WV
–Jim Webb, VA
–Ben Nelson, NE
–Bill Nelson, FL
You can contact a Senator by calling the Congressional switchboard at (202)224-3121