November 8, 2010
by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign
There were several key developments this weekend for advocates seeking to push a vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” during the lame-duck session of Congress, including Defense Secretary Gates voicing his support for the repeal. “I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are,” Secretary Gates told the AP on Saturday.
However, as Kerry Eleveld reports for the Advocate, Secretary Gates support comes at a time when it’s uncertain what impact they might have:
Over the weekend, observers of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debate began cautiously acknowledging that an effort is in the works to potentially move a stripped down version of the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that would exclude repeal.
A person close to the process said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is looking into a deal with Sec. Gates that would cut ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ out of the Defense bill in order to smooth its way to passage.
“Levin is making calls under the premise – we can’t afford to waste time on a controversial provision, so we’ll strip out the controversial provision and be able to get the bill on and off the floor in the available amount of time,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Despite Gates support, and the uncertainty of if DADT will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote, Gen. James Amos, Marine Commandant, reiterated his oposition to lifting the ban, telling the Los Angeles Times:
“There’s risk involved,” Amos said. “I’m trying to determine how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness.”
According to the Army Times, Amos’ opposition came as news to Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who told reporters he was “surprised by what he[Amos] said and surprised he said it publicly.” Especially after the service chiefs had agreed to “look at the data and then make our recommendations privately.”
In response to mixed signals from the Obama Administration on its commitment to prioritize repealing DADT, Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, issued the following statement:
“President Obama and his spokesman have had several opportunities to publicly declare the administration’s set of priorities for the lame duck session of Congress. Unfortunately, completing the defense authorization bill has not been included among those priorities,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “These omissions stand in stark contrast to what the President and his staff are saying elsewhere. Mr. President, either your administration is with us or its against us, and a mediocre level of public advocacy from your White House is not standing with us.”
As for those of us here at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, we remain hopeful that there will be movement on this critical issue soon, and will continue to bring you the latest updates as they continue to develop.
UPDATE BY EDEN: Karen Ocamb has more on DADT at LGBTPOV, including this update on the SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy’s response to the Log Cabin Republicans’ attempt to overturn the stay from the 9th Circuit:
Meanwhile, the Log Cabin Republicans lawsuit against the government challenging the constitutionality of DADT took another bold turn. On Friday, attorney Dan Woods, who has represented LCR since the case was first filed in 2004, asked the US Supreme Court overrule the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to keep DADT in effect while the case winds its way through the judicial system. The 9th Circuit was responding to an appeal by the Department of Justice to stay an injunction against further enforcement of DADT ordered by District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, who ruled that DADT is unconstitutional and harms the military and gay soldiers.
Justice Anthony Kennedy told the Justice Department to file its response to the LCR’s motion by 5:00pm Eastern time on Wednesday. According to the Washington Post, Kennedy handles appeals from the 9th Circuit and “he can either rule on the case on his own or refer it to the entire court.”
“The 9th Circuit order was arbitrary and an abuse of discretion and should be vacated immediately,” said Woods said in a statement. “We continue to look forward to the day when all Americans can serve in our military without regard to their sexual orientation.”
Harvard Law School graduate Ari Ezra Waldman, who is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, has an analysis of the LCR filing at Towleroad.