Guest Blogger

The Clock is Ticking on DADT

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 07, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, sldn, Victor Fehrenbach

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Paul DeMiglio is the Senior Communications Manager for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a national, non-profit legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

The time to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is long overdue. Service members are being fired -- almost two per day -- because they are gay or lesbian. So far, 13,000 have been kicked out under DADT.

Victor Fehrenbach 3.jpg

The experience of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is a painful reminder of how this law harms qualified patriots and denies LGBT Americans the freedom to serve. A highly decorated, F-15E combat aviator, Fehrenbach has earned nine Air Medals, including one for Heroism, throughout his 18-year career. He was hand-picked to protect the airspace over Washington, D.C. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Despite his impeccable record of service, Fehrenbach, who is currently on active duty, will likely be losing his career and $3 million in retirement pay.

The country is ready. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in the 16 years since DADT was first signed into law. For the first time, a clear majority of both conservatives and liberals agree that DADT has got to go. A June Gallup poll in fact shows that 69 percent of the American people - including 58 percent of conservatives and 58 percent of churchgoers - believe gays and lesbians should serve openly. DADT is no longer the controversial, hot-button issue it used to be. 2009 is not 1993.

In the military, views on DADT are largely divided along generational lines. Younger service members in their 20s and 30s - the future of military leadership - largely feel comfortable serving alongside their gay and lesbian comrades.

We need to see and hear more from this White House. As a key player in the legislative process, President Obama can help by publicly endorsing HR 1283, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act.

Members of the House of Representatives should cosponsor this bill, now championed by Iraq veteran Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA). The bill already has a record number of 168 cosponsors, but we need to reach the magic number of 218 in the coming weeks. For this, we need your help. If you or your friends have not done so, get in touch with your representative to ensure he or she has signed on as a cosponsor.

And it's good news that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has agreed to a DADT hearing this fall - the first in the Senate in 16 years.

The sense of urgency to repeal DADT is palpable. Let's get this done now.

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Jim Fuller, USN Ret. | August 7, 2009 3:05 PM

If SLDN is so "dedicated to ending DADT" and there's a "palpable "sense of urgency, why the hell does this article say NOTHING about demanding Obama use his LEGAL powers under 10 US 12305 or those of the Secretary of Defense under the parameters of DADT to stop discharges NOW----as has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Cong. Alycee Hastings and 76 other members of Congress, HRC, NGLTF, American Veterans for Equal Rights, Servicemembers United, the New York Times, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Anderson Cooper, numerous other commentators, and the traditional source for the majority of the research SLDN has quoted over the years, the Palm Center?

WHY is SLDN continuing to promote only the limp "repeal only" approach that resulted in their being one of those groups described in the Palm Center's recent scathing report: “A Self-Inflicted Wound: How and Why Gays Give the White House a Free Pass on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and identified in a recent "Washington Blade" article. [HRC became more aggressive while SLDN is still singing the same old tired tune.]
Palm Center: "Every ounce of activism directed towards the exclusive legislative strategy as opposed to the two-part strategy enhances the ability of the White House to invoke its old pass-the-buck defense which was so effective for the first few months of the administration, before the two-part strategy was raised in public. Calling for an exclusive emphasis on legislative repeal is perhaps the greatest gift gay rights groups could give the White House. And it’s a slap in the face to service members like Lt. Dan Choi, whose careers are in peril right NOW.

The two-part strategy was working. As soon as the public learned that President Obama could suspend the gay ban with the stroke of a pen, the tone of media coverage shifted immediately from “isn’t it terrible to fire gay Arabic linguists” to “why isn’t President Obama doing anything.”

. . . Sadly, at the very moment that discussion of the two-part strategy started to disable the political stalemate surrounding “don’t ask, don’t tell”, some gay and gay-friendly activists, journalists and politicos have let up pressure on the White House by resisting executive action, and insisting on an exclusive focus on legislative repeal. . . .

If a unified community held the President accountable for his recent, misleading remarks about why he will not sign an executive order, we would maximize the chances for unlocking the stalemate in Washington and again see momentum toward an outcome that has been elusive for more than fifteen years."

The full report that documents the damage that resulted from such gay fear of REALLY pressuring the president-for who knows what reason-can be read at the link below, blowing up the myth that SLDN is still the lead in fighting to help their own clients like Fehrenbach.

Now I understand why the recent gay vets in Servicemembers United group partnered with HRC rather than SLDN for their past and current voter education tours.


"Gay and lesbian. Gay and lesbian. Gay and lesbian." You do realize that bisexual people were also kicked out under DADT. Oh, and some of those 13,000 people were straight transgender people, because the military thinks that if you want to change your sex of just want to wear woman's clothes, you have to be gay. You want proof, go to:

Let's stop being exclusive in your thinking on this issue, or the DoD will figure out ways to screw transgender service members even worse, once DADT is repealed.

Monica Helms
President, Transgender American Veterans Association

Tom Cotner | August 8, 2009 8:40 AM

You can scream about this until hell freezes over, but the truth of the matter is that congresspersons listen only to people who send them money. So far, the people who do not want to repeal DADT, or DOMA, either, for instance, send them more money than people who do.
Get with it, everyone -- cut off their money. Don't send them a dime until something is done to eliminate this blot on our society.

While I agree, in part, with Jim and Tom, the awful truth is that ending DADT is out of our hands. No civilian organization can force either branch of the government, Executive nor Legislative, to act responsibly. Petitions and protests have proven ineffective. I'm broke so I can't scare them with the threat of cutting off my funding. We must face the fact that our government is paralyzed and will remain so as long as it's to their advantage. A possible solution?...

The end of DADT is in the hands of active duty service members. Only they can end DADT. Unfortunately, this can only remain a dream of CCCO because it is illegal for anyone to "organize" members of the military. We dream that one day every lesbian, gay, bisexual AND transgender service member will stand up together, faithful - unbowed - known, and say "fukdadt".