There are conflicting opinions coming out of the Military and the Administration on when to move forward on a repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Pentagon legal counsel for Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are saying to wait on the repeal at least another year according to the AP:
"Now is not the time," the in-house legal counsel for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote recently in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press. "The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns, demand that we act with deliberation."
Mullen received the conflicting advice this month about whether to move quickly to lift the 1993 ban, and it is not clear what he will recommend to President Barack Obama. Although allowing gays to serve openly in the military was one of Obama's campaign promises, the issue was put on a back burner during his first year in office. Some liberal supporters and several congressional Democrats are pushing for action.
Pushing back the repeal effort would put it right in the middle of 2012, an election year that might make weak-spined legislators less than enthusiastic about supporting it.
This call for more foot dragging comes on the heels of the reporting Tuesday that a repeal would be added to the upcoming defense authorization bill, a move reportedly supported by the White House:
Congressional negotiators and White House officials are moving forward with plans to add the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell to the upcoming defense authorization bill, Democratic sources tell the Huffington Post.
At this juncture, aides say, the prospects look good. Meanwhile, a source close to the White House says the president has instructed the Defense Department that he believes the repeal of DADT should be placed in the authorization bill.
Will the in-house council advice give cover to weak law-makers to say "now is not the time for repeal", even though we are fighting multiple wars and losing qualified soldiers (including in understaffed areas like linguists and strategists)? Will political weakness continue to kick the repeal further into the future?
Not if the White House, Congressional Leaders, and Military Leaders come forward and take strong stands on repealing a law that is not only discriminatory, but makes us weaker as a country.
Now is when we need our "Fierce Advocates" to stand and deliver on promises that were made to do what is right and not get cold feet when it comes to equality for our soldiers bravely serving our country.
(Big Hat Tip to Joe.My.God and Steve Rothaus at the Miami Herald)