Alex Blaze

We're not even laser-focused on jobs

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 04, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, gays in the military, Jillian T. Weiss, LGBT

The executive branch is saying that it'll take a year to study the implementation of a repeal to DADT, and the legislative branch is apparently not even going to try to come up with an excuse for ignoring DADT until 2011:

WASHINGTON -- For many lawmakers, "don't ask, don't tell" makes a lot of sense - for themselves. Ten months before elections, neither party sees much to gain in stirring up the once-volatile issue of letting gays serve openly in the military. Any candidate who isn't laser-focused on jobs is making a big mistake, strategists from both parties said Wednesday, noting that public support for gay rights has grown substantially in recent years.[...]

Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said nothing about the proposed policy change, which he personally opposes, despite having a perfect platform for doing so Wednesday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen testified before Skelton's committee, and they received only a smattering of questions or comments from lawmakers about the topic that dominated their testimony before senators a day earlier.

The article doesn't say who in Congress is saying that DADT won't be considered, or which political advisers think that Democrats should stay away from it in an election year. In fact, the only people quoted for the article are Republicans saying that Obama should focus on jobs (as if they're going to support and vote for another stimulus package).

The Washington Post also says that they Dems are leaving DADT repeal up to their most timid members:

It's certainly possible that the gays and military subject will arise in some congressional campaigns this year. House Democratic leaders said they will quietly sound out their more moderate and politically vulnerable members before deciding when to seek a vote to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

So it's dead, and there's no really good reason since DADT isn't going to be a major campaign issue this fall no matter what happens. People are worried about jobs and the economy, not whether someone in the military is allowed to say they're gay or just be gay.

Just to refresh our memories, here's what the Defense Department said this week:

Any change in the policy would not come any time soon, the two officials made clear. Both Admiral Mullen and Mr. Gates told the committee that there would be a Pentagon review, taking up to a year, to study how to implement any change before they expected Congress to act on a repeal.

"Up to a year"? That's suspiciously close to how far away the midterm elections are. Funny how that worked out.

It's looking like Jillian's right - this is a shell game. Hold a hearing on DADT, have Obama mention it, not ENDA, in the State of the Union, and the gays look over there while ENDA gets back-burnered until after the election. Hell, they'll even participate by creating a media blitz on DADT at the same time, forgetting that ENDA even existed. Forget the fact that they're pretty much saying DADT won't happen until 2011 either with this other card they want you to follow (we'll find out soon what that is).

Democrats don't intend to act on DADT this year. They're further along on ENDA, which had hearings in both houses of Congress and was introduced as a bill in both of them, and it's been shelved. I have no idea why, but they seem to think an election year is a bad time to do DADT even though it polls well and their specific reason for opposing putting it up this year - that the public cares more about jobs, which is true - is a good reason how it could easily get in under the radar.

Personally, I think it is good that the Defense Department may be enforcing DADT less strictly and that discharges are down in 2009 compared to where they were under Bush in 2008. Some people's lives are being improved with that. It's not perfect, but it's something, and if the point of agitating against DADT is to improve the lives of the people who work in the military, then we should be willing to acknowledge the "somethings" even if we don't get everything.

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The unemployement rate reduced from 10 to 9.7 according to report this month.