Joe Mirabella

Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal Passes House and Senate Armed Service Committee, Soldiers Still at Risk

Filed By Joe Mirabella | May 28, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Afghanistan, DADT repeal, Dan Choi, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Iraq War, Lieberman, military, President Obama, Robert Byrd, vote

An amendment to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell passed the House of Representatives Thursday night with a vote of 234 to 194. 5 Republicans voted in favor of the Amendment. 229 Democratic Representatives voted in favor.

cspan.jpgThe Senate Armed Services Committee also voted in favor of the Amendment. The Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which describes itself "as a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," released the following statement:

"Chairman Carl Levin, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Rep. Patrick Murphy showed remarkable courage and steadfastness in the face of unprecedented and inappropriate last minute lobbying by the Pentagon service chiefs who seemed to have forgotten that they are not the policy makers here. That role in our government rightly belongs to Congress and it was properly exercised today in the dismantling of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

SLDN firmly reminded gay and lesbian service members not to come out yet:

It is important for all gay and lesbian, active-duty service members, including the reserves and the national guard, to know they're at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law that remains on the books. Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011. The bottom line: gay and lesbian service members remain at risk for discharge and cannot serve openly. [emphasis added]

While Thursday's vote is historic and should be celebrated, the path forward is murky. A repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell will not go into effect until "the Pentagon Working Group completes its report and the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President certifies repeal," the statement said.

In addition to the certification process, a 60 day waiting period was introduced by Senator Byrd. The waiting period serves no legitimate purpose, other than to delay the actual implementation of the repeal 60 days after the certification has completed. However, the compromise was necessary to get Senator Byrd's support for the repeal.

So when will gay and lesbian service members actually be able to live and serve openly without risking their careers? With all the hurdles, it could be as late as April 2011 for the entire process to complete.

Lt. Dan Choi, a gay service member and outspoken advocate for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" anticipated today's vote, and pledged Wednesday night via Twitter to begin a fast to hurry the process along. He tweeted:

The time has come to fast for Dignity and Equality. Demand #DADT firings, non-discrimination, end the study.

He continued:

A group of fasters and supporters will commence immediately following congress mark-ups.

President Obama issued a finessed statement that both celebrated the historic vote, while paying homage to the so-called "working group," that some think was designed to prevent Thursday's vote from happening this year.

I have long advocated that we repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell', and I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight. Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such I am grateful that the amendments offered by Representative Patrick Murphy and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin that passed today will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process. Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.

Hopefully after the military families get done informing their leaders about their feelings about gay and lesbian soldiers, they will have the same opportunity to express their feelings about their 5th or perhaps 6th tour of duty in Iraq -- a war that would have ended May 20, 2010 if President Obama kept his campaign promise to end the war within 16 months of taking office.

In March, the President revised his commitment and said, "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."

My hope is that no closeted gay or lesbian soldier dies in Iraq or Afghanistan while the overly lengthy "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal process concludes. What a shameful dishonor to their sacrifice that would be.

Yet, even while I was writing the last sentence of this post, an AP alert pushed to my phone announcing the 1000th death in Afghanistan. We will never know how many of them were forced to live a lie to die for their country.

Recent Entries Filed under Politics:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Call me naive, but I think it's pretty appalling that House Republicans voted along party lines to repeal the policy, with 168 opposed and only five in favor. I'm no partisan, but that's pretty despicable.

Civil rights should transcend partisanship. It's really sad and downright scary that this is untrue in that warped place called Capitol Hill.

I think Senator Byrd, and this anti-Repeal friends, won this "charade." His Amendment is NOT a "waiting period," it is a REVIEW. A Congressional "veto."

The result is the original plan for DADT Repeal: wait until after the mid-terms and Congress will decide THEN. Byrd preserved veto power for the anti-repeal crowd.

Senator Byrd's Statement:

“I did not want to blindly assent to repealing this law without giving the Congress an opportunity to re-examine the concerns of our Armed Forces and the manner in which they are being addressed.”

“Therefore, I worked with the Senate and House Leadership, Senators Lieberman and Levin, Congressman Murphy, the Administration and the Department of Defense to include a provision in the proposed compromise amendment that would delay the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell’ policy for 60 days after receipt of the findings of the Pentagon Review and the determination of the proposed policy and regulation changes.”

“This period of time will allow the Congress, along with the American people, to thoroughly review the proposed policy recommendations to ensure that these changes are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention for our Armed Forces.”

This charade is subject to Congressional "review" in December, right after the mid-terms.

The 112th Congress will determine the fate of DADT Repeal. As people begin to understand that reality, the Democrats and Republicans will be able to make appeals for contributions, which was always the plan. Get your checkbooks out.

Politics as usual. They can't make any money solving disputes. They have to come up with clever ways to defer them. This one was clever and very crafty.

DADT "repeal" has been deferred.


You are right, Byrd's amendment is a review, but it would require Congress to vote to stop the repeal, and the President would have to sign off on that vote. So functionally, it is a waiting period. That is unless Republicans miraculously win a veto proof majority this fall. I think Democrats are facing a tough election, but not that tough.

My understanding is that the eventual language will clearly state that "repeal is deferred until Congressional review." The so-called "compromise repeal" won't take effect unless it passes this "review." The "review" is the "veto," held by Congress, and doesn't require the passing of a new Bill that would then be subject to the President's veto.

The details of this will be debated in the next week along with the threatened filibuster and those jet engines Obama doesn't want.

It will either 1) fall apart, 2) get filibustered or 3) pass. But, ALL 3 outcomes put dealing with DADT Repeal off until after the mid-terms. No surprise.

You are right on all three points. From what I what I understand, the 60 day review is similar to the 60 day review that was put in place following the passage of marriage equality in DC. They have the option to act, but have the option not to act as well. Nanci Pelosi would have to bring a vote to the House Floor to stop the repeal. I just can't see that happening.

I'm far more concerned about the filibuster. McCain and his cronies are hell bent on stopping this bill. Furthermore the President vowed to veto any DFA bill that included the jet engines, which could force Congress to retool the whole bill.

Nothing is ever easy, is it?

Rob Randhava | May 28, 2010 4:21 PM

I'd like to see the language of the Byrd amendment, but if it's like the DC Congressional review, you're right that it shouldn't be cause for any serious concern. Defenders of DADT would have to do really, really well in the election this fall - and even then, they wouldn't have much time. That's assuming that this veto power is in the conference report - it wasn't in the House version.

I assume Levin & Lieberman anticipated a filibuster all along . . .

For once I agree with some of what Andrew has to say. The repeal has been delayed and the next Congress will, it appears, get a say. Of course I said that the goal of this administration was to wait until after the elections months ago. It was obvious and did not take a fortune teller. Now who knows what will happen. I am happy a step was taken but the fact that so much is uncertain in the future is scary. I do think contrary to what some on the board have said that calling and emailing our senators or representatives has changed minds and has helped. For instance, Senator Bayh who was unsure voted for this in the committee. As for McCain, I am disgusted by him for his stand and I hope his daughter is as well.

The first test is the Senate vote in the next week (or longer). That's the 60 vote Filibuster test. Plus, the House and Senate versions have a few big differences, including the jet engines in the House version that Obama said he would veto.

Like a perfect political storm, the "decision" on DADT repeal belongs to the 112th Congress - IF it even makes it that far. Both the Senate and the House risk losing Democratic majorities in November.

I don't think there is anything to celebrate here. The whole issue is going to be deferred until AFTER the mid-terms and AFTER the "study" is completed.

We seem to be suggesting that this non-compromise, non-repeal DELAY is an accomplishment. It is exactly what was agreed to back in February. What we rejected then, we are celebrating now. How odd.

Is it the Apocalypse?!? Indiana House Democrat Brad Ellsworth voted in favor of the repeal. What's next, a national holiday in memory of Harvey Milk...

Plus, he's running for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Evan Bayh (& don't let the door hit your butt on the way out, Evan).

Ellsworth only voted for this first step towards repeal to try to get some gay votes. I am sure it will work. But will he actually vote for repeal as a senator if it comes back up? Or will he vote for ENDA or the end of DOMA? No vote from me with his record unless he does.

Now, the demands for money begin:

This is NOT over by a long shot. We've got big plans to stop John McCain and the Family Research Council -- but we can't launch our campaign without your financial support. To win, we have to fight back immediately. Whether it's $5 or $500, we need your help right now!

The HRC and DNC emails haven't arrived yet.

As of today, the Republicans have enough votes for filibuster - 41. This includes Jim Webb and Mark Pryor.

I think the Republicans will push this one vigorously and prevent the approval of the Defense funding because the "Compromise Repeal" can be easily spun as "ignoring Military Leaders" and "shirking Congressional responsibility," not to mention the usual 'fear the homosexuals' crap.

It's hard to defend the non-compromise, non-repeal charade because it says "let's decide NOW, and then look at the study in a few months." That's easy enough for most people to understand.

Rick Sours | June 1, 2010 8:21 AM

A couple we know presented an outstanding justification why the repeat of Don't Ask Don't Tell should be delayed. There are individuals from many parts of world who are serving in the US military. According to their culture and or religion, they are uncomfortable with homosexuality. We should always respect diversity and to allow Gays to serve openly is disrespectful to these individuals.

"According to their culture and or religion, they are uncomfortable with homosexuality."

Tell them to grow up.

Equality is diversity. It is a basic human principle that trumps all religious "stories." They are welcome to join humanity and respect ALL people equally, or remain stuck in the past.