BREAKING NEWS: Deal possible on DADT

Posted on 24 May 2010 at 12:04pm

The Advocate is reporting that representatives from Congress, the White House and LGBT groups were working on a deal this morning that would allow a legislative repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” to go forward this year. The proposed repeal of the military’s ban on open service is expected to be considered in both the House and Senate later in the week. From The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld:

LGBT groups met with officials at the White House while legislative affairs representatives from the White House and the Department of Defense met with the House and Senate leadership offices on Capitol Hill along with those of Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sens. Carl Levin and Joseph Lieberman.

A White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the White House meeting. “Our understanding is that Congress is determined to act this week and we are learning more about their proposal now,” said the aide.

A Democratic leadership aide called the development “promising” but said discussions were ongoing. The House Democratic leadership is expected to meet about the proposal later this afternoon.

According to one person familiar with the White House meeting, the proposal that is being considered would legislatively repeal the statute this year, but the current policy would remain in place and implementation of repeal would not occur until after the Pentagon’s working group study is finished in December. Further, completion of repeal would require certification from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen that the new law will not have a negative impact on readiness, recruitment, retention and other key factors that affect the military.

Also this morning, we received an update on the DADT repeal from Dave Guy-Gainer, a Tarrant County resident who serves on the board of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. I’ve posted Guy-Gainer’s update after the jump.

I am reminded a bit  of the feeling one has when they have turned in their final work toward an advanced degree or have had their final interview for that job of a lifetime. There is nothing to do but wait and see if your efforts were enough to pass the scrutiny of the review committee. The FULL repeal of DADT has reached that juncture. Over the next 72-96 hours it is most likely that the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House of Representatives will be voting on initiatives that will either end discrimination in our military or will leave the issue to be resolved by some future Congress and some future President.

At issue is the study being conducted by the DOD Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG). Remember that the charter of the CRWG is to study “how” to implement repeal  not “if” repeal will happen. Major opponents of ending discrimination  have come on line in the last few days saying “take no action until the CRWG has completed its study in December 2010.” The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Retired Officers Association are loudly tattooing this message on the Hill.

Proponents of repeal have modified the language of the repeal bills. The new language repeals DADT effective on signing but does not implement the change until after the CRWG completes its work in December 2010. The language provides a timeline and date certain as to when LGB patriots will be allowed to serve with pride.

The path of least resistance is to append repeal to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee declined do so.  In the House, it will now take a floor vote to append. The Senate Armed Services Committee could append repeal to its version of the Authorizations Act.  That decision will be made by 28 Senators within hours of this writing. Should the SASC decline to  append, the next hope for repeal this session is a FULL floor vote in the House.

The White House is not engaged in today’s battle but is sticking to their support of the Gate’s to Rep. Skelton letter asking that no Congressional action be taken until after the CRWG report is issued in December.

But, unlike that degree or job decision, there is plenty we can do. Trust me, the core group is very very active in working with the House, Senate, DOD, and the White House as this battle ensues.  It has become at this point a 24×7 battle. A win for DADT is a win for LGBT equality and will help fan the fires of support for the issues that are staged alongside it like a fully inclusive ENDA and the repeal of DOMA. A DADT loss this week will push it into an election year Congress, a new congressional make up after Jan 2011 and a President who will go into re-election mode for 2012.  It must be addressed this year, with this Congress and with this President!

Every LGBT individual, every LGBT organization, every straight alliance, every accepting church, and everyone who favors this repeal should be on their phones, faxes, emails,  running ads, and influencing every member of the SASC, every member of the House, every member of the Senate, and very importantly reminding  the President who said in November 2007  “As president, I will work with Congress and place the weight of my administration behind enactment of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which will make nondiscrimination the official policy of the U.S. military. … America is ready to get rid of the Don’t Ask, Dont Tell policy. All that is required is leadership.”

We have 96 hours that are counting down!

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