There was huge news out of Washington on Monday night, as it looks like the White House has signed off on a proposal to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” by delaying implementation of the change until after the Pentagon completes its working group study.
The proposed repeal of DADT has been in doubt for weeks, after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was opposed to lifting the policy before the study is completed in December. However, this green light from the White House paves the way for the House and Senate to take up the repeal later this week.
The White House on Monday night issued a Statement of Administration Policy in support of the delayed implementation proposal, which was submitted by congressional leaders who are committed to a legislative repeal this year.
“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement. “The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week. President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.
“If enacted this welcomed compromise will create a process for the President and the Pentagon to implement a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country openly, hopefully within a matter of a few months,” Sarvis said. “This builds upon the support Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed for open service during the February hearing in the Senate, and further underscores that this Administration is committed to open service.”
Earlier in the day, three key lawmakers who support a repeal of DADT this year submitted a letter to the White House seeking input on the delayed implementation amendment, according to The Advocate.
“Given the important efforts of the working group, we have developed a legislative proposal for consideration by the House and Senate that puts a process in place to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ once the working group has completed its review and you, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify that repeal can be achieved consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention,” wrote Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania. “We appreciate the input you and the Pentagon have provided throughout this process and request the Administration’s official views on our legislative proposal.”
The White House responded as follows:
“The Administration is of the view that the proposed amendment meets the concerns raised by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” wrote Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The New York Times has more.