DADT update

Posted on 01 Dec 2010 at 12:44am

Thumbnail link: Huffington Post's 'Asked And Told: Pentagon's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Study Backs Repeal'Update:  Wow, check this out from the Department of Defense’s website.  Yes, the DOD website (emphasis added):

Leaders Can Pave Way for Openly Gay Troops, General Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2010 – A change in the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military can be implemented without irreparable harm, the co-chair of a Pentagon working group that studied the matter said yesterday.

It’s my belief, having now looked this matter extensively over nine months, that the leaders of our services — all services, all components — are so good today, so experienced today, that they can effectively implement this change, maintain unit cohesion, and a strong focus on mission accomplishment,” Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said. [snip]

If the law is overturned, they said, the services will need to increase costs in training and education, but should not incur the high cost of creating separate facilities, as has been discussed.

We strongly recommend against establishing separate facilities,” Ham said. “We think that is the wrong direction for the Department of Defense.” [snip]

Johnson said Congress should change the Uniform Code of Military Justice to remove language forbidding consensual sodomy. The change should be made regardless of whether the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law is overturned to put the UCMJ in agreement with a seven-year-old Supreme Court decision, he said.

The report further recommends that all servicemembers who were discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should be permitted to re-enlist. “The fact that they were separated pursuant to this law should be set aside as irrelevant,” Johnson said.

My raw report from a press call this morning with SLDN.  Getting this to you asap then dashing to work! -Lurleen

UPDATE FROM PAM: Here is Rachel on the report.

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Seventeen years ago this very day President Clinton signed “don’t ask, don’t tell” into law.  This morning briefers from the Pentagon briefed Senate staffers on the forthcoming Comprehensive Working Group Report.  And executive summary of the will be released at 1 pm today with a press conference expected at 2 pm.

According to a Aubrey Sarvis at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the expectation is that the report will be overwhelmingly positive and very constructive and one of best tools repeal advocates can use during the next 2-3 weeks in the Senate.  The findings have been described as “exhaustive”.  SLDN is confident that the report will indicate that after repeal, implementation is needed quickly and leadership needs to move quickly on education and framing.

So what happens next?  The Senate Armed Services Committee will be holding hearings this Thursday and Friday (details below fold).  SLDN expects the hearings to be positive and a great catalyst for Majority Leader Reid to revisit the National Defense Authorization Act to which it is attached bill early next week.  Pockets of resistance are expected during the hearings when service chiefs testify on Friday, but SLDN’s Sarvis emphasizes that without exception each chief is on record having said that if repeal happens they will implement it.
Once the NDAA comes up for reconsideration next week, Sen. McCain is expected to object.  Sen. Reid has already indicated that Sen. McCain will have the ability to offer an amendment that would strip repeal language from NDAA, but this is not a concern because Reid doesn’t believe that McCain can get the 51 votes he would need.

NDAA still the preferred vehicle for repeal because the clock is running out on this congress and NDAA has to move more than other bills.  We want to be on the bill that’s moving.

To get needed buy-in from some Republicans, Majority Leader Reid has to allow a number of amendments to be offered by on each side.  The number is still under discussion (10-20?) but needs to be fair given the limited time left in this session.  Since the elections there is more pressure from the Republican caucus to view this as a caucus issue and to maintain discipline and not allow anything to happen during lame duck.  But, says Sarvis, there are some Republican senators who won’t go along with that as long as they feel there is fair play by Reid concerning allowing a reasonable number of amendments to be offered.

The White House:  There was recently a “very productive” meeting with key players from the White House and Sen. Reid’s office.  Sarvis described it as “Aggressive White House participation on how to move this in lame duck.”  Sarvis says that the President “=deserves a lot of credit for what taking place today.  He did engage Mullens and Gates and got the initial process going.  In SLDN’s view the process has been too protracted, but in terms of what we’ll hear today they anticipate it will be quite extraordinary.  The president, says Sarvis, is very process-oriented and has every reason to be proud, but of course SLDN though a more compressed time frame would have been best and as an advocay organization would always like to see the President do more.

In terms of a good-faith effort from Majority leader Reid there are encouraging signs.  For example he won’t try to attach the DREAM act to the NDAA and has assured Sen. McCain that there will be time for his amendment to strike.  The number of allowed amendments is still being worked out, but Reid is not expected to allow Sen Mitch McConnell to say anything was unfair.  People with Republican senators  should call them and ask “What do you think constitutes a fair process?  How many amendments do you need to vote to proceed?”  We don’t want to allow senators to use the process as excuse not to be with us.  A list of key senators is below.

Direct participation from Secretary of Defense Gates is not expected, but he has twice called upon the Senate to act to repeal DADT during lame duck.  In addition, Sen. Collins has requested a one-on-one meeting with him regarding the report being released today.  Gates would likely be similarly available to others senators if they make such requests.

All Democrats who voted yes last time are still there although Sen. Webb wants to see the report before making decisions.  Sen. Kirk from IL also wants to see the report first and it it looks favorable he should be with us, but he has said previously that nothing should happen in the lame duck session so nobody is taking his vote to bank yet.  Blanche Lincoln will be there on the question of taking the NDAA bill back up.  Pryor probably not there.  Repeal will not happen unless a few Republicans stand up and say “repeal”.  This won’t happen without some Republicans.

Since it would be difficult to effect DADT repeal in the next congress, SLDN is pushing to get the job done now during the lame duck session.  However, they are not waiting for the outcome of the lame duck session and are pursuing a dual track in the courts.  Early next week SLDN will probably file litigation in 9th Circuit in northern California on behalf of discharged servicemembers like who want to be reinstated and get their their jobs back.  

SLDN also plans to file two other lawsuits, one on behalf of discharged servicemembers who don’t want their old job back but who would like back in the military, for example as reservists.  The other on behalf of young people who would volunteer for service if DADT weren’t in place.

Sen. McCain continues to repeat the assertion that the military is not violating the “don’t pursue” provisions of law.  In an attempt to try to correct that mis-perception, Former Major Mike Almy who was discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 2006 made daily attempts in September to contact Sen. McCain, to no avail.  Others, including two flag officers living in AZ have similarly tried and been unsuccessful in gatting a meeting with Sen. McCain to discuss his views.  Sen. Lindsay Graham, a retired Air Force JAG sat silently next to McCain during the September interview where McCain blew up at The Advocate‘s Kerry Eleveld.  Graham has been similarly unavailable for constituent meetings on this subject.  According to SLDN this issue of the military never being held to account for transgressing the “dont pursue” part of the DADT law may come up in the hearings this week.

And what of “religious liberties” of anti-gay military chaplains?  The report, says Sarvis, recognizes that the military is currently made up of servicemenbers of differing values and religious views.  Open service for LGBs wouldn’t change that in any way.  The mission is paramount.  Open service won’t threaten that mission.  Unlike the debate 17 yrs ago some of the chaplains haven’t gotten traction this time around, says Sarvis, who believes that this issues is addressed in report and largely dismissed.

On a final note, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, USAF, says that in the report we will see that 70% of active duty military support repeal of DADT and 92% know they’re serving with LGB soldiers.  His own experience as an out, active duty soldier is that there is 100% support for open service in real life.

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* Thurs, DEC 2: Hearing by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the report begins at 9 a.m. in SD-G50/ Dirksen Senate Office Building;

* APPEARING DAY 1: Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense; Honorable Jeh C. Johnson, General Counsel, Department of Defense and Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group; Admiral Michael G. Mullen, USN, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Carter F. Ham, USA, Commander, United States Army Europe and Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group;

* Fri, DEC 3: Hearing by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the report begins at 9 a.m. in SD-G50/ Dirksen Senate Office Building.

* APPEARING DAY 2: General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General George W. Casey, Jr., USA, Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Gary Roughead, USN, Chief of Naval Operations; General James F. Amos, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps; General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Key senators who need to hear from repeal supporters!

–Harry Reid (D-NV);

–Susan Collins (R-ME);

–Olympia Snowe (R-ME);

–Mark Pryor (D-AR.);

–Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

–Richard Lugar (R-IN);

–Judd Gregg (R-NH);

–Scott Brown (R-MA)

–George Voinovich (R-OH);

–Kit Bond (R-MO);

–Joe Manchin (D-WV)

–Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

–Mark Kirk (R-IL)

–James Webb (D-VA)
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