Today a coalition of groups working on repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law released a joint statement pointing out that momentum for repeal in the lame duck session of Congress is continuing. The statement from the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Servicemembers United, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Third Way came after last evening’s reaffirmation of the Senate leadership and the White House’s commitment to end DADT, along with this morning’s Senate press conference.
There is no reason why the Senate cannot complete the work of repeal this year which is supported by nearly eighty percent of Americans, said the groups.
This morning, advocates joined Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roland Burris (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in calling for action on the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which DADT repeal is attached – before the end of the year. Sen. Lieberman said, “We are here to make clear that the reports of death of the movement to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ have been greatly exaggerated”
Last evening, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) welcomed the Majority Leader’s announcement of his intention to bring the NDAA to the floor following the Thanksgiving recess. He announced he would hold a hearing in early December on the report of the Pentagon Working Group studying DADT implementation. Media reports on a draft copy of the report last week indicated that troops are not opposed to repeal and that doing away with the policy will be a non-event for the military – an expectation buttressed by the experiences of other countries that have repealed gay bans including the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel.
At a confirmation hearing this morning for Gen. Carter Ham, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), who originally voted against DADT repeal in committee but for the NDAA, said: “I can’t, again having spent five years in the Pentagon; I can’t remember a study on this type of issue that has been done with this sort of care. Not even having seen it or knowing the results, but I know the preparation that went into it. So it’s going to be a very important study for us to look at and examine.” Gen. Ham concurred saying the study was, “the most comprehensive assessment of a personnel policy matter that the Department of Defense has conducted.”
At the Pentagon, spokesman Geoff Morrell today reinforced the Pentagon’s support for repeal this year saying, “that’s what we as an administration are pushing for, and we certainly see the merit in using that as the legislative vehicle to ultimately get to repeal.”