Never say die: House Armed Services committee members try again to delay DADT repeal

You gotta give it to those right-wingers; they are some persistent folk.

Rep. Buck McKeon, left, and Rep. Joe Wilson

On Monday, Sept. 12, less than 10 days until the date set for repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule to finally go into effect, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California, and Military Personnel Subcommittee Chair Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, tried one more time to keep the repeal from happening. The two sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, claiming that repeal can’t happen yet because “all the policies and regulations necessary for the transition are not yet final,” according to Lisa Keen with Keen News Service.

As Keen reports, McKeon and Wilson were particularly concerned that the Department of Defense had not yet sent them “revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal.”

(Just a side note: Wilson is the guy who made headlines in 2009 when, during a speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress, he hollered out,”You lie!” He later apologized to the president, but was officially rebuked by his congressional colleagues.)

A DOD spokeswoman said Thursday, Sept. 17, that DOD officials have, indeed, apprised Congress of all the changes to policies and regulations associated with DADT repeal, that none of the service secretaries, service chiefs or combatant commanders had long ago submitted all their recommendations regarding repeal, that none of those folks had suggested a delay, and that repeal will most definitely go ahead as planned next Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Let’s hope the DOD folks are right and the right-wingers don’t manage to find a way to stall things, because DADT repeal parties have been planned across the country for next Tuesday, including one at Resource Center Dallas (and later at Pekers). Gay Air Force veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network board member David Guy Gainer will be at the RCD event, donating his collection of materials related to DADT and its repeal to the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Library.

And while this will certainly be a day for celebration, SLDN is warning lesbians and gays still on active duty in the military that there are still plenty of dos and don’ts for them to keep in mind. You can read the SLDN’s guidelines on what parties lesbian and gay servicemembers should and shouldn’t attend here.

—  admin

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison isn't saying whether she'll support DADT repeal, but we doubt it

kay-bailey-hutchison
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas

We’ve received no response from Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office to our weeks-old inquiry about whether she’ll support an amendment that would begin the process of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” But local activist Elizabeth Parker says she did receive a response from Hutchison’s office, and she’s forwarded it along to us.

In her response to Parker, Hutchison doesn’t say whether she’ll vote for or against the amendment, which is expected to arrive on the Senate floor this summer. But Hutchison does indicate she’s concerned that “a drastic change in the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy could hurt morale, recruitment, retention, and overall combat readiness at a time when our armed forces need to maintain a strong presence at home and abroad.” Hutchison also says she wants to hear from “present and former leaders of our military how they expect this change in policy to impact the military.”

As we said before, considering her recent record on gay rights, we’re pretty sure she’ll join fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn in voting against the amendment. But local gay veteran and DADT repeal advocate Dave Gainer has cautioned us before not to give up on Hutchison just yet. So once more, if you’d like to call her office about DADT repeal, the number is 202-224-5922.

Read Hutchison’s full letter to Parker after the jump.

—  John Wright

Local gay veteran says Sen. Hutchison 'just might do the right thing' on DADT repeal

Yesterday I posted an item about an Action Alert that was issued by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, asking people to call their senators and urge them to support an amendment that would begin the process of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.” In my post, I suggested that neither of Texas’ two senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, is at all likely to support the amendment. But Dave Gainer, a board member for SLDN who lives in Tarrant County, says I shouldn’t be so pessimistic — at least not when it comes to Hutchison. In fact, Gainer says there’s hope that if she hears from enough people, Hutchison “just might do the right thing.” Here’s his message:

First, thanks for making people aware of the call to action! Many have worked hard over 17 years to make repeal happen. The next obstacle is the Senate floor vote. There are battles that will follow IF AND ONLY IF the repeal language makes it out of the Senate. While I have not met directly with our senators, I have met with their staff.  I think there is hope that Senator Hutchison just might do the right thing! After all, she represents 20 million people of which about 70 percent support repeal according to last month’s Gallup Poll http://www.gallup.com/poll/127904/Broad-Steady-Support-Openly-Gay-Service-Members.aspx#2

That’s a huge number of people! And a heck of a lot of votes. I think she needs to hear directly from her constituents should she doubt the polling numbers. I wouldn’t give up on her just yet — give her a chance to hear from all of us first! I encourage everyone to reach out to her, express their individual support and remind her that this Bill places IMPLEMENTATION of repeal back into the lap of the DOD and the White House. Congress tied their hands in 1993 and, as the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said – repeal is the right thing to do.

If no one calls from the pre-repeal side, she has no choice but listen to those who do call from the other side. Let’s give her a chance to vote from a position of knowledge. Then, if she fails, we can give up.

Dave

As I said yesterday, I’ve left messages for the press folks in both Cornyn’s and Hutchison’s offices inquiring about their positions on DADT repeal, but thus far I have received no response. The number for Cornyn’s Washington office is 202-224-2934, and the number for Hutchison’s is 202-224-5922.

—  John Wright

Open letter to several Texas Congressmen

Ret. Col. Stewart Bornhof
Ret. Col. Stewart Bornhoft

Dave Gainer forwarded the following letter to us from retired army colonel Stewart Bornhoft.

He wrote that it was his hope that Texas representatives Joe Barton, Chet Edwards, Gene Green and Dr. “No” Burgess read the letter.

To the 194 Representatives, the 12 Senators, and the 4 Service Chiefs who now find themselves in a minority, we know how you feel.  We’ve been there.

When you cast your vote or wrote your letters this week to prolong the prejudice and hypocrisy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, you made a decision that put you on the wrong side of history. There are those in the majority who now are eager to “name and shame” you, but I suggest a higher path. While you shall certainly be held accountable, you still have a chance to set a better course.  Act now to voice your support for the goals of the Pentagon Working Group and the policies that will implement honest and open service. We extend a hand to you, hoping you will not push it way and remain sitting in the path of progress, but instead take that hand, stand, and walk forward with us.  We will all get there faster.

—  David Taffet

DADT votes possible within the hour

Shortly after 5 p.m. Dallas time, local SLDN board member Dave Gainer forwarded me this update from Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

ALL,
We are hearing repeal vote may come in SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] within the hour, the amendment has been laid down; it will not be OPEN to the public. And in the House, we hear from Patrick [sponsor Patrick Murphy] that the House vote could also come within the hour! Tune in if you are not already at your posts watching and listening.
Aubrey

—  John Wright

Guy-Gainer in runoff; 2 of 3 Stonewall-endorsed candidates win DISD races

Three Dallas Independent School District races were decided Saturday without runoffs. Nancy Bingham won District 4; Lew Blackburn won District 5; and Eric Cowan won District 7.

Stonewall Democrats endorsed Cowan and Blackburn. In the District 4 race Stoneawll endorsed Camile White over Bingham, the incumbent.

In a Tarrant County race watched by Dallas Voice, Dave Gainer advanced to a runoff after finishing second with 34 percent of the vote for the Place 3 city council seat in Forest Hill, according to unofficial results. Gainer will face incumbent Gerald Joubert, who received 43 percent of the vote. Rodney Wright finished third with 23 percent of the vote.

The vote was closer than the percentages made it appear. Fewer than 1,000 ballots were cast, and only 91 votes separated Joubert and Gainer.

The runoff will be in June.

—  David Taffet

SLDN board member Dave Gainer on Friday's DADT setback: 'Delay is not an action verb'

Dave Gainer, right, is none too pleased about Friday's news
Dave Gainer, right, is shown in 2008 talking to a gay veteran who was discharged under DADT

Dave Gainer is officially starting to implode. Gainer, a local board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, told the Voice last week that if “don’t ask don’t tell” isn’t repealed this year, “I’m going to implode.” Well no sooner had our story on Gainer come out, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued a crushing blow to any possible repeal of the ban on open military service in 2010. In case you were already off to happy hour when the blow hit, Gates basically wrote a letter to Congress telling lawmakers not to even think about repealing DADT until a Pentagon study of the impact is complete. The study won’t be finished until December, which means a repeal couldn’t happen until next year. But since we’ll undoubtedly lose votes in Congress in November elections, such a delay would effectively push back a potential repeal until after the 2012 elections — which means 2013. Now then, here’s Gainer’s reaction, fresh from the Inbox:

Secretary Gates and the president in separate language this past weekend espoused delaying congressional action on the repeal of DADT. Delay is not an action verb! I suppose it is, though if you consider that every day that DADT remains law, another LGB patriot is fired and their very soul crushed. In that sense, delay is action – perverse, bigoted, hateful action. So, I cannot personally accept any timeline nor proposal that further delays the demise of DADT. Certainly not one that suggests that Congress should take NO action until the DOD completes its study. The president, the secretary of defense, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the speaker and 189 members of the House, and senior senators all have said that this law must end, and this discrimination stop. The DOD Working Group is proceeding smartly with its study of HOW to implement inclusion and not IF. I am certain there are many elements that they must study. But, in my mind, there should be a date certain when implementation shall begin. [SLDN executive director] Aubrey Sarvis’ recommended timeline makes sense — pass a bill now that declares a date certain. Codify the DOD study as being an implementation study. Use the Dec. 1 date as the date that DOD is directed to implement the law giving DOD no more than 60 days hence to achieve full inclusion. The attachment of HR 1283 to the defense budget is certainly one vehicle to be considered. But politically looming are the mid-term elections in November. Will our politicians duck for cover with that in consideration? We need to keep the pressure on both houses of Congress and fortify HR 1283 and SR 3065. We must not wait until Dec. 1 to take action.


—  John Wright

If you want Obama to talk about DADT tomorrow night, leave him a message

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, indicated yesterday that he expected President Barack Obama to talk about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” during his State of the Union Address tomorrow night. But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reportedly sidestepped questions about the matter today, saying only that the ban on openly gay servicemembers is under consideration for inclusion in Obama’s speech.

In any case, local gay veteran Dave Gainer says he’s tired of all the delays on DADT, and he’s urging people to call the White House switchboard to make their voices heard. Gainer, a board member for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network whom I profiled last month, sent over this link.

—  John Wright