DADT report will be released tomorrow as lame duck schedule presents a major impediment

During the White House press briefing, Robert Gibbs responded to questions about the Pentagon’s DADT study from Chris Johnson from the Washington Blade:

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday confirmed that Obama was meeting the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Oval Office to discuss “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Pentagon report on the matter.

“I think the president right now is in the Oval Office meeting with the Joint Chiefs about the issue and about the report,” Gibbs said in response to questioning from the Blade. “We look forward to the presentation by [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Adm. [Mike] Mullen tomorrow and then their testimony later in the week.”

Gibbs said he believes the president has seen “parts of” the report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is due for release Tuesday. Still, Gibbs said he would need to double-check whether Obama has indeed seen the study and doesn’t “want to ahead of” the release of report “in terms of commenting.”

The Obama administration agreed to the schedule for the Pentagon’s DADT report. The geniuses in the White House wanted it released after the midterms, hence the December 1st release date. Given the time crunch in the lame duck, Secretary Gates magnanimously agreed to release the report one day early. You do recall that on April 30th, Gates told Congress in a “strongly worded letter” that he didn’t want any votes on DADT repeal before the report was released. That provided a key talking points for opponents of repeal. Now, timing is the enemy. Unless things move seamlessly in the Senate over the next few weeks (and that never happens), passage of the DADT language is in big trouble.

The President really needs to step up his game here. He’s meeting with Congressional leaders tomorrow, but the President did not list the Defense Authorization bill as one of his priorities, according to The Hill. We need to put pressure on the President. Sign our letter to Obama, which asks him to start calling Senators, here.

And, via SLDN, Senators need to hear from all of us, too. If you live in any of these target states (or contributed to any of these Senators), call them:

UPDATED LIST: KEY SENATORS WHO NEED TO HEAR FROM REPEAL SUPPORTERS NOW:

–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)

ACTION ALERT BY REPEAL ADVOCATES: http://bit.ly/dBKRcd

The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.




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Setting the stage for lame duck, Mitch McConnell’s office takes a swipe at DADT

Sure looks like the GOP Senate Leader, Mitch McConnell, is prepared to fight the effort to pass the DADT language:

Democrats see in the weeks ahead a final opportunity to pass priority legislation before Republicans have an emboldened presence in Washington.

But a spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said voters were not interested in the Democrats’ priorities.

“It’s like the election didn’t happen — if you look at what their priorities are,” spokesman Don Stewart said. “The American people’s priorities are not the Dream Act, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal and the START treaty. Their priorities are not getting a tax hike — and keeping spending under control.”

This is important.

McConnell exercises very tight control over his caucus. We need Senator Susan Collins, who voted for the DADT language in the Senate Armed Services Committee last May, to stand up for equality in December. That means Collins will have to defy her leader. She doesn’t do that very often.

McConnell can play all kinds of procedural games over the next few weeks to block the Defense bill, with the DADT language. If Republican Senators play along with McConnell, we’re screwed.

Susan Collins knows that if the DADT language doesn’t pass this year, it won’t happen for a very long time. Let’s hope she’s negotiating directly with Harry Reid — and negotiating in good faith. If Collins will vote the right way, she’ll bring several other GOPers. If she won’t side with equality, don’t expect any other Republican Senators to do it.

There is going to be an intense battle in the Senate to pass the Defense bill over the next few weeks. We need the President fully engaged. Sign our letter to Obama asking him to get actively involved by calling wavering Senators. We need to pressure him to make sure he’s pressuring them. Sign here.




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Momentum Continues for Lame Duck DADT Repeal

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.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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WH and Reid: Defense Authorization bill with DADT language will move to Senate floor in lame duck

I’m just going to post this entire joint press release from SLDN, HRC and CAPAF:

Key Senate leadership and Administration officials this evening met with representatives of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), and the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is attached – to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess. Further the Majority Leader and the President made clear their opposition to removing the DADT provision from the NDAA. Information on the exact timing and procedural conditions will be announced by the Majority Leader’s office.

Present at the meeting with representatives from HRC, SLDN and CAPAF were: Jim Messina, Deputy White House Chief of Staff; Phil Schiliro, White House Director of Legislative Affairs; Chris Kang, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; David Krone, Chief of Staff to Majority Leader Reid; and Serena Hoy, Senior Counsel to Majority Leader Reid.

Interesting that the White House and Reid’s office were willing to name the participants of the meeting. Apparently, this is supposed to signal that they’re all really engaged. Better late then never, I guess.

Let’s not get too excited. This is just one step forward. There are still many hurdles to get over. The President, the Majority Leader and all of these meeting participants have a lot of work to do to make sure the bill get to the Senate floor — and passes.

The key to success lies in “the exact timing and procedural conditions.” We keep hearing that the Senate wants to go adjourn on December 10th. That can’t happen if this effort is going to succeed.

Greg Sargent is right: Action on DADT “could still happen, if the Dem leadership tries to make it happen.”




AMERICAblog Gay

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GetEqual at Reid’s office. Staffer on commitment to lame duck repeal – ‘I don’t know’

UPDATE: GetEqual is at Sen. Harry Reid’s office. A Tweet from Scott Wooledge:

@ltdanchoi asks Deputy Chief of Staff if @HarryReid will commit to repealing #DADT in lame duck: “I don’t know.”

If Dan is permitted to speak with the Senator, keep in mind what happened at Netroots Nation this year. I was at Dan’s table when he strode onto the stage and gave him his West Point ring and a letter:

This summer, Lt. Dan Choi made headlines at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas when he approached Senator Harry Reid on-stage at a main conference event and gave his West Point cadet ring to Senator Harry Reid. At that time, Senator Reid – in front of this large crowd of progressive/liberal bloggers and activists, Senator Reid promised Dan that he would return the ring by the end of this year when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.

Dan’s question to Senator Reid – “can I expect my ring back this year or not?”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Reports That Pelosi Wants Lame Duck ENDA Vote ‘Not True’

Yesterday, Politico posted a report that Nancy Pelosi wants a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the lame duck session of Congress:

Pelosi "As Democrats discuss what, if anything, they can deliver to the base in the lame-duck session, one possibility may be the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, seen by many as the easiest lift among various pieces of stalled gay rights legislation. My colleague Jonathan Allen reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked about wanting to do ENDA on a leadership conference call today. Pelosi didn't set a timeline, but Allen's source said she appears to want a vote before the lame-duck session ends."

The Washington Blade says that just isn't true:

A gay rights activist with the connections to the speaker’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a blog posting in Politico on Thursday reporting that Pelosi wants a vote on ENDA before lawmakers adjourn for the year is “not true.”

“The speaker brought it up during a leadership call in a list of unfinished bills, and all of the sudden, it got leaked out as she is going to bring this to a vote by the end of the year,” the activist said. “Whoever did leak that took it completely out of context.”

The activist said the speaker didn’t mention “anything else that would have implied she was foretelling a vote by the end of the session.”

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, said “no decisions” have been made on any legislative items for lame duck.


Towleroad News #gay

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Is a Lame Duck ENDA Vote Nancy Pelosi’s Last Chance To Secure a Gay Rights Legacy?

A day after a report circulates that outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will call for a lame duck ENDA vote (a report that's already been shot down), the Bay Area Reporter runs the headline, "LGBTs express disappointment with Pelosi's speakership." Though please don't include the Human Rights Campaign in that list of "LGBTs."


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Shouldn’t matter, but top House and Senate GOPers on Armed Services vow to stop DADT repeal in lame duck

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. We know Rep. McKeon and Senator McCain opposed DADT repeal. They’re going to try to stop it in the lame duck. Pushing this. Those Log Cabin Republicans and GOProuds have their work cut out for them:

Already, the Republican widely expected to be the next House Armed Services chairman signaled that Republicans are not on board with trying to push for a vote in the last few weeks of the current session, while the Democrats are just a few votes shy of pushing it through.

“Republicans on both sides the Capitol are committed to passing a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that is not weighed down by the current majority’s social agenda items,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-California, in a statement released Wednesday morning.

Before the election, the top Republican on the Armed Services committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told an Arizona television station he would “absolutely” filibuster any attempt to vote “until we have a thorough and complete study on the effect of morale and battle effectiveness.”

“The reason they tried to ramrod it through the Senate is they knew that the Senate will look different next January,” McCain said on 12 News’ “Sunday Square Off” on October 17. “I will filibuster or stop it from being brought up.”

This shouldn’t matter. McKeon and McCain don’t run the commmittees — yet.

Obama and the Democrats need to really focus on the passing the Defense bill as is. They let the GOPers get away with filibustering the Defense bill in September, which was a huge mistake. We’re in two wars, which should be reason enough to force the GOP’s handgs. Also, the Defense bill has to be one of the biggest jobs bills that Congress passes. It funds millions of salaries in both the government and private sectors. And, as the President noted yesterday at his press conference, there is a huge amount of support for ending DADT.

Let this be the first fight with the Republicans. But, make it a fight.

And, if you haven’t seen it, watch Alex Nicholson’s video on how we can prevail. He spells it out quite clearly:




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President at today’s presser – DADT legislative action ‘potentially during the lame duck session’

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Haven’t we been led down paths that lead to a steep drop off of a cliff for the last two years? Today the President held a news conference, mostly to address questions in the aftermath of the Dem disaster at the polls last night.

There was one question asked by CNN’s Ed Henry about DADT repeal that generated more smoke and mirrors from President Obama — and notice he didn’t address the loaded issue in the last sentence of Henry’s question.

Ed Henry: Just on a policy front, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that you promised to end. And when you had 60 votes and 59 votes in the Senate — it’s a tough issue — you haven’t been able to do it. Do you now have to tell your liberal base that with maybe 52 or 53 votes in the Senate, you’re just not going to be able to get it done in the next two years?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me take the second issue first. I’ve been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation. And since there’s been a lot of discussion about polls over the last 48 hours, I think it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way. It’s the right thing to do.

Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion. I’ve worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary Gates, worked with Admiral Mullen to make sure that we are looking at this in a systemic way that maintains good order and discipline, but that we need to change this policy.

There’s going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully. But that will give us time to act in — potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy.

Keep in mind we’ve got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well. And something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we’ve got this issue bouncing around in the courts, as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn’t know at any given time what rules they’re working under.

We need to provide certainty and it’s time for us to move this policy forward. And this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue, as I said, where you’ve got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally.

Yes, well potentially, I could win the lottery, but the above statement is practically meaningless. It would have been enlightening to hear President Obama address the demoralized base, particularly those LGBTs who advocated for action in the first two years, knowing that midterms would suck all the air out of “change.” But of course, those who “knew better” kept telling us that…

It’s only been ____ months since he’s been in office; he has a lot on his plate.

It was the excuse to give him a pass. And when it dragged on and the warning signs were there that nothing would be done in 2010 because of WH fear about its political miscalculations, and worse, that it relied on HRC (which was banking on a Hillary win, for good or ill) as the main representative of “the LGBT community.” And this administration’s fumbling communications style (as in none, or dodging), has made it clear it was getting bad advice.

Anyway, today’s presser just sounds like more of the same. I don’t think the ass-kicking last night has changed things one iota for the relationship between the LGBT community and this administration. It remains to be seen whether the WH feels it has any justification for coming to the LGBT community for $upport for 2012.

***

Reaction from SLDN:

Statement from Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“When asked about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ today,  the President was right to focus on the lame duck session in the Senate as the best place to get repeal this year. If the President, Senator Majority Leader Reid, and Secretary Gates are aligned and determined to see the defense bill move this year the chances are good repeal can still happen, but they will need several Republican senators to join them. Clearly a bipartisan vote will be needed to take up the bill in the Senate and to ensure final passage this year.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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President Obama Calls for Lame Duck Action on DADT Repeal

Today at a White House press conference, President Barack Obama reiterated his call for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that has harmed our national security and discriminates against men and women who want to serve their country.  The President specifically signaled his desire for the Senate to act on repeal in the upcoming lame duck session.  Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:

“The President’s call for repeal today is a first step of many needed to fulfill his state of the union promise to end the law that harms our national security.  We urge the Senate to heed the President’s call for action in the post-election session and look forward to his continued leadership in seeing this through.  As he articulated, the legal challenges and political posturing have created confusion and now is the time to wipe this stain of discrimination from the books.  It would be a travesty for a small group of Senators to continue to hold hostage a bill with critical military equipment and pay raises just because they don’t want to debate repeal.”


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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