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

PHOTO: Obama signs DADT repeal certification

President Barack Obama signs the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ have been met, in the Oval Office on Friday. Pictured, from left, are Brian Bond, deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement; Kathleen Hartnett, associate counsel to the president; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Kathryn Ruemmler, counsel to the president; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/via Rex Wockner)

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: NY marriage lottery results; DADT repeal certification; Kay Bailey Hutchison

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. All 823 couples who played the New York City marriage lottery have won! The lottery initially guaranteed only 764 slots on Sunday — the first day same-sex marriage will be legal in the Empire State. But NYC officials now say they’ll accommodate all couples who entered, although 74 who signed up to wed in Manhattan will have to travel to another borough. For more on the start of same-sex marriage in New York, check out Yonkers native David Taffet’s round-up from Thursday.

2. After 18 long years and some 15,000 discharges, the Pentagon and President Barack Obama are set to put the final nail in the coffin of “don’t ask, don’t tell” today. Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are expected to certify the repeal of DADT when they meet in the Oval Office this afternoon, which would begin a 60-day waiting period before the policy officially — and finally — comes to an end. According to our calendar, that means the big day will be Sept. 20, which happens to be just two days after Dallas Pride. Is it too late to change this year’s theme?

3. If not, perhaps they can just turn Pride into a retirement party for Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who told MSNBC this morning that she objects to the Pentagon’s decision to certify DADT repeal. “I really don’t think we should be putting people who are in harm’s way, in very close quarters, in any kind of uncomfortable position,” Hutchison said. “I think it is not the right decision, but it’s a decision that’s been made.” Watch video from ThinkProgress below:

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Pentagon to certify DADT repeal

Secretary Panetta

Reports are coming in from sources including the Wall Street Journal and Fox News that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen are going to announce Friday that they are ready to certify repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Once they have signed off on repeal, the measure goes to President BarackObama for his signature, and he will send it back to Congress. Then there is a 60-day waiting period before repeal is officially implemented.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, issued a statement shortly after 6 p.m. Central time today saying the Pentagon’s certification of repeal is “is welcomed by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long.”

Sarvis added: “The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’  should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

But Sarvis also warned closeted servicemembers that it’s not safe to come out yet. SLDN has posted a warning to lesbian and gay servicemembers here. He also advised LGBT servicemembers with questions to call the SLDN hotline at 202-328-3244, ext. 100, to speak to a staff attorney.

—  admin