Sen. Mark Udall (D) Polls The Joint Chiefs: All Agree They Can Implement Repeal

Over at the Wonk Room, Igor Volsky reports on a tactic taken today by Sen. Mark Udall. Several of the top military brass testifying today indicated that they were hesitant to institute the repeal in a time of war.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) — a strong proponent of repeal — said that the amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered the perfect compromise: the certification process provides the military with the flexibility not to implement repeal right away, while undermining the possibility that the courts would force the Armed Forces to act quickly. Every Service Chief agreed that they were comfortable that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would take their concerns into consideration before certifying repeal and admitted that they could effectively implement the policy change.

Critics were quick to point out that such a compromise could stall the implementation of the repeal until the end of the Afghanistan war. (And longer, should other conflicts arise before then.)

Joe. My. God.

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Sen. Mark Udall: ‘best move forward’ for DADT is in Def. Bill — and he hasn’t spoken to White House

Kerry Eleveld interviewed Senator Mark Udall, who actually has been a fierce advocate for us on Capitol Hill. Udall sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has been one of the leaders on DADT repeal. The interview is worth a read. But, several questions stuck out for me. This one:

There is this talk of potentially stripping the repeal measure from the bill and passing the NDAA without it. In your opinion, is there any scenario under which you could get “don’t ask, don’t tell” through if it’s not attached to the Defense bill?

I don’t think there is, but I always believe hope springs eternal. I do think the best way to move this forward is in the NDAA and I do worry that if we don’t formalize the repeal process in statute now that we may not have this opportunity for a number of years in the future. If you listen to Sec. [Robert] Gates and Adm. [Mike] Mullen, they want the repeal in law, they want the Congress to have the final say. This is the most appropriate way to repeal an outdated policy that undercuts our national security.

That should help shut down the inane, counter-productive strategy concocted by the Palm Center, which no one can makes sense of.

And these two:

Do you get the sense that the White House is actively involved here? Have you spoken with them, and do you get the sense that they are having conversations with other senators?

I believe that a number of senators who are on the fence would benefit greatly from hearing directly from the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs on the importance of passing the Defense bill and, included in that, the repeal provision.

That would be helpful. I don’t know whether they are doing that, but I’ve been weighing in on a series of letters and comments and outreach efforts to the White House, to other senators, and to the general public. So that would be helpful.

But you haven’t spoken with the White House directly?

I have not specifically spoken to the White House.

Still waiting for that promised White House strategy. Not seeing it.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Udall, Lieberman and Gillibrand: Senate must pass defense bill including DADT compromise

Senators Renew Call To Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Lieberman, Udall, Gillibrand Urge Colleagues To Pass Defense Bill In Lame Duck

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement today urging the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.

“The Senate should act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense bill for forty-eight consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now, especially while our nation is at war. We must also act to put an end to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that not only discriminates against but also dishonors the service of gay and lesbian service members.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is essential to the safety and well-being of our service members and their families, as well as for the success of military operations around the world. The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.

“The process established by the defense bill would also allow ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed in an orderly manner, and only after the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have certified to Congress that repeal is ‘consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.’ If Congress does not act to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation’s military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts. It is important that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill.

“We are pleased that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also called on Congress to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We must act upon our responsibility to our troops and their family members and to the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who serve their nation bravely and honorably by passing the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year.”

This is an interesting line in the letter:

The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.

Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and Democrats were filibustering a defense bill that gay pay rises to the troops. The Republicans would eviscerate us. They’d call us un-American troop haters. But we hear nothing of this sort from the White House or folks on the Hill, other than in this laudable letter from three Senators. Why don’t the rest of the Dems, and the White House, ever fight back?




AMERICAblog Gay

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Lieberman, colleagues introduce DADT repeal in Senate

A coalition of U.S. senators led by Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman today introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 that would repeal the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, that keeps lesbian and gay people from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The new bill would also prohibit discrimination against current and prospective servicemembers on the basis of sexual orientation, and it would “promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus.”

In a press statement released jointly by the 13 senators cosponsoring the measure, Lieberman said: “The bottom line is that we have a volunteer military. If Americans want to serve, they ought to have the right to be considered for that service regardless of characteristics such as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  Repealing the current policy will allow more patriotic Americans to defend our national security and live up to our nation’s founding values of freedom and opportunity.”

The other 12 cosponsors, all Democrats, are Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of Callifornia, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Al Franken of Minnesota.

Levin is also chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Udall, in explaining his support for repealing DADT, quoted combat veteran and five-term U.S. senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater, who once said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” And, Udall added, “you certainly don’t have to be straight to recognize who the enemy is.”

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