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Clifford Stanley and Chai Feldblum Senate Hearings: Recaps

As I mentioned yesterday, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission nominee Chai Feldblum had her hearing at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Clifford Stanley had a confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee.

First Clifford Stanley's hearing. Stanley has been nominated to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the Department of Defense and oversee "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", among other things.

Stanley HRC Backstory reports on the questions regarding the military gay ban, following John McCain's assertion that the ban was "Working successfully":

"Senator Levin followed McCain’s pro-DADT position by asking simply if Dr. Stanley would provide his best objective opinion over the repeal of DADT, to which Dr. Stanley responded with a simple yes.  An opportunity to elaborate was provided with Senator Udall (D-CO), who asked – while noting gays and lesbians already serve in the armed services, and that thousands of gays and lesbians are civilian employees working with military personnel – if Dr. Stanley was prepared to support a push by the White House to include repeal of DADT in policy recommendations in the defense budget next year. Dr. Stanley didn’t quite answer the question, recognizing this is a sensitive issue and that he would be seeking input from all sources, particularly the service chiefs and military personnel “from deck plate to squad level,” and provide a recommendation to Secretary Gates.  Dr. Stanley admitted he did not know what that recommendation would be, and will bear no preconceived notions as to the direction he will go in recommending action on DADT. Senator Burris (D-IL) asked what Dr. Stanley would do about pending discharge cases immediately upon confirmation.  Dr. Stanley – correctly – responded that the pending cases would fall under existing statute, and that he was unaware that he would have any role in these pending discharge cases (he wouldn’t)."

The Servicemember's Legal Defense Network (SLDN) expressed disappointment that Stanley "punted". Said Aubrey Sarvis: "When given the opportunity by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to support his commander in chief’s position to overturn the ban, Dr. Stanley did not do so. However, as is the case with most nominees, Dr. Stanley did not delve into any of the policy issues in his portfolio. We look forward to Dr. Stanley becoming fully aligned with President Obama on repeal."

Feldblum A question about polygamy was the highlight of Feldblum's testimony, according to Law Dork, with regard to a petition the nominee had signed called “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships” which mentioned polygamous families as an "alternative" relationship:

Feldblum began, initially, by stating unambiguously, “I do not support polygamy.”  She went on to say that it was a “mistake” to sign the petition and told the Committee that it was for that reason that she asked for her name to be removed from it.  Ben Smith at Politico reported on Wednesday that Feldblum had sent a letter to the petition organizers asking that her name be removed.

Harkin pushed further, asking her to explain why she had signed on to the statement in the first place.  Feldblum stated that she had been asked to sign on to the petition by “another academic from Columbia.”  She said, “I agreed with the general thrust of the statement,” and that her work at the time was very focused on efforts to “support the range of caregiving relationships.”  It was for that reason, she said, that she signed on in support of the petition.

She concluded, though, “However, the statement goes beyond what I would have said.  That’s why it was a mistake to sign it and why I asked for my name to be removed.”

More at HRC Backstory and Law Dork.

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  1. Notice how the dialoge on DADT remains exactly the same as it was 11 months ago? We haven't progressed an inch towards repealing this discriminatory statute despite our "fierce advocate" in the White House. Does anyone honestly believe that a former Marine officer -- home to some of the most backward views on integration in the entire military -- is going to be a proponent for DADT repeal in the administration?

    I'm sure that most LGBT activists will bemoan Sen. McCain's comments on how he perceives DADT to be "working." Let's face it -- at least Sen. McCain is honest in his support of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Aside from the rhetoric, there is no substantive policy difference between Sen. McCain and President Obama. President Obama may promise a repeal, but his actions demonstrate no willingness to end the discrimination and we are essentially in exactly the same spot where we would be with this issue if Sen. McCain was elected President. At least with Sen. McCain you would get an honest discourse instead of empty promises.

    Posted by: rich | Nov 20, 2009 12:18:44 PM

  2. Rich, if you stop whining long enough to do a little research on Stanley, you'll find that he's dedicated almost his entire career to fighting discrimination. So, he's likely to be a strong advocate of DADT repeal.

    As for your suggestion that the LGBT community would be in "the same spot" if McCain had been elected president, it's laughable.

    Under McCain, hate crimes legislation would not have been signed into law last month.

    Under McCain, same-sex married couples would not be counted in the 2010 census.

    Under McCain, same-sex partners of State Department employees would not have been granted the travel and residency benefits they received this year.

    Under McCain, if Tammy Baldwin's bill to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees passes, it would be vetoed.

    Under McCain, the ENDA bill that may pass Congress in the next few months would be vetoed.

    And under McCain, there would be no hope of DADT repeal becoming law.

    Now crawl back under your Log Cabin, you lying sack of shit.

    Posted by: 24play | Nov 20, 2009 3:19:56 PM

  3. A likely advocate for DADT repeal would not have responded to Congressional testimony with the answers provided by Gen. Stanley.

    The fact remains that we are no closer to DADT repeal than we were in January. 65,000 gay and lesbian servicemembers continue to lie and deceive as a matter of Congressional mandate.

    Senate hearings for DADT that were supposed to happen this month did not occur and are not on the upcoming schedule. There is no movement of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act in the House and no bill has been introduced in the Senate.

    A plan has been floated to include DADT repeal in next year's defense authorization bill -- a bill that will come to a vote one month prior to mid-term elections. There is zero chance of politicians voting for a DADT bill in October of next year regardless of what anyone says. Interestingly enough, the only Congressman advocating the defense authorization bill approach is Rep. Frank -- not even a member of the House Armed Services Committee that could influence that legislation.

    Meanwhile, it's already looking like next year's elections will be a referendum on incumbents due to the continued economic downturn. Will there be any hope of DADT repeal with lost Democratic seats in Congress? Will there be any hope of the other legislative gains before next year's mid-terms? As of last week, ENDA has been dropped from the formal congressional agenda again. Tammy Baldwin's bill on federal benefits isn't going to ever make it out of committee.

    Posted by: rich | Nov 20, 2009 4:50:41 PM

  4. I feel vindicated after having been flamed so actively for having criticized Chai Feldblum for signing the petition because of its inclusive of polyamory/polygamy as relationships that should be recognized by the state. She has clearly recognized that this is a radical position or she wouldn't have backtracked so violently here. What she now states as the reason she wants her named removed from the petition is *exactly* my problem with and the positions of Kendall Thomas (who is most assuredly the "academic from Columbia" that asked her to sign). Why didn't she think about this before she signed it? is a step in the wrong direction to progress on marriage for gay and lesbian people.

    Posted by: Anonymous | Nov 21, 2009 8:59:14 AM

  5. I also note Politico's analysis of

    "The statement came from a wing of the gay rights movement uncomfortable with what it views as the conservative impulse to bring same-sex couples into traditional relationships -- the view that's now ascendant -- as opposed to the more radical goal of disestablishing marraige [sic] as a pillar of society."

    Posted by: Anonymous | Nov 21, 2009 9:07:56 AM

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