Carl Levin | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Human Rights Campaign | Military | News

Situation Normal on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal: All F-ed Up

Is this the "clear path to repeal" the Human Rights Campaign keeps assuring us is there? 

Levin Senator Carl Levin is putting the focus on a moratorium on gay troop discharges while expressing doubts that a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will happen this year.

Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly reports:

When asked about equality advocates' concern that a moratorium on enforcement of the military's ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy would put off a vote on repealing policy this year, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on Thursday, ''That's not my concern. My concern would be that the vote on ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' gets defeated.''

When asked if that meant the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman had concerns that such a vote would be defeated this year, Levin's response was blunt: 

 ''Yeah, darn right I do.''

Geidner adds: "Reflecting on the testimony heard before his committee and the House Armed Services Committee this week, Levin said, ''You've got an assessment under way, you've got a couple of service chiefs opposed to it maybe altogether, one of them even suggesting he opposes it and doesn't even favor the assessment.' Noting those issues, Levin told reporters, 'I think there would be great difficulty in succeeding in a repeal vote. I don't favor going to a vote if it's going to be defeated. I think it would be a setback for those of us who think that the program should be repealed.'"

Writes Chris Johnson at DC Agenda:

"Fearing a lack of votes, Levin said he’s pushing for a legislative moratorium. The senator noted that such a measure would be 'logical' because it doesn’t predetermine the outcome of the Pentagon study currently underway. 'Once the commander-in-chief says people shouldn’t be discharged for simply being gay, I think there’s real dilemma,' he said. 'And when we think about that dilemma … hopefully, we’ll lead people to see that the moratorium is an attractive position because it doesn’t prejudge the outcome.' Levin said he wants a legal opinion of the validity of a moratorium as well as what will happen with pending discharges as the Pentagon completes its review."

Levin's suggestion for a moratorium comes on the heels of a warning from Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell that taking action to repeal the ban (i.e. Joe Lieberman's repeal legislation) before the "military study" is complete is "putting the cart before the horse." 

BLOGGERS RESPOND

Pam Spaulding has had it: "I'm tired of this sh*t. Name some names -- who up there on the Hill is waffling on repeal? This pathetic jiu-jitsu over moving on this is absolutely enraging and ridiculous at this point."

Mixner warns: "There are a number of options but all of them require the Democratic leadership to commit to the repeal of this apartheid-type law now. If we allow the military leaders to dictate a year study we could be facing a Republican controlled Congress after this year's elections. No matter what the study says at the end, do you really believe that DADT will be repealed by a Republican controlled Congress? The military leaders know that this issue will go away if they can just out wait the elections."

John Aravosis at Americablog calls the stalling "political homophobia".

HEARINGS YESTERDAY

Roughead  Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, spoke to the Palm Center's Nathaniel Frank about reservations he has with the plan to poll U.S. troops about the policy.

Said Roughead, who testified in Senate hearings yesterday: "We've never assessed the force because it is not our practice to go within our military and poll our force to determine if they like the laws of the land or not. I mean, that gets you into very difficult regime, so now that...Now that the President has signaled his intent and that the Secretary of Defense has said that we'll go through an assessment process and my point is that we have to assess this force."

Listen to the audio here.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus also testified. He favors repeal: “I think it’s important to remember that we have gays in the military right now. It’s only a question of whether they can serve openly or not, and I think the chairman of the joint chiefs set out that case pretty well. Next, I think that it’s important to distinguish between orientation and conduct. We have lots of rules in the military, in the Navy and Marine Corps, about conduct and heterosexual conduct, that we enforce very stringently and very specifically. And I think that we’ve got to be careful to separate orientation, which is what we’re talking about, and conduct.”

Conway Also, in Senate hearings yesterday, the commandant of the Marine Corps expressed concerns about the repeal:

"Gen. James T. Conway, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the policy known as 'don't ask, don't tell' should be left alone. 'I think the current policy works,' he said. 'My best military advice to this committee, to the secretary, to the president, would be to keep the law such as it is.' Conway's stance is considered crucial because it shows there are sharp disagreements among top officers and within the Joint Chiefs of Staff about whether to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly. Opposition from military leaders helped derail earlier efforts to lift the ban, most notably former President Clinton's effort in 1993."

Watch some of Roughead and Conway's testimony, AFTER THE JUMP...

After the events of this week, I think we need to be very concerned about the direction this is heading, because it doesn't look like a "clear path" when the top lawmakers are expressing doubts about any kind of vote and refocusing their efforts on just getting a moratorium. HRC is holding a Virtual Lobby Day on March 4. Maybe that's part of the master plan.

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Comments

  1. The whole situation with DADT has been mis-handled by Obama and the Democrats. My feeling is that they have deliberately done this. Obama and the Democrats don't really have the desire to get rid of DADT. By giving a forum to the bigots, Obama is effectively pre-ordaining the results of these so-called hearings.

    As for the Human Rights Campaign, it does not deserve the support of gay people. The Human Rights Campaign has failed to take the fight to Obama and the Democrats on this issue. Human Rights Campaign gets an "F" for fail.

    Posted by: jason | Feb 26, 2010 11:02:08 AM


  2. If only we had a fierce advocate in the Whitehouse and a well-funded advocacy organization in Washington to work with him on this.

    Wait a minute...

    Posted by: Trev | Feb 26, 2010 11:14:16 AM


  3. I'm sure HCR will have a cocktail party or two about this...

    Posted by: homerh | Feb 26, 2010 11:16:22 AM


  4. Conway should be fired for insubordination. These hearings are about how to implement the president's directive to end DADT. His opinion of whether or not it should remain is irrelevant at this point. In fact it only serves to undermine his commander in chief. Of course I don't believe Obama ever intended to fight for us anyway, so I doubt he'll complain about this challenge to his authority.

    Posted by: gaylib | Feb 26, 2010 11:26:06 AM


  5. My kingdom for a Harry Truman.

    Posted by: pistolpetey | Feb 26, 2010 11:41:39 AM


  6. It's hardly surprising to read Democrats being attacked as the main problem here and I'm pretty confident that that will continue to be a theme on the comments to this post.

    The facts are that there are almost certainly over 50 Democratic/independent votes in the Senate today to repeal the policy and, if the U.S. Senate functioned like most legislative bodies in democratic nations, we could pass a repeal bill tomorrow. Unfortunately, as anyone who has followed the debate over health insurance reform knows, a simple majority does not rule in the Senate. Sixty votes will be needed to pass repeal and not only do Dems/independents not have 60 seats but at least a couple (B. Nelson, Byrd) and possibly one or two more Dems are likely to vote with Republicans.

    One of the principal obstacles here is the filibuster and we should all, for many reasons extending beyond debates about DADT, be supporting efforts to reform the Senate's filibuster rule.

    Beyond that, since Dems are likely to supply 55 or so of the needed 60 votes to advance a repeal bill, why not turn a little of the heat and focus for once on our supposedly "moderate" "friends" on the Republican side of the aisle? Why don't Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins come out now and publicly state their support for repeal? Also, for all those Log Cabin types who were assuring us that, despite Scott Brown's prior statements that gay families are "not normal" and despite his prior efforts to ban marriage equality in Massachusetts, he really isn't such a bad guy, where's your buddy now? How about Lugar or Hatch or Voinovich or Gregg or Murkowski? Is there really no one in your party willing to stand up to your party's bigoted base and put their neck out on the line for equality?

    No doubt many of the comments to this post will identify Dems as the chief problem here. I fail to see why, when Dems have about 90% of the 60 votes we need in the Senate and not a single Republican Senator has yet declared their support for repeal, the Dems should nonetheless be the principal target of our frustration and anger.

    The Log Cabin crowd needs to either put up Snowe, Collins, Brown and a couple of others on this issue or shut up.

    Posted by: Patric | Feb 26, 2010 11:50:32 AM


  7. Patric,
    It's very simple why the Democrats are the main target. They are the ones who promised to be on our side. When the going gets tough though they scurry like rats of a sinking ship. They are in charge yet they have done nothing to advance the cause. It's very interesting they are so afraid of the filibuster. It seems like Republicans got plenty accomplished when they did not have a filibuster majority. Why aren't the Democrats calling out those in the party who are obstructing. What they are more afraid of it that we will see who within their party is against GLBT rights plain and simple.

    Posted by: Tim W | Feb 26, 2010 12:06:58 PM


  8. Mixner nailed it - the Repubs are betting on big mid-terms wins, which will kill any chance that DADT will be repealed.

    The weak Democratic leadership, along with the ineffective HRC, are a huge disappointment. Larry Kramer is right - nice, polite activism is ineffective.

    Posted by: Steve | Feb 26, 2010 12:08:02 PM


  9. I don't know if this recipe is good or bad, so I will wait until it is done. Clinton jumped right into the mess and hit a brick wall and in the process made the wall worse. If at the end of the day we get rid of DADT Obama will have succeeded, the day is just beginning.

    Posted by: MikeK | Feb 26, 2010 12:11:46 PM


  10. Tim W, in some instances when Republicans accomplished their goals while they were in the majority, they did so through reconciliation (such as in the case of the incredibly irresponsible tax cuts for billionaires). (Many other Republican pet causes, such as privatization of Social Security and an anti-gay amendment of the federal Constitution, thankfully failed because of the filibuster or other super-majority requirements.) I am heartened to hear that Dems are finally considering using reconciliation to pass health insurance reform but, as you are probably aware, reconciliation is not an option for passing a bill such as repeal of DADT.

    Yes, Dems promised to be on our side on this issue and, thus far, the President has succeeded in securing the criticial support of Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for repeal. The facts are, though, that Dems will need 60 votes to get this through and Senator Levin is doing nothing more than acknowledging that reality with his statements.

    You wonder why Dems are not calling out those in their party who are obstructing. If you honestly believe that there is anything the President could do to move either Robert Byrd, who entered the Senate several years before the President was born, or Ben Nelson, who represents one of the most conservative States in the country, on this issue then I would suggest you're being a bit naieve.

    Dems have more than 50 votes to get this done. Try focusing at least a little of your frustration on either (i) Senate rules which require 60 votes to pass legislation which could otherwise easily pass with a majority vote or (ii) any of several so-called "moderate" Republican Senators who have, to-date, been unwilling to incur the wrath of the wingnuts in their party by joining the efforts to repeal this policy.

    Posted by: Patric | Feb 26, 2010 12:25:51 PM


  11. @Patric

    At the first hearing with Gates and Mullen, Lieberman expressed reservations about the filibuster. Levin responded that they can use reconciliation. The fact that he's now backing away from that statement suggests (1) he was wrong about reconciliation being a possibility procedurally or, more likely, (2) 10 or more Senate Democrats have indicated they will vote to maintain DADT.

    And if they can't even muster 50 votes for this, then what is the point of having a Democratic majority, really?

    As much as I loathe the Republicans, I am slowly coming to the realization that this generation of Democratic "leaders" simply can't govern. The death of Ted Kennedy was perhaps the end of an era in more ways than one. For whatever reason, these Democrats don't have the strength - the balls if you will - to push through a legislative agenda. Maybe it is because they have never had to struggle through a Great Depression and global war. But they are horribly indecisive and are afraid of being held responsible. So everyone just passes the ball to the next person who can't shoot. Then the clock runs out and they lose the game.

    Perhaps we'll have better luck with the next generation.

    Posted by: John | Feb 26, 2010 12:28:44 PM


  12. This is getting ridiculous. I have a friend currently pending a discharge hearing. There is no reason why good men and women have to put up with this shit. We don't need $250/plat dinners sponsored by PACs, we need people writing letters and politicians doing the right thing. Levin is right, we need that moratorium NOW.

    Posted by: DR | Feb 26, 2010 12:31:47 PM


  13. While Andy pointed no fingers and based none of his opinions on a misunderstanding of what's gone on the last month or so, those at some of the articles linked to do, so let's have a Reality Check. It's requires quite a bit, so if you have a short attention span...

    1. If some could finally stop channeling Sally Field squealing, "He likes us! He really like us!", and see what Gates is REALLY "for" it would NOT be repeal but running out the clock [through his year+ "study"] past midterm elections on any political possibility of repeal, we'd be far better off. And if he'd been challenged on that IMMEDIATELY by the gay community instead of the Sally routine MAYBE we wouldn't still be treading water weeks later. Levin...one of the few in Congress who can rightfully claim to have opposed the ban and its reimaging as DADT since 1993...said THAT DAY that he thought a year was too long, that he believed there should at least be a freeze on discharges...but some think HE'S the enemy rather than Gates who gave repeal opponents an EXCUSE for delaying action until action is impossible.

    Antigay Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), was certainly paying closer attention to what Gates was ACTUALLY saying than most gays [emphasis mine]:

    WEBB: "So you’re NOT coming in here today and saying, we’re GOING to change the law and this is the year that we’re going to put into figuring out how to implement the change?

    GATES: Our hope would be that the information we would develop during the course of this review would help inform the legislative process. [Note: not NECESSARILY repeal.]

    WEBB: I want to also EMPHASIZE that you balanced that, in your statement, saying YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO COME OUT OF THIS. WE DON'T KNOW."

    That revealing exchange happened right in front of everyone's eyes but most gays apparently didn't hear it because they were too busy still squealing, "Gates like us! He really likes us!" It's "Obama The Messiah for The Gays" all over.

    1a. Did no one else notice that the SAME person Gates repeatedly insisted last year had told him that he has no power to regulate what kind of evidence can be used to effect discharges [tho he DOES], the Pentagon's General Counsel, is the same person he told the Senate he was appointing to co-chair the year plus "study"? Was no one else concerned that he had assigned either a legal incompetent or a dishonest homophobe...stupid fox or sly fox....to advise him/Congress what to do about the gay chickens?

    2. Mullen, while more credible in his sincerity, still ABANDONED his second most powerful position to POTUS over a 2.5 million force of active duty and reserve servicemembers to go along with Gates bait and switch game like some impotent buck private.

    3. One doesn't need to understand how to diagram a sentence to get that Obama did NOT say he would work "for repeal this year" as in "for repeal to HAPPEN this year," but "work this year for repeal"...in other words...the work would happen this year but repeal would not necessarily follow THIS year.

    In short, we were played again...and are still being played by White House Porch Faggots excuse me gay orgs saying that the Prez IS working on it and for this year but we just don't have the special 3D glasses they have to be able to see it.

    4. Worse still, a tiny handful of gays...some with reputations of integrity and some with reputations of incompetence and incredibility...are attempting to reverse decades of the Movement saying to the Pentagon, "You don't NEED another study" while contradicting their own campaigning for the last five years for a repeal bill that would only allow the Pentagon six months to implement .... crawling into bed with Gates and even card carrying homohating Troglodytic Marine Commandant Conway and purring, "Take me! Do whatever you want with me! I'm yours!"

    HOW? By suggesting that we all SURRENDER to the guy [without an actual vote in Congress himself] who made that naked move to, in fact, defeat repeal by running out the political clock and agree to delaying post this entirely theorectical repeal implementation for 18 months ...during which 100s of gay servicemembers would be shitcanned and again, even tho the House repeal bill they've previously pushed would give the Pentagon 30% more time to implement than any other country took after repeal....WITHOUT NAMING those Senators/Congresspersons who will publicly guarantee that, in return, he or she will change his/her vote from against repeal to for repeal thus making repeal certain.

    "DC Agenda" attempted a couple of weeks ago to identify the hold outs on the Senate Armed Services Committee, getting, at best, noncommittals from Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Webb, and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

    Begich and Collins said they were still open to repeal and expressed support for some kind of freeze, whereas what Webb said and what Nelson didn't say makes their opposition to repeal or a freeze insufferably transparent.

    How do we change enough minds? How do we get the President to, you know, do what he repeatedly promised us to get our votes, LEAD? We need to return to shutting off the GayTM...and maybe...by understanding what is REALLY going on and not what gay and mainstream media keep misreporting...enough will join us [including Republican DADT opponents in Collins' Maine] to get us something more than smile fucked again and again.

    But suddenly confusing our long-documented friends with enemies and our long-documented enemies with friends is not the way forward.

    PS: No matter how many report differently how many times, neither Powell nor Cheney have EVER said they are "for" REPEAL. Those slime balls chose their words carefully as they always have and the MOST they have expressed support for is Gates' year plus study which, again = NO repeal.

    Trust me, the Neaderthals in Congress "hear" what they're actually saying ... just like Webb heard what Gates was actually saying...so we can drop the self-delusion that these two give us leverage thus blaming Levin for not simply scooping up all those minds that have been changed by the double speak of these past and present Pentagon dinosaurs.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Feb 26, 2010 12:42:03 PM


  14. John, I have copied the exchange between Lieberman and Levin below and, while technically I don't think that the procedure they were there proposing as a possible means of advancing this bill constitutes reconciliation, your point is nonetheless well taken. They were at least suggesting the possibility that we could get this done with a simple majority.

    I continue to believe that we'd be in much better shape if so-called "moderate" Republicans like Collins, Snowe and Brown would get off the fence and publicly support repeal but, then again, why should we turn any of our fire on Republicans when it's so easy to attack Dems for everything? Besides, our good friend Scott Brown has probably been too busy schmoozing his other good friends: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/15323/scott-brown-schmoozed-tea-baggers-and-massresistance-before-voting-with-harry-reid


    SEN. LIEBERMAN: I appreciate that.

    And, look, then the final, obviously, is that it’s up to us in the Congress and in the Senate. We’ve got to – we’ve got to get 60 votes to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell, or else it will remain in effect. Thank you.

    SEN. LEVIN: Unless there’s a provision inside the Defense authorization bill; that goes to the floor, which would then require an amendment to strike it from the bill; in which case the 60-vote rule would be turning the other way. In fact –

    SEN. LIEBERMAN: It is – (inaudible) – knowledge, but it is with great appreciation that I accept the higher wisdom – (laughter) – of the chairman of our committee.

    SEN. LEVIN: (Laughs, laughter.)

    SEN. LIEBERMAN: I think that’s a great way to go.

    SEN. LEVIN: That’s on the record, everybody. (Laughter.)

    Posted by: Patric | Feb 26, 2010 1:00:10 PM


  15. First, thank you, Patric, for being the voice of reason.
    Second, I want a vote on DADT this year. I don't care that there isn't enough votes to pass it, I want to know who will go on record AGAINST repeal.
    Finally, if we can't repeal it as it is- attach it to a defense spending bill (if that can be done). If nothing else, we could label those that reject the bill in that form as being against a strong national defense (poison to conservatives).

    Posted by: Rodney | Feb 26, 2010 1:21:22 PM


  16. Exactly the easy path is attaching it to the defense spending bill. It gives both moderate Democrats and Republicans cover to vote for it under the argument of national defense. But the president and Democrats in Congress don't want to show political courage and do this.

    Posted by: Tim W | Feb 26, 2010 1:56:45 PM


  17. That cunt conway's just afraid that if DADT gets repealed, there won't be any "straight" marines left. You'd think obama would be sick of obstructionists from the right. Fire his ass.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 26, 2010 2:03:31 PM


  18. I just want to comment that this will not necessarily require 60 votes to pass. they are talking about adding the repeal to the Defense Appropriations bill. This is a must pass bill (or else the Defense Department will shut down), so all they need is enough votes in committee to add it to the bill and enough votes to keep it from being stripped on the floor. Only one of the two bodies needs to do this. After the House and the Senate pass their bills, they go to a reconciliation committee to merge the two versions. So if either the House or the Senate failed to pass the bill, it could still be added in. And the reconciliation committee does not require a supermajority. The agreed upon bill then goes back to the House and Senate who vote on it. They can reject the bill, and send it back to reconciliation though I think this is rare.

    My guess is that most people in the country are unaware of how legislation is passed. The people at HRC do. [Actually, I am not an expert on this, so perhaps I told a few lies here.]

    Posted by: Charlie | Feb 26, 2010 2:08:30 PM



  19. We, and any friendly members of congress, need to be more simple in our messaging.

    Someone needs to challenge a General Conway on the "success" of DADT:

    "DADT is NOT working. I can show you the costs of this policy in terms of skilled personnel fired, the cost to the US taxpayer of recruiting/training their replacements and the upheaval to their units of the discharge hearing process. There is NO benefit to the policy. Your argument rests upon the assumption that the result of repeal would be significant upheaval. My challenge to you General is to bring us back some actual data that indicates there would be a problem caused by the repeal. Because I have data from 25 countries indicating that is not the case."

    "It is ironic that we have deployed our troops into two foreigh countries where we expect them to have a heightened cultural awareness and ability to deal with people who are very different from themselves but we do not have enough confidence in their ability to cope with the diversity resulting from gay or lesbian colleagues.

    Are you telling the American people that our armed forces are less capable of adapting to the repeal of DADT than those of 25 other countries? I would hope that you would have more confidence in your own troops."


    Posted by: SDCAP | Feb 26, 2010 2:10:25 PM


  20. The President laid out a plan that will lead to the repeal of DADT. Whether you like that plan or not, it is the most likely path to repeal. Making this a campaign issue in the midterms might make you feel better, but that glow of being in the spotlight will fade quickly on the first Wednesday in November when you realize how the fight over DADT cost Dem Congresscritters their seats.

    Instead of bellyaching about how unloved we feel, push for a moratorium during the review process. Try to monitor and shape the review process to make sure it's fair. Every review of this issue for the last 20 years has come back in favor of repeal. So work with our allies instead of providing fuel to our enemies.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 26, 2010 2:56:31 PM


  21. Both parties need their feet to the fire. I think it would be great to fire Congresswoman Bono-Mack of Palm Springs because she says she is a moderate, but she's really anti-gay. Maybe it would prove to the moderates in the Republican Party stand up for fairness else you will be out of a job.

    And that message would be the same for Democratic Party "moderate or blue dogs" as well.

    Posted by: Matt from California | Feb 26, 2010 2:59:08 PM


  22. Arggghh!! Why are we fighting for a country that does not fight for us?! America is not free!

    Posted by: X | Feb 26, 2010 2:59:31 PM


  23. You got it X.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 26, 2010 6:54:49 PM


  24. Pam Spalding and Co. need to get a clue. They have an ally in Sen Levin (who rightfully has been called the conscience of the Senate by quite a few). He's been there for 31 years and knows how to get things done. Acting like a bull in a china shop or like everyone against is a bigot or an ass doesn't accomplish anything.

    While I want equality as much as anyone else and I'm not willing to sit nicely with a smile until acknowledged, people need to use their intelligence (if any) rather than raw emotion.

    Posted by: Mort | Feb 26, 2010 8:24:00 PM



  25. Well here's my rant about the DADT repeal and the fight for our equal rights.

    http://www.back2stonewall.com/2010/02/its-my-blog-and-ill-rant-if-i-want-to.html

    If anyone eants to take a look you are more than welcome to.

    needless to say I am uber-disgusted

    Posted by: Wolf | Feb 26, 2010 8:50:26 PM


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