Is this the "clear path to repeal" the Human Rights Campaign keeps assuring us is there?
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 I think it would be a setback for those of us who think that the program should be repealed.'"
"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."
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".
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.”
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.