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Top Dems Call on Pentagon to Deal with Rogue National Guard Units on Gay Spousal Benefits: VIDEO

Livingston

The top Democrats on the House and Senate armed services committees are asking the Pentagon to take action on the growing number of National Guard units that are refusing to process gay spousal benefit applications, the Washington Blade reports:

LevinIn a letter dated Sept. 30, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) write to the Defense Department to express “deep concern” over the unwillingness of certain state National Guard units to process spousal benefits for troops in same-sex marriages.

“Recently, the states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma have refused to issue or have stopped issuing ID cards in state facilities to same-sex spouses of service members,” the lawmakers write. “Citing statewide bans on marriage for same-sex couples, local policymakers have forced these spouses to travel to federal military installations to apply for their military benefits.”

The letter is the first time federal lawmakers have weighed in on the growing issue.

Smith and Levin urge Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to take action to reaffirm guidance he issued in August saying spousal benefits for troops in same-sex marriages should be available nationwide following the Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act.

This week, South Carolina said that because of the gay benefits order, it was ending all state processing of military benefit applications and directing that process to federal facilities.

Watch South Carolina State Adjutant General Robert Livingston (pictured, top) discuss the military benefits move, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Watch: Senator Levin Warns That Ticking Clock Presents 'Possibly Insurmountable Challenge' for 'DADT' Repeal

Senator Carl Levin spoke on the Senate floor this morning and warned of the ticking clock, saying that the only way this Defense bill and DADT repeal will happen is if the vote happens now.

LevinSaid Levin: "Even if we get 60 votes today to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill and even if we’re able to consider amendments and pass this bill in a few days, it will be a possibly insurmountable challenge to work out all of the differences with the House. Over the last 10 years, madam President, it has taken an average of 75 days to conference the defense authorization bill with the House, after we passed it. If we don’t proceed with this bill, this week, then involving cloture sometime next week, even if we could do it would be a symbolic victory and I don’t believe there would be enough time to hammer out a final bill before the end of the session."

Levin also talks of making DADT repeal 'real', "assuming we keep it in the bill."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

To follow news on 'DADT', check out our HUB. And "LIKE" it to follow updates on Facebook.

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Watch: General Ham, Senator Webb Praise Care and Depth of Pentagon 'DADT' Report

Ham

Senator Carl Levin asks General Carter Ham, co-chairman of the Pentagon’s Working Group on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, if he could make every effort to deliver the Pentagon report on 'DADT' before the December 1st deadline.

Ham also told Senator Joe Lieberman that the breadth of the study is impressive: "We believe this is probably, as far as I could tell, the most comprehensive assessment of a personnel policy matter that the Department of Defense has conducted."

And Senator Jim Webb praised the care and depth of the study:

"I can't, again having spent five years in the Pentagon. I can't remember a study on this type of issue that has been done with this sort of care. Not even having seen it or knowing the results, but I know the preparation that went into it. So it's going to be a very important study for us to look at and examine."

Last night Senator Harry Reid committed to bring the measure to a vote in December sometime during the lame duck session.

Watch all the clips, AFTER THE JUMP...

(thanks to igor volsky at the wonk room)

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Lawmakers: 'DADT' Repeal May Be Stripped from Defense Bill; Obama to Engage After Release of Pentagon Report

Senator Carl Levin acknowledges that the 'DADT' repeal amendment may have to be separated from the main Defense authorization bill:

Levin "I'm trying to get the bill through Congress. I'm the committee chairman for a 900 page bill. ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is two pages of 900 pages. My focus is different from the media focus. I'm just trying to get a bill passed," Levin told reporters at the Capitol building on Tuesday.

While no final decisions have been made, Levin said one option was to separate the language on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" from the rest of the bill, and then making two separate efforts to pass the both pieces of legislation.

"I'm trying to get both done. And if I can't get both done, I want to get one of them done," Levin said.

He said no decisions will be made until Congress receives the military's survey on the effect of repealing the ban, details of which were leaked to the Washington Post.

Murphy And Rep. Patrick Murphy told the Washington Blade that Obama plans to get involved after the report comes out.

In an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) said Obama has been engaged in moving Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and that this effort will expand once the Pentagon working group report — due Dec. 1 — is complete.

“I think there are different levels of engagement and, I think, once the report comes out, I think we’ll see the full spectrum of that engagement,” Murphy said.

The first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress said he expects this “full spectrum of engagement” to come from not only the White House, but also the president’s “own Department of Defense.”

Murphy also commented on the possibility of stripping the repeal amendment:

Amid reports that talks are taking place to potentially strip the defense authorization bill of its repeal language, Murphy said Republicans have sought a bill without the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision.

“I think that’s what the Republicans would like to see,” Murphy said. ”But I think those of us in the House and 78 percent of the American people and those in the military currently serving want to see the Senate do what’s right and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and put it on the president’s desk, so he can sign it into law.”

With limited time remaining this Congress, it’s possible lawmakers won’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year, leaving Obama to come up with another game plan — perhaps non-congressional action such as a stop-loss order — to put an end to the gay ban.

Full transcript of Murphy interview at the Blade.


WSJ: 'DADT Repeal' to Be Stripped from Defense Bill, Die Alone

The WSJ reports that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal is "all but lost for the foreseeable future".

Levin_mccain Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it. With a repeal attached, and amid Republican complaints over the terms of the debate, the defense bill had failed to win the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle in the Senate in September.

A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, who opposes the repeal, confirmed he is in talks with Mr. Levin on how to proceed on the defense bill but didn't provide details.

The measure is not among the four priorities listed for the coming Comgressional session by WH Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Those include "tax cuts, a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia, a child nutrition bill and confirmation of Jack Lew as White House budget director." DADT was not named because they expect heavy Republican opposition to the measure.

Others are weighing in

Tommy Sears, executive director of the Center for Military Readiness, which opposes a repeal, rated the chance of action "extremely low." Richard Socarides, an activist and former adviser on gay rights to President Bill Clinton, said it was "extremely unrealistic'' that Congress would take it up this year.

Earlier this weekend, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed similar concerns about Republican opposition to the DADT repeal measure: "I would like to see the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are."

SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis expressed his concerns in a statement released on Sunday:

"We welcome Secretary Gates call for the Senate to act on repeal in the lame duck session. Indeed, the Senate should call up the defense bill reported out of committee and pass it before it goes home for the year. If the President, Majority Leader Reid, Secretary Gates, and a handful of Republican senators are committed to passing the comprehensive defense bill, there is ample time to do so. Any talk about a watered down defense bill, whereby the 'Don't Ask' revisions would be stripped out, is unacceptable and offensive to the gay and lesbian service members who risk their lives every day."

So, back in February when activists and bloggers were complaining that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was not going to happen and appealed to the nation's largest LGBT lobbying organization, HRC, to exert its touted influence over the White House, the group insisted that we shouldn't worry, that there was a clear path to repeal. So what now?

Drive to Repeal 'Don't Ask' Policy All but Lost for Now' [wsj]

Previously - Feb 10
Situation Normal on DADT: All F-ed Up [tr]
Barney Frank Says White House 'Muddled on DADT; HRC Insists Road to Repeal is Clear [tr]


Watch:
John McCain Enraged Over DADT, Hate Crimes on the Defense Bills

Mccain

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) obstructed Senator Carl Levin's (D-MI) attempts to schedule floor debate on the Defense Authorization bill for when the Senate returns from its one month recess, because he's angry that last year hate crimes was attached to the bill, and this year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is attached.

Those gays!

"Filled up the tree! Filled up the tree!"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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John McCain Enraged Over DADT, Hate Crimes on the Defense Bills" »


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