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04/19/2007


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 I think it would be a setback for those of us who think that the program should be repealed.'"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.

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


Obama to Address 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in State of the Union Speech

The likely reason for the delay in hearings scheduled for this week on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is that Obama plans to announce his intentions regarding the policy in this Wednesday's State of the Union address to Congress:

Dadt "Levin said Monday that an announcement of the hearings has been delayed at the request of senior Defense Department officials until after President Obama’s speech. Levin said he does not know what Obama might say, but he expects it will be an announcement of the administration’s intentions. Hearings were supposed to start with military leaders, Levin said, but he might change the order to get hearings underway if senior military officials need more time to prepare. 'I am willing to switch things up,' he said. 'I am committed to starting the hearings in February.' Having junior officers and noncommissioned officers and petty officers testify could be an important step in getting the policy changed, Levin said, especially because he believes there are 'generational differences' in views about the presence of gays and lesbians in the ranks. Younger people are more likely to be accepting of a policy change than older people, Levin said."


Internal Pentagon Memo: 'Hold Off' on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

The AP reveals the contents of an internal memo from Pentagon attorneys advising delay on a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":

Dadt Lawyers for the nation's top military officer are recommending holding off on an internal Pentagon effort that could lead to the repeal of the ban on openly gay military service. The delay could push a decision by Congress to the middle of the next presidential election.

Other advisers at the Pentagon, however, argue that lifting the ban would not cause unmanageable problems or divisions among the uniformed military, according to two U.S. officials. They discussed internal conversations about the ban on condition of anonymity.

''Now is not the time,'' the in-house legal counsel for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote recently in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press. ''The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns, demand that we act with deliberation.''

According to the AP, Mullen and others have "quietly begun a new push" for new repeal timing.

Mullen Joint Chiefs legal advisers recommended delaying the start of the repeal process into 2011, with the Pentagon sending a proposed replacement law to Congress by late summer of that year. That would be after the White House says it will begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan, and a few months before all U.S. forces are due to leave Iraq.

Congress would follow with debate lasting six months to a year, the legal advisers wrote, meaning repeal would be unlikely until 2012. The memo does not spell it out, but that is a presidential election year when Obama will presumably run for a second term. The calendar calculates that the Iraq war would be over and the Afghanistan war smaller before the ban is lifted.

Yesterday, the Advocate reported that Carl Levin was lining up DADT hearings for later this month but this new report says that doesn't mean a lot:

...but that does not mean Congress would truly begin work on a new law that would allow openly gay service. Levin has asked Gates to request that the RAND Corp. think tank update its 1993 study on gays in the military before he goes ahead. That outside study would be expected to take several months.


Senate Hearings on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Postponed Indefinitely

U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have been postponed:

Levin "A planned November hearing by the US Senate Armed Services Committee to consider ending a ban on gays serving openly in the US military will be postponed, a spokeswoman indicated Friday. 'We do not have a date' for the hearing, said the aide, Tara Andringa. Committee staff have been working on Afghanistan issues ahead of President Barack Obama's decision on whether to send more troops, and more recently on the aftermath of the shock rampage at the sprawling Fort Hood military base. The panel's chairman, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, had said in late October that it would hold a hearing in November and that he hoped to 'to find a way to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'' as the policy is widely known."

Lez Get Real talked to Levin's office

"'Yes, we don’t know when that is going to happen,' said an aide from Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin’s office. In October Levin had said that his committee would begin holding hearing in November and that he hoped to “to find a way to repeal the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” policy. But, Levin said in an interview on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers program, scheduled to air Sunday, the hearings on any possible repeal of 'DADT' will likely happen next year...According to the staffer, Levin also stressed in his Newsmakers interview, that the delay necessitated by current events should not be interpreted 'as any effort to avoid the hearing' on the subject however. While giving no timetable for the hearings, Levin did say that the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act could be one of the vehicles to carry repeal legislation. Both the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are also backing the strategy of using next years defense authorization bill to change the policy on LGBT’s serving in the military according to Capitol Hill insiders."


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