The DADT repeal dance begins again

by on November 7, 2010  •  In Congress, Military

Over the weekend, politicos and one service Chief of Staff  Imgres began weighing in on the post-election landscape for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The lame duck session of the Senate will probably begin November 15, break for Thanksgiving, and then return for the first half of December. Without strong leadership, there will be no DADT repeal anytime soon.

From Metro Weekly:

On Saturday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters, "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," according to the Associated Press. Gates said Congress should act in the lame-duck session to do so.

The comments came on the heels of comments from the new Marine commandant, Gen. James Amos, who said Saturday that combat is "intimate" and that this intimacy makes him uncertain of the impact of repealing DADT on "unit cohesion" and "combat effectiveness.

According to the Associated Press, Amos said, "There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women – and when you talk of infantry, we're talking our young men – laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion, it's combat effectiveness."

Back in May, it was at this point in the legislative process — right before congressional action was thought to begin happening (and did happen) — when all of the service chiefs issued letters questioning the timing of the amendment being considered in both chambers' Armed Services committees…

With preliminary reports about the survey of servicemembers suggesting that opposition to openly gay and lesbian service is not as widespread as some of the service chiefs have suggested, and with questions about the ongoing appeal of Log Cabin Republicans v. United States as the background scene, it is not clear that — despite the comments from Amos — all of the service chiefs would be willing to send a similar letter opposing lame-duck passage of the repeal amendment…

The people in the military leadership to watch in the next few days, then, are the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen — who made a strong statement in support of repeal before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February — as well as Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey Jr., chief of naval operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Air Force chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz.

If Amos stands alone in the military leadership as speaking out against DADT repeal in the lame-duck session — or if Casey, Roughead or Schwartz speak out in favor of lame-duck repeal — the momentum for action in the lame-duck session could get a major boost. If Amos finds his comments echoed in coming days by his colleagues, repeal advocates will need to confront that reality with political strength in order to offset the military leaders' comments…

But the Wall Street Journal calls the repeal effort "all but lost:"

The drive in Congress to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy appears all but lost for the foreseeable future… Advocates on both sides believed the issue had a chance of coming up in this month's post-election session of Congress. Now that looks unlikely.

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…

Moving the defense bill is complex, especially if it includes controversial measures, because it could take two weeks or longer on the Senate floor, and the coming session is expected to last only three or four weeks…

 "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," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters traveling with him in Australia.

Asked what the White House priorities are for the coming congressional session, press secretary Robert Gibbs named four issues—tax cuts, a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia, a child nutrition bill and confirmation of Jack Lew as White House budget director. Asked why he wouldn't put gays in the military on the list, Mr. Gibbs said it looked like Republicans would block action.


One Response to The DADT repeal dance begins again

  1. Bucky November 7, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Where is the Commander in Chief during this debate? You know, the “fierce advocate” who wants to repeal DADT? The man who gives the marching orders to the Joint Chiefs? He obviously hasn’t realized that he is the one in charge of the military. He is the person responsible for giving the marching orders. If he had any leadership at all, he would tell the Joint Chiefs to STFU and support the repeal of DADT. They serve at his pleasure.

    Unfortunately, we’ve seen that Obama has no leadership skills, on this or any other matter. And he has been the bitch of the Joint Chiefs from day one.


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