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DADT a done deal

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By Julia Rosen

What a week for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on the Hill. Just when many people started to believe that it was increasingly unlikely that DADT would be repealed this year in Congress, a compromise emerged.

Here’s where we stand now. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee added the repeal language to the defense authorization bill with a 16-12 vote behind closed doors. Later the full House voted 229-186 to add the identical repeal language to their version of the defense bill. The entire House voted on Friday to pass the defense bill. Now all we need is the full Senate to approve their defense bill, then it goes to reconciliation (where the bills get merged) and on to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

While the chiefs of the branches of the military are sending letters saying this is not a done deal, it is and here is why. The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines do not set the policy of which sexual orientations are allowed to serve in the military. This language in the defense bill gives that to the Defense Secretary (Gates), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Mullen) and the Commander in Chief (Obama). Gates/Mullen are working on a report on how (not if) to implement repeal. The military is getting input from service members for that report. More from Aravosis:

The train has left the station, and the cat is out of the bag. It’s over. McHugh and Casey lost, fair and square. The President, their boss, said what he wanted to do, Congress put its stamp on the proposal, and is in the process of enacting it into law. With all due respect to McHugh and Casey, it is now irrelevant that they think the repeal of DADT is not a done deal. The commander in chief and Congress have now spoken. Game over. They lost. They don’t get to revisit the issue, like some Argentine junta, simply because they disagree with the democratic outcome.

As the media made clear last week, everyone thinks that Congress voted to repeal DADT last week. And everyone in Congress thinks they did the same. That’s why people like Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) refused to endorse the compromise – because he thought the compromise would make DADT repeal a “done deal.” That’s why all of the joint chiefs wrote to McCain to stop the legislation from being passed last week – and it’s why two of the chiefs thought that the legislation outright repealed DADT. Because they thought that the compromise was in effect repeal, and thus made repeal a done deal.

I’ll say it again. Regardless of whether you think the compromise will lead to full repeal next year, all of the actors in this drama – from the President, to the Democrats and even Republicans in Congress, to the joint chiefs – all believed that a vote for this legislation was a vote for full repeal. That the intent of our elected leaders, was full repeal. Period.

Aravosis also asked Speaker Pelosi today about the current dust up over what the chiefs of the military are saying about the language that just passed in Congress. Her response “This is over.”

This could still get screwed up. We don’t know what will be in the Gates/Mullen report, but what is important is that we project strength. That way when things go wrong we can organize an outcry and say that was not Congress’s intent. Congress repealed DADT and told Gates/Mullen to finish what they started, finding a way to implement the repeal in accordance with the wishes of the President of the United States. Change isn’t easy or quick and we must stay vigilant, if we are going to ensure that service members can serve openly and proudly.

And don’t forget that McCain is vowing to filibuster the full defense authorization bill in the Senate. That will be a major battle.

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40 Comments

  • 1. Ronnie  |  June 1, 2010 at 7:55 am

    It is a guarantee that if this gets screwed up that the gov. is going to have a lot of angry Americans…they really should see the rio(I mean writing on the wall)…..

    as for McLaims "filibuster"….I got a fill for you buster…<3…Ronnie

  • 2. K!r!lleXXI  |  June 1, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Done deal, huh?
    Well, let's hope so!
    We simply ask for a decision. It is clear it will take a lot of time to actually implement that decision, but what should be done (right after the decision is actually made) is ensuring that gay and lesbian soldiers that were outed somehow stay in the forces and do not get kicked out (dishonorably discharged) for simply who they are! This has got to stop NOW, ASAP!

  • 3. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

    K!r!lleXXI : Under DADT service members are not dishonorably discharged, unless there is more to their discharge than just being Gay.

  • 4. cc  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I'm confused. Don't get me wrong I want DADT repealed but could this action cause problems down the road? Remember before DADT, LGBT could not serve in the military. Now that DADT is off the books (so to say) then can't they just implement the law before DADT (NO GAYS ALLOWED ); if the Gates/ Mullen findings proves or voices concern that LGBT in the military will cause harm?

  • 5. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:24 am

    CC: They could yes, BUT, they would have to be able to show absolute 'proof' that Gays would somehow be harmful to the military…..and we already know for a fact that there is no such proof. Gay men and women are serving now and have been for as long as there has been a military, so I wouldn't worry to much about the 'What IFs'.

  • 6. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:30 am

    As the husband of a now retired military man I wonder how 'they' will handle the spouses/partners of military personnel once DADT goes away.
    Of the 24 yrs my husband served I was there for 22 yrs of it. Waiting at home for him to return from his 6 to 8 to 10 month deployments. I really wonder what if any benefits/privileges we the partners will get…..I wonder if we will be treated at all like a true spouse

  • 7. Jeremy  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I wish I could get a clear answer on this. How does this affect Log Cabin Republicans v. USA? I have heard a bunch of opinions from bloggers, but nothing concrete.

    I am stunned that throughout this entire 2 week story, not one time have I heard mentioned the fact that a FEDERAL TRIAL challenging the constitutionality of DADT and de jure anti-gay military discrimination is coming up in exactly 2 weeks. Think about that– for the first time since 1993 we get to challenge DADT at trial. Why isn't anyone discussing that? This case could get us complete equality in the military and an immediate injunction on discharges, many months before "the study" comes out.

  • 8. Kathleen  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:06 am

    It's not the first challenge. See Witt v. Department of the Air Force

  • 9. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:16 am

    What needs to happen now is that we need to all get together and work to remove all those who vote againt the DAB now that the DADT repeal is part of it.

  • 10. Ray in MA  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

    But??? What about Obama threatening to veto the defense bill if it contains the $250B for those expensive fighter jets (Gates agrees with him) It has been included as far I I know.

    Sorry, I have no reference URL, but it's common knowledge as far as I know.

    I'm surpirsed it wasn't mentioned here.

    I smell a deceit … a quick trick in the mix.

  • 11. Kathleen  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

    If you read the Witt opinion, you'll see listed quite a few other cases that have challenged the law. It's tough to challenge a law that regulates the military; the government is given a great deal of latitude when it comes to regulating the armed force.

    Witt is interesting, because it doesn't necessarily invalidate DADT, but it sets a standard for dismissal under the policy that puts the burden on the military to show the dismissal advances a legitimate governmental interest in the specific case of the dismissed individual, not just some sort of theoretical notion that a g or l service member is bad for morale, etc. http://www.aclu-wa.org/cases/witt-v-us-air-force

  • 12. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:20 am

    CC, lgbt could serve even before DADT, but you had to lie even then, due to an article in the UCMJ that allowed you to be dishonorably discharged for being gay. It was a constant source of fear for many of us, especially during peace time. I know. I was in the navy in the early 80's and was repeatedly asked about my orientation–during my initial physical for the DEP, for my physical when I went from DEP status to active, my physical in boot camp, every examination I had at any point in my service.

  • 13. Bolt  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:05 am

    How will this effect the Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruling? If the U.S. congress repeals DADT, wouldn't that prove that we're not a suspect class in this case?

  • 14. Ronnie  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

    No….we can still get fired from our jobs, we can't married, binational couples can't be together in the country, hate crimes, bashing, and murdering has risen, and we are still not equal under the law even though the constitution says that all are equal under the law..we are still treated like 2nd class citizens….we are a suspect class…. > ( ….Ronnie

  • 15. chamisaguy  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Not until DOMA goes away — unfortunately. I think DOMA overrides any DADT provision/future inclusion of same sex partners in benefits. No federal (including military) recognition of same sex marriage/spousal benefits, etc from other opinions I've read.

    I think that's why the triad of repeals or amended legislation(DADT, DOMA, and ENDA) is so important to full equality –

  • 16. Jeremy  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:34 am

    LCR v. USA is different than the other challenges, This is the first facial challenge to DADT on equal protection grounds. The other suits were brought by individuals, claiming their rights had been violated. That's why I think this case will be different than the others. It is hard to expect courts to second-guess how the military handles each individual personnel issue. It's another thing entirely to challenge a law as it applies to an entire class.

  • 17. Jeremy  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Congress is not repealing DADT. It is giving the Pentagon and President the ability to do that, if certain stipulations have been made. I don't see how this proves that LGBs are in any way powerful. A Dem Congress and a Dem President, and large majorities in favor of DADT repeal, and this is all LGB servicemembers get. "We MIGHT let you serve openly, if we feel like it. And we can still treat you differently". I would actually say this whole sorry episode proves how powerless we actually are. If LGBs were indeed powerful, wouldn't they have forced Obama and the Dems to immediately repeal DADT and mandate total non-discrimination?

    Further, Truman desegregated the armed forces by executive order in the 1940s. That surely didn't make African Americans politically powerful, or make them any less of a suspect class (remember, Brown v. Board of Education came down AFTER the armed forces were desegregated).

  • 18. Kathleen  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I'll have to read the complaint to see if there's anything unique about it, but other cases, including Witt, challenged the law on equal protection grounds.

  • 19. cc  |  June 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Mmm, I'm just a worry wart I guess. I just don't want to see this take us a horrible 5 steps backward instead of 1 step forward.

  • 20. Kathleen  |  June 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Jeremy,

    Here's a pretty good paper analyzing the legal challenges to DADT since it was implemented – both pre and post Lawrence.
    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40795.pdf

  • 21. Dan Hess  |  June 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Wish they would have added language suspending all discharges under DADT pending completion of the DoD study and subsequent repeal, but you can't have it all.

    Also, the new fighter jets are a good idea (though I wish they'd have gone with the F-22 instead of the F-35. My enlisted friends all agree that the F-16 needs to be replaced sooner rather than later–they're getting more expensive to maintain than it would cost to replace them with newer equipment, and the F-22's so much more effective it's not even funny.

  • 22. K!r!lleXXI  |  June 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thank you, Mark M., for correcting me!
    I don't know why I thought the discharge was dishonorable… I guess, because it certainly feels like one — how else can it feel when you're being kicked out of the military not because you want to or because you've done something wrong, but simply because you are who you are, and deep down you know there is nothing wrong with it, or that you can even change it, or that you chose to be that way? It may not be dishonorable on paper, but it is in spirit… spirit of insult and offense.

  • 23. chamisaguy  |  June 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Call me "cynical" – at this point I tend to trust Adm Mullen, but I don't trust Secretary Gates to "certify" at the end of the implementation study….nor President Obama really, since I haven't seen much evidence of real "fierce" advocacy there. Two out of 3 required final "certifications" looking less than certain, to me….

    And I surely agree that an executive directive to suspend further discharges pending the outcome would be the right thing to do, since it's not "if" but "when" the DADT policy/law are fully repealed and rewritten (if we believe the rhetoric) – and in the meantime the human asset hemorrhage will continue. Shame! Press on, GetEqual!

  • 24. JACK gILES  |  June 2, 2010 at 12:31 am

    From what I've read, and I'm raking my brain to remember where, the proposed $250B for the jet engines that the President is opposed to is in the House Bill, but not in the Senate Bill.

  • 25. Straight Ally #3008  |  June 2, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Let's say that Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Jim Webb don't change their positions from the committee vote and vote against and for the filibuster, respectively, in the full Senate vote (and in the case of Webb, I think that would be the first time in recent memory that a member of the majority party voted for a filibuster from the minority party – anyone?). Sen. Olympia Snowe is, as far as I know, in favor of repealing DADT as well, so that still puts them a vote shy. McCain would have to count on Webb and at least one other Democrat defecting. It will be interesting to see if he pushes it to an actual vote – I hope this is more of the pre-primary bluster.

  • 26. Joe  |  June 2, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Why would you say it's a done deal? It still has to clear a senate filibuster, and that's anything but a sure thing. Don't get our hopes up like that. The last paragraph of this post is REALLY what we need to worry about.

  • 27. jonathonedwards  |  June 2, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Why are our organizations swallowing the kool aid on this one? This isn't a done deal. At all. Its an indefinite postponement. If the pentagon jimmies up the "study" and comes back with the "conclusion" is that implementation of the repeal would hurt troop readiness, Mullen and Gates won't certify and the policy will stay in place. With the service chiefs "rallying" opposition within the ranks, I think that outcome is almost a certainty. DADT isn't dead. It's been preserved indefinitely.

    So why are our community organizations drinking the "done deal" kool aid? Because they have to send out fundraising letters that indicate "progress". The administration is using us and so are our own leaders.

  • 28. Brian  |  June 2, 2010 at 6:44 am

    @jonathonedwards: I'd have to slightly disagree with you, mainly because I feel your demonizing unfairly. While some "community organizations" have their failings, most of them are doing the work that we (as voting and spending individual units of change) should be doing (if I didn't have to work so dang much :)

    And whether or not it's a done deal is a moot point to me because there's so much work still to be done that I'm willing to give whatever it takes to get full equality.

    Love,
    Brian

  • 29. K!r!lleXXI  |  June 2, 2010 at 6:53 am

    @jonathonedwards

    They say in Asia, “Nothing is done until it's all done.”
    I'll rephrase: “Nothing is a done deal until it's actually done.”
    I agree with that.

    The thing is, they promised the report will be about how to repeal DADT, not about if to repeal it. But they are politicians! And what they say about politicians? — don't trust their words! they say many things, but only a handful of their promises actually get done, and only to show that they can get things done and to ensure re-election… So, it's a waiting game now… Time will tell who's a rat and who's really having things done!

    K

  • 30. Tim W  |  June 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I agree too many of you are drinking the kool aid. Mullen has already backtracked a little. My guess is when the study is concluded in December we are going to get the same crap we have in the past. We will here we will eventually implement the repeal just not right now with the two wars going on etc. we cannot take the chance. Then this will linger for years as more and more LGB soldiers are discharged. Done deal hardly. Stop drinking the kool aid.

  • 31. KrissKringle  |  June 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    This is what concerns me, "The military is getting input from service members for that report." Does anyone else see the catch-22 here. Unless this input comes freely from the lgbt service community, meaning no chance of repercussions, the reporting will be biased. We are fighting for a chance to be ourselves, yet how many service members are silent on issues because of reprisal under DADT. I was in the Navy in the early 80's. The majority of my shipmates knew my sexual orientation and were not troubled by it then. Have the attitudes regressed in the past twenty five years?

  • 32. Richard A. Walter (s  |  June 3, 2010 at 2:30 am

    OT, but we have lost another one. I think someone posted a clip from "Golden Girls" about the importance of Marriage Equality. Rue McClanahan has died of a stroke.

    RIP, Blanche Devereaux
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/ap_on_en_tv/u

  • 33. Ronnie  |  June 3, 2010 at 2:34 am

    "Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without"~Rue McClanahan…. RIP…… : ( ..Ronnie

  • 34. Alto  |  June 3, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Pay attention to how each member of Congress votes on this issue, and be sure to vote accordingly in the primaries and in November. The people voting on this will be the same people that will have the ability to push forward other issues that will eventually guarantee the same rights that have been offered to straight couples, equality for blacks, etc. This has the ability to finally begin to give a giant push for gay rights and equality.

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    Its about time the DADT is repealed, please pass this bill!!

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