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Filed under: DADT trial

Do or die time on #DADT: Courage Campaign and HRC pushing Senate to bring repeal to a vote before lame-duck session ends

by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign

Today, as CNN’s homepage prominently features Jeff Sheng’s poignant photographs of LGBT servicemembers on active duty, the Courage Campaign joined the Human Rights Campaign, asking our members to call their Senators to urge them to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the lame-duck session.

Please read our email, copied below, and let us know how your Senator is planning to vote:

Dear Friend —

It’s “do or die” time for the push to repeal the military’s failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in Congress.

What each of us does today — and how our national leaders respond to that pressure — will determine whether years of work to overturn DADT succeeds or fails.

The Senate’s “lame duck” session begins today — our last, best hope to end this discrimination before the new Congress shows up in January, with the House under staunchly anti-LGBT leadership. If the U.S. Senate does not bring the National Defense Authorization Act to a vote before the next session of Congress, legislative repeal of DADT will be dead — perhaps for years to come.

Do or die. This is it. That’s why the Courage Campaign and Human Rights Campaign are teaming up to launch a huge campaign today to call every U.S. senator and hold them accountable.

That’s right. Every. Single. Senator. Even if your senators are already with us on this issue, they need to know that their constituents expect them to apply as much pressure as possible to their colleagues to do the right thing on DADT — before it’s too late.

It’s extremely important that you call your senators right now at (202) 224-3121 and demand that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” must end BEFORE the new Congress takes over. After you hang up, please click here and tell us what happened on your call:

The last time the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came up for a vote in the Senate a few months ago, Sen. John McCain led Republicans in a filibuster of the national defense spending bill that contains the repeal. They blocked it from an up-or-down vote – even though nearly 8 in 10 Americans now favor repealing the law.

As Gov. Howard Dean wrote in an email to Courage members earlier this year:

“Americans clearly understand that if someone is brave enough to take a bullet for the USA, then they should have the same equal rights guaranteed to every American under the law — whether they are serving in the military, or when they come home.”

Before time runs out, we need Senate Democrats to bring the defense bill to the floor and we need Republicans to stop threatening to derail the entire thing – including critical military equipment and pay raises – just to keep this discriminatory law on the books.

No matter where your senators stand, speaking out today will send them a powerful message. Join the Courage Campaign and HRC today by calling your senators right now at (202) 224-3121. Tell them to act this week. Click here to let us know that you made the call:

Thank you for taking action today so that we can end this travesty once and for all.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

29 Comments November 15, 2010

BREAKING: Supreme Court will NOT vacate 9th Circuit stay on DADT; gay ban still in effect

By Eden James

SCOTUSblog has the details:

The Supreme Court, without noting any dissent, agreed on Friday to leave the military’s “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy in effect while its constitutionality is under review in lower courts. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy referred the issue to the full Court. Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the order.

The order means the policy will remain in effect at least through March, unless Congress repeals it — an unlikely prospect.

As to Kagan’s recusal:

When the Pietrangelo petition was before the Court, Elena Kagan, then U.S. Solicitor General, opposed review, saying that case was “an unsuitable vehicle” for the Court to use to review “don’t ask/don’t tell.” Kagan, of course, is now a member of the Supreme Court. Kagan was not yet in office as Solicitor General in February 2009 when the Obama Administration asked the Supreme Court to give it more time to pursue an appeal of a major Ninth Circuit Court ruling on the policy — the Circuit Court’s ruling in Witt v. Department the Air Force. Although the Administration was given until May to file such a petition, it opted not to do so. Kagan was sworn in as Solicitor General on March 20, 2009; it is not known whether she took part in the government decision at that time not to appeal that case.

Statement from Alex Nicholson at Servicemembers United:

“It is unfortunate that an unconstitutional law that is causing substantial harm to military readiness and to tens of thousands of troops is allowed to remain in effect for even one more day,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the only named veteran plaintiff in the case. “This just underscores the need to continue to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to allow the defense authorization bill to come back up and take its first procedural step before the Senate’s Thanksgiving recess. Servicemembers United, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Stonewall Democrats, and the Log Cabin Republicans have all strongly and consistently called on Senator Reid to do just that. It is now time for other organizations, as well as the White House, to publicly do the same.”

Scribd doc below:

[scribd id=42218841 key=key-15964k08wt65rbb5hx60 mode=list]

More to come, as news develops.

UPDATE: Statements from R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, and Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing LCR in the case:

“Log Cabin Republicans are disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo with regards to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but we are not surprised,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. “We are committed to pursuing every avenue in the fight against this failed and unconstitutional policy. Log Cabin will continue working to secure the votes needed for legislative repeal, and if necessary, we look forward to seeing President Obama’s attorneys in court next year to prove, once again, that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ doesn’t work.”

“We are disappointed by the Court’s ruling to deny our application to vacate the stay by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,” said Dan Woods, White & Case partner who is representing Log Cabin Republicans. “With the likelihood of Congress repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ fading with each passing day, judicial relief continues to be perhaps the most viable avenue for ending this unconstitutional policy. We and Log Cabin Republicans will continue to fight on to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans who want to serve in our military without regard to their sexual orientation. Our next step will be to ask the Ninth Circuit to expedite the government’s appeal from Judge Phillips’s judgment and injunction.”

94 Comments November 12, 2010

VIDEO: Cindy McCain connects the dots between bullying and DADT

By Eden James

Cindy McCain and some friends from Hollywood have a few words to say about the consequences of bullying — and its connection to the fact that gays and lesbians “can’t serve our country openly.”


42 Comments November 12, 2010

DADT under fire on Veterans Day: Pentagon study leaked; veterans and families call for repeal

by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign

There’s been a lot of movement around “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the past 24 hours:

Yesterday, Courage Campaign joined Iraq war veteran Congressman Patrick Murphy in asking veterans and their families to amplify their voices on Veterans Day — and call on the Senate to act now to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Your response has been amazing and within 24 hours, 30,364 people have responded, including 5,801 veterans and their families.

Also today, much of the long-awaited Pentagon study on implementing a repeal of DADT has been leaked, with the Washington post reporting Pentagon sources saying the study found the impact of its repeal to “be positive, mixed or nonexistent.”

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.

Certainly these findings aren’t unexpected, but do serve to confirm what military leaders, Senators, and servicemembers have been saying all along: That the time to repeal DADT is now. Though opponents of the repeal will certainly attempt to mis-categorize isolated responses from the study, supporters of DADT’s repeal can now add the weight of a 370 page study, from the frank opinions of nearly 550,000 active duty or reservist servicemembers and their spouses, to their ever growing list of supporters.

Elsewhere, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released this video, highlighting the sacrifice of all our servicemembers this Veterans Day. Can you tell which ones are gay?

We couldn’t either.

48 Comments November 11, 2010

Rep. Patrick Murphy: Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? It’s a matter of honor.

With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” facing uncertainty in the U.S. Senate, Congressman Patrick J. Murphy asked us to send this message to our members before Veterans Day on Thursday. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Congressman Murphy is the son of a police officer and a legal secretary, a proud husband and father, a former West Point professor, and an Iraq war veteran. — Eden

By Congressman Patrick Murphy

When I take on a job, I finish it.

After September 11, I volunteered to fight for my country. I became a Captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded a Bronze Star while serving in Iraq. While in Baghdad, I counseled many active-duty servicemembers who came to me with tortured souls, concerned that their sexual orientation might end their military careers, as a result of the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  

One particular soldier’s internal conflict was profound. I can still remember his pained and heartbreaking questions. Should he lie? Should he tell the truth and then be kicked out of the Army? What would he do if he was wounded and couldn’t tell the person he loved?

When I ran for public office in 2006, I became the first Iraq war veteran to be elected to Congress. Unfortunately, my time in the House of Representatives will be coming to an end soon — but I still have some unfinished business. Last May, I promised those young men and women whom I counseled that I would do everything in my power to put an end to DADT so they could serve their country openly and proudly.  

That’s why I led the fight in the House to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” passing historic legislation in May that is now in limbo in the Senate. With Veterans Day coming up on Thursday and only a few weeks left until the Senate’s lame-duck session ends, the clock is running out on repeal — perhaps for years to come.

Now I’m asking you to help me finish the job. With the lame-duck session starting Monday, I need you to sign the Courage Campaign’s petition to Senators Reid, Levin, McConnell and McCain immediately. Once the U.S. Senate is back in session, I’ll deliver your signature — and nearly 600,000 other signatures collected by Courage supporting repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

To amplify the voices of those most impacted by this policy, we’re looking for veterans — and their friends, family and neighbors — to take action before Veterans Day. Whether you are a veteran, or just want to sign on in support, please click one of the following two links:

OPTION 1: Are you a military veteran, a member of a military family, or do you know a veteran? CLICK HERE TO SIGN.

OPTION 2: If you are NOT a veteran, CLICK HERE TO SIGN.

Even though a CNN poll showed that 78% of Americans think the ban should end and even though the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said it should end, John McCain and others still think this is a political issue.

It’s not a political issue. It’s a matter of national security. It’s a matter of integrity. It’s a matter of honor.

We’ve worked hard over the last two years to end this discriminatory policy. Let’s get the job done.

53 Comments November 10, 2010

Crunch time on #DADT: Lame-duck session provides last-best hope to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

by Andy Kelley
New Media Organizer, Courage Campaign

There were several key developments this weekend for advocates seeking to push a vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” during the lame-duck session of Congress, including Defense Secretary Gates voicing his support for the repeal. “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,” Secretary Gates told the AP on Saturday.

However, as Kerry Eleveld reports for the Advocate, Secretary Gates support comes at a time when it’s uncertain what impact they might have:

Over the weekend, observers of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debate began cautiously acknowledging that an effort is in the works to potentially move a stripped down version of the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that would exclude repeal.

A person close to the process said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is looking into a deal with Sec. Gates that would cut ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ out of the Defense bill in order to smooth its way to passage.

“Levin is making calls under the premise – we can’t afford to waste time on a controversial provision, so we’ll strip out the controversial provision and be able to get the bill on and off the floor in the available amount of time,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Despite Gates support, and the uncertainty of if DADT will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote, Gen. James Amos, Marine Commandant, reiterated his oposition to lifting the ban, telling the Los Angeles Times:

“There’s risk involved,” Amos said. “I’m trying to determine how to measure that risk. This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness.”

According to the Army Times, Amos’ opposition came as news to Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who told reporters he was “surprised by what he[Amos] said and surprised he said it publicly.” Especially after the service chiefs had agreed to “look at the data and then make our recommendations privately.”

In response to mixed signals from the Obama Administration on its commitment to prioritize repealing DADT, Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United, issued the following statement:

“President Obama and his spokesman have had several opportunities to publicly declare the administration’s set of priorities for the lame duck session of Congress. Unfortunately, completing the defense authorization bill has not been included among those priorities,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “These omissions stand in stark contrast to what the President and his staff are saying elsewhere. Mr. President, either your administration is with us or its against us, and a mediocre level of public advocacy from your White House is not standing with us.”

As for those of us here at the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, we remain hopeful that there will be movement on this critical issue soon, and will continue to bring you the latest updates as they continue to develop.

UPDATE BY EDEN: Karen Ocamb has more on DADT at LGBTPOV, including this update on the SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy’s response to the Log Cabin Republicans’ attempt to overturn the stay from the 9th Circuit:

Meanwhile, the Log Cabin Republicans lawsuit against the government challenging the constitutionality of DADT took another bold turn. On Friday, attorney Dan Woods, who has represented LCR since the case was first filed in 2004, asked the US Supreme Court overrule the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to keep DADT in effect while the case winds its way through the judicial system. The 9th Circuit was responding to an appeal by the Department of Justice to stay an injunction against further enforcement of DADT ordered by District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, who ruled that DADT is unconstitutional and harms the military and gay soldiers.

Justice Anthony Kennedy told the Justice Department to file its response to the LCR’s motion by 5:00pm Eastern time on Wednesday. According to the Washington Post, Kennedy handles appeals from the 9th Circuit and “he can either rule on the case on his own or refer it to the entire court.”

“The 9th Circuit order was arbitrary and an abuse of discretion and should be vacated immediately,” said Woods said in a statement. “We continue to look forward to the day when all Americans can serve in our military without regard to their sexual orientation.”

Harvard Law School graduate Ari Ezra Waldman, who is now on the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego, has an analysis of the LCR filing at Towleroad.

44 Comments November 8, 2010

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