SLDN tells us where we are on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

We’ve all been trying to figure out what’s going on with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. So, I went to the source. Kevin Nix, the communications director from SLDN. He sent us this post on where we are:

Regular readers of this blog know that the White House and Democratic-led Congress have been slow in getting to repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” No one is more frustrated by the sluggish pace than LGBT active-duty service members and those thousands (yes, thousands) who wish to serve but refuse to go back in the closet in order to do so. We hear from them almost every day. They wonder, What’s taking so long?

Part of the problem is how DADT is perceived inside the Beltway.

First, DADT is viewed by some as politically risky. As AMERICAblog has repeatedly pointed out, this is not 1993. The country, including a majority of weekly churchgoers, has changed dramatically both culturally and politically over the past 15 years when it comes to “gay” anything– but especially openly LGBT service members. Reams of polls, and anecdotal evidence on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, back this up. The numbers are off the charts. Few issues in American politics right now enjoy such solid bipartisan support.

Second, some think DADT repeal can be put on hold until next year or beyond. But it is at this very time—while we’re engaged in two wars—that we need to find and retain all qualified service members. It’s called the practical reality of national security (and military manpower).

The other reason for a sense of urgency is that Americans are getting fired daily for being gay or lesbian. How is this happening in the 21st century coming from the nation’s largest employer, the U.S. military?

And third, some opponents maintain there will be so-called “disruption” once the ban is lifted—that unit cohesion will be shaken if Sally is known to be a lesbian. This argument assumes all 65,000+ gay people in the military will decide—all on the same day and all around the world—to come out and “tell” en masse. (We can assure you they won’t for a variety of reasons). Or that all LGBT people will start wearing feather boas. Get real.

Folks, we’re talking military professionals who, like their straight colleagues, will (and have to) follow orders. Besides, all the findings from the 27 countries who already have open service show just the opposite whether it be “disruption” within the ranks or negative impacts upon retention, recruiting, or readiness.

Will there be some new education and adaptation needed? Sure, but don’t forget that nearly one in four U.S. troops (23 percent) say they know that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian, and of those 59 percent said they learned about the person’s sexual orientation directly from the individual (Zogby International, 2006).

Fortunately, a growing number of lawmakers aren’t buying into these misguided assumptions. Iraq veteran Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), the champion of champions, is quarterbacking the bill in the House of Representatives that ends DADT and replaces it with a nondiscrimination policy. The Military Readiness Enhancement Act has 168 cosponsors (18 of whom signed onto the bill in the four weeks after the congressman took over at the helm, a record), including a growing number of Blue Dog Democrats who come from moderate congressional districts.

In the Senate, SLDN is getting ready for the first DADT hearing, announced by Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) for the fall, in 16 years. This hearing announcement is another positive step and indication that Congress is recognizing the time for action has come.

For legislation to move through both the House and Senate in a timely fashion (the next 6-12 months), the commander in chief must be an active participant in the legislative process. Just look at the president’s engagement in current congressional debates on health insurance reform or climate change. He is, and has to be, a critical player in getting votes to follow through on his campaign promises.

The only way to make sure DADT is over–for good– is for Congress to overturn it. After 16 years of living with DADT, it’s time to permanently end it once and for all.

We definitely need your help this month during the congressional recess. Set up a face-to- face meeting with your representative and senators to discuss DADT repeal. You can find him or her here. These meetings, or phone calls, do indeed make a difference.

Thanks to AMERICAblog for this opportunity.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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