This week has seen a frenzy of activity on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We’ve been trying to get a handle on what the major gay groups are saying now about the repeal of DADT.
Today, in a post at SLDN’s blog, the organization’s Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis also called for a vote on DADT repeal this year:
Over the next 90 days our campaign is focusing on lawmakers who sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the entire Senate. We need more energy and action there. Thursday, Feb. 11 is a multi-hour DADT hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. This will be the perfect opportunity for DADT advocates to be a part of the fight. They should call both of their U.S. senators before Thursday, ask where each stands on repeal and tell them to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. SLDN will be coordinating a grassroots campaign to inundate Senate offices next week with phone calls urging senators to get repeal done in 2010.
Congress must repeal DADT this year while the Department of Defense conducts its study. Both can and should happen concurrently. DoD’s study Working Group should not hold up legislative repeal, since the study Working Group is not looking at if the law should be repealed but how. “The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it,” Sec. Gates told the committee earlier this week. And Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) wrote, “A study should not unduly delay taking our last steps toward final action.”
Also, the head of the Human Rights Campaign said it was the organization’s position that a vote should take place this year. Yesterday, on Mike Signorile’s radio show, Joe Solmonese enunciated HRC’s position. The audio is here and this exchange occurs at around the 11:50 mark:
Signorile: Is HRC on board pushing for a vote to repeal that would basically say that it wouldn’t go into effect until the implementation study is done?
Solmonese: Oh, absolutely. That is our position.
HRC has close ties to the White House, so presumably the Obama administration knows this is what we expect following the President’s statement in the State of the Union and the hearing with Gates and Mullen earlier this week.
These are positive developments, because, as Kerry Eleveld reported last night, there’s been “Discord on DADT Repeal.” Both SLDN and HRC’s positions are pretty much what John proposed the other night as a “modest compromise.” I don’t want to oversimplify, but it’s sounds like a win/win. The law to repeal DADT gets passed this year. The Pentagon gets to complete its study on implementation. And, given the way Congress works, by the time the House and Senate get around to passing the Department of Defense authorization, which must include the repeal language, it will be October. Secretary Gates said his review would be done by the end of the year. Rep. Patrick Murphy’s bill to repeal DADT, H.R. 1253, already provides for up to 90-days for implementation of new regulations, which would bring us to January. Again, that’s when Gates said his review would be completed. So, this could all play out perfectly. But, it is going to require an aggressive campaign from our side, it’s going to take strong leadership from the President and it’s going to require our Senate supporters to step up.