You may recall that on April 30, 2010, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent a “strongly worded” letter to Capitol Hill making it clear that he did not want legislative action on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year. That confirmed what SLDN had been hearing via “multiple reports” from Capitol Hill: Obama administration officials had been urging Congress not to vote on DADT this year.
It was Obama who repeatedly promised to end DADT — and he reaffirmed that commitment in his State of the Union. But, Obama has let Gates set the agenda on DADT:
Mr. Obama has relied on Mr. Gates as his ambassador to the military and deferred to him repeatedly. When Mr. Gates wanted to force out Gen. David D. McKiernan in May 2009 as commander in Afghanistan in favor of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Mr. Obama signed off. Likewise, cognizant of Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort to end the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers, Mr. Obama let Mr. Gates set a slow pace in overturning the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, even though it has disappointed gay rights advocates.
Yes, that “slow pace” it has indeed disappointed gay rights advocates. We’re going to be even more disappointed — actually quite angry — if the compromise DADT repeal language isn’t signed into law this year. The looming problem is that the “slow pace” set by Gates may take us into the next Congress. And, if Democrats lose control of the House, there will be no repeal.
Let’s hope Jim Messina, who (along with CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg) concocted the DADT repeal compromise, has a strategy to make sure the Defense Authorization bill, which contains the DADT repeal language, is signed by the President this year. The GOPers are going to do their part to prevent that from happening.