President Obama is taking a big step closer to achieving his goal of
ending don't ask, don't tell (DADT) within 2010, which he pledged to do
in January. In
February, he sent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen to lobby
Congress and to explore how to repeal
the policy, which forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. The Pentagon even instituted an
on DADT while it planned for a full repeal. Now
the White House, Pentagon, and congressional leaders have reached an
agreement on how to end DADT and the time frame in which to do it.
Here's the plan, how it happened, and what it means.
Timeline The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg
reports that Congress can pass the measure before the November
elections, and the House may vote as soon as this week. "But even if the
measure passes, the policy cannot not change until after Dec. 1, when
the Pentagon completes a review of its readiness to deal with the
changes. Mr. Obama, his defense secretary and the chairman of the joint
chiefs of staff would also be required to certify that repeal would not
- Can It Pass? The Washington Post's Michael Shear appraises the odds:
"While gay rights advocates hailed the move as a 'dramatic
breakthrough,' it remained uncertain whether the deal would secure
enough votes to pass both houses of Congress. Republicans have vowed to
maintain 'don't ask, don't tell,' while conservative Democrats have said
they would oppose a repeal unless military leaders made it clear that
they approved of such a change. Even if the compromise language passes, a
legislative repeal would take effect only after Obama certified that
the change would not harm the nation's military readiness."
Trying This Week Newsweek's Eve Conant writes, "Key votes on the repeal, which would be an
amendment in the Defense Authorization Bill, are expected in both the
House and Senate later this week."
- Decisive Victory for
DADT Opponents Mother Jones' Kevin Drum calls this "basically a
complete win the DADT repeal forces, since implementation always would
have taken some time no matter when repeal was passed. Pelosi and Reid
already support repeal, and now, with Obama's active support, the
chances of getting it through Congress are excellent."
Joe Lieberman Ffor This Liberal blogger Spencer Ackerman can hardly believe it. "Today the world
is beginning to look more just, and Joe Lieberman earned
himself a great deal of the responsibility for that. Lieberman and Rep.
Patrick Murphy kept holding the Obama administration’s feet to the fire
on repealing DADT," he writes. "Yes: this means that we have lived to
see the day when Joe Lieberman
has pushed the White House to the left. Uncork that. Let it breathe.
Then guzzle stiffly."
- Will Bolster ROTC's Ivy League Presence The Atlantic's James Fallows adds, "It should
also have another effect, in ending the prolonged absence of ROTC
programs from a number of the nation's elite universities," which has
been "sustained" since Vietnam to protest DADT. "This separation is, in
my view, bad for the military, bad for the universities, and bad for the
country. ... Any measure that more closely knits the military to its
society is a plus, and ROTC has historically been an important part of
forming that bond. It's time to bring it back."
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