Crucial DADT Vote Approaches; Mainstream Editorial and Opinion Pages Weigh In
The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to vote this week on an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would repeal the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said in February that repeal "comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
In an article published today, The New York Times editorial board calls this a “prime opportunity” to repeal the “repressive” policy.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a culture war scar on military honor that finds the nation alone among the major Western allies in denying qualified gay men and lesbians the chance to defend their country,” wrote The Times. The editorial board went on to urge repeal and “end a shameful injustice.”
Similarly, The Washington Post today published an Op-Ed by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John M. Shalikashvili that encouraged Congress to “act now” on the policy:
"Indeed, acting now to remove the constraints imposed by that law [DADT] is the most faithful response that Congress can offer to the working group's efforts to engage service members and their families, to fully assess the impact of ending the policy, and to develop comprehensive recommendations for how to make the change."
In response to critics who say that Congress should wait until the Pentagon finish its year-long study of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Shalikashvili points out that Congress can repeal the law now while simultaneously allowing the Pentagon to implement the change as it sees fit:
"...the 'repeal only' option would leave to the Pentagon any questions about the possibility, content and timing of policy changes, while eliminating the law that straitjackets military leaders' ability to craft the most sensible policy… Repeal-only, without language instructing the Pentagon on what to do, would not impose change on the military. Rather, it would allow the Defense Department to study and implement the change as the military deems fit, while fully respecting the review that is underway."
Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Congressional leaders, LGBT rights advocates and Pentagon officials met at the White House today to discuss “an emerging deal on repealing the military's ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ ban on gays in the military.” Details of that meeting have yet to be disclosed.
GLAAD will continue to follow Don’t Ask Don’t Tell coverage as it gains media traction this week. Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org