White House, Defense Sec. Gates Support Proposal to Repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; Congress to Vote Thursday
After meeting with LGBT advocates on Monday evening at the White House, (including representatives of HRC, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), and Servicemembers United), and in response to a letter from Congressional leaders pushing for a speedy repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,' White House officials have expressed their support for a legislative compromise that, according to yesterday’s press release from HRC, “would allow Congress to vote to repeal the current DADT law now with implementation to follow upon completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1, 2010.” (Click here for full full text of yesterday’s letter from the Executive Office of the President.)
This morning, the Associated Press reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees with the proposal to add language that would repeal DADT to the National Defense Authorization Act, coming up for a vote in both houses of Congress on Thursday – though he expressed that he “continues to believe that ideally the DOD review should be completed before there is any legislation.” Advocates have been quick to note that it was the National Defense Authorization Act of 1993 that originally enacted 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'
SLDN’s press release yesterday stated:
The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week.
Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, pointed out:
We have been making the case to White House staff for more than a year now that delayed implementation is realistic, politically viable, and the only way to get the defense community on board with repeal, and we are glad to see the community and now the administration and defense leadership finally rally around this option.
Representative Patrick J. Murphy, a leading House advocate for DADT repeal, intends to attach the new language to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is set for a full House vote on Thursday.
His counterpart in the Senate, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman hopes to introduce that same language in the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, also on Thursday.
However, victory for the repeal is not certain in either house, as Boston.com just broke the news that freshman Senator Scott Brown, one of six senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has announced that he will vote against the repeal legislation, pending the results of the Pentagon study.
The New York Times noted:
Some gay rights advocates complained that too many conditions were attached to the repeal. But the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, said the deal “puts us one step closer to removing this stain from the laws of our nation."
GLAAD will continue to monitor the increasing media coverage of this legislation as it nears a vote this week. Updates can be found on GLAADBlog.org.
Anna Wipfler, GLAAD's Transgender Advocacy Fellow, contributed to this report.