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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Update: February 10

February 10, 2010

A few updates on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing an amendment to the budget to withhold funding for discharges based on DADT.  Some oppose this, arguing that it’s unlikely to pass and the first push shouldn’t be one that fails.  I’m kind of torn on this one.  AMERICAblog makes a good case to why this isn’t good, several of which I think make perfect sense.  I get the political obstacles of one loss and the loss of momentum/urgency from a win.  I think the critical take on Sen. Gillibrand is a bit too much, though.  We have a real ally on our side in Sen. Gillibrand, despite her lack of seniority or position on the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Neither of these have stopped her from being invited to participate in the Committee’s hearings, or from taking a strong stand on this issue.  A strong ally in the Senate is not something to scoff at, and saying we should take steps that begin to protect soldiers from being discharged because we think we’ll get action before the midterm elections makes me nervous.

While a defeat would give opponents a talking point in their argument, this would be one way to flesh out where certain Senators stand.  If this could be included in the defense budget before it goes to the full Armed Services Committees, it would seemingly be an entirely different story.  If this were introduced as part of the bill, the burden is on those who oppose this.  In real world (political) terms, this means Republicans would have to fillibuster the defense budget–or as they would put it, they’d have to “vote against supporting the troops.”  That’s a much tough pill to swallow to score points with the minority of Americans who support DADT.  I could be wrong on the political viability of including this in the defense budget, so please correct me if you disagree.  It just seems that with the people drafting the budget supporting the repeal, and the chairmen on the Senate Armed Forces Committee both on the side of repeal, it wouldn’t be nearly as tough to include.

Other highlights:

  • A phenomenal op-ed from the Sunday Washington Post.  It highlights the fact that straight soldiers don’t mind serving with gay soldiers, and by discharging them, soldiers are STILL serving with these men and women through private contractors which also happen to cost the US government at least twice as much.
  • The Palm Center is convening a spring summit with leaders from NATO and the Israeli military, both of which allow openly gay soldiers to serve, to discuss implementation strategies and experiences.
  • Frank Rich points out the lack of vocal opponents from the right. Even Sarah Palin punted this down the road rather than objecting on a “moral” basis (below the jump).
  • And a great supporter and member of Congress who deserves our support–Representative Chellie Pingree.  Again, the faults of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s thinking are that he ignores the fact that there ARE gays and lesbians in the military and he argues that soldiers are dying while he supports discharging soldiers with mission critical skills.  You know what saves the lives of soldiers?  Having troops who can speak Arabic–a service that was provided by gay soldiers like Dan Choi who were discharged:

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