Well, maybe the White House is finally taking the first steps toward repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. According to the Advocate,
Shortly after President Barack Obama pledged Saturday to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Administration’s highest-ranking LGBT official said the White House is speaking with certain senators about strategies for repealing the policy — specifically Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill — we are in direct discussions with Senator Lieberman,” John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, told The Advocate.
A spokesman for Senator Lieberman confirmed that the senator had been speaking to the White House about the bill. “Senator Lieberman has had discussions with representatives of the Administration and others on the best way to reverse this policy, which he has opposed since it was first proposed in 1993,” said Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s press secretary.
Smart move to work with Lieberman. Given the Connecticut Senator’s long-time support for a robust military, it’s makes a lot of sense to have him lead the effort to repeal this counterproductive measure. More perhaps than any other member of the Democratic caucus, Lieberman enjoys the respect of the military and Republicans. He can better frame repeal not as a gay rights’ issue but as a military issue, that the ban reduces the pool of recruits from which our armed services can draw.
That the Administration is in talk with Lieberman suggests a real commitment to repealing the ban. It would be better if they had a timetable, to prompt more expeditious action. With a solid majority even of conservatives favoring repeal, the time to act is now.
In addition to Lieberman, I suggest the Administration reach out to others who like the Senator, advocates of repeal who enjoy respect in more conservative and pro-military circles. Their input may help the President frame a case which avoids the fate which greeted the last Democratic President’s attempt to allow gay people to serve openly in our armed forces. To that end, they may find themselves talking to a number of individual like talk show host Mike Gallagher, who are otherwise at odds with the Administration.
The more conservatives speaking out in favor of repeal, the more quickly we will see it done. And the Administration is reaching out to an erstwhile opponent. Lieberman endorsed the President’s rival in last fall’s campaign.
It is a good sign that they are talking to Senator Lieberman, a step, albeit a small one in the right direction.