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Memo to Senate: Pay Heed to Defense Secretary

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:54 pm - November 7, 2010.
Filed under: Congress (111th),DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell)

If Democrats accomplish one thing in the lame-duck session of Congress, it should be a repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).   Indeed, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, initially appointed to the post by then-President George W. Bush in 2006, said as much:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Congress should act quickly, before new members take their seats, to repeal the military’s ban on gays serving openly in the military.

He, however, did not sound optimistic that the current Congress would use a brief postelection session to get rid of the law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“I would like to see the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates said Saturday, as he traveled to defense and diplomatic meetings in Australia.

One of the reasons there’s no chance of a Republican Congress repealing the ban is that the various gay groups in Washington have spent little time reaching out to the incoming House majority.   And Republicans have nothing to gain politically by voting for the ban.  (Perhaps that may change now that they realize gay voters aren’t beholden to the Democrats.)

Now, to be sure, with the proper efforts, these groups could change Republicans minds, but that takes time.  GOProud which could be instrumental in this process is only now getting off the ground.  So, it’s up to Senate Democrats to act swiftly on repeal.  No more procedural shenanigans, Mr. Reid, just a simple up or down vote on repeal.

If outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi could get it through the House, the reelected Majority Leader should be able to get it through the Senate.



  1. I am much less concerned with DADT than I am with the need to recapitalize our antiquated fleet of Reagan-Era fighters, Eisenhower-Era bombers, and our Kennedy-Era tanker aircraft as well as our inadequate and underfunded fleet of C-17 transport. We should also be developing specialized aircraft, vehicles, and weapons for counter-insurgency and special operations.

    We should really be asking, “How do we make our military force the best in the world.” Not, “How can we make the military conform to our social ideals?”

    Comment by V the K — November 7, 2010 @ 3:06 pm - November 7, 2010

  2. I think those of us that support a repeal of DADT can kiss any chance of that goodbye if we’re looking for it from outgoing Dems. They have even less to gain from repeal than do incoming Republicans and if they were to repeal it they would be taking off the table, something that has would be a great carrot for the remaining dems to dangle in front of the gay community during the run up to the 2012 elections. It’s always seemed to me that most Democrats don’t care that much about gay rights, unless they are looking for money and votes and then, they only care until they get re-elected. Once they are back in office they pack up their “I care about the gay community” act and get back to ignoring them all as usual.

    So, why would they bother themselves to do anything decent for the LGBT community now, when it will not really get them anything? I’m just hopeful that once the miliary studies come back in as of December, the recommendartions will be for repeal and the congress will act based on that. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. And, if Republicans were smart they would support repeal since a marjority of the American people (even a majority of conservatives) support repealing the ban.

    Comment by Kristie — November 7, 2010 @ 3:43 pm - November 7, 2010

  3. I doubt DADT is going to be addressed in the outgoing lame duck 111th Congress; it will always be a political football to use to raise money for the Democrats from gullible Leftist gays.

    The 112th Congress won’t address the issue at all.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — November 7, 2010 @ 4:07 pm - November 7, 2010

  4. Whats most unfortunate, is that any legislation that is written to directly address any issue will be fouled with illegal-amnesty amendments……pumpkin subsidies for Guatemalans…..left-handed scissors for dyslexic felons…….bee insurance…..and all the things that have nothing to do with the original bill.

    I personally want a pledge from our new government to make every bill as direct, and as small, as it can be made. Legislators are there to solve problems, not to fill the pockets of their constituents.

    Let’s see how everyone votes on every separate issue before we pass judgment.



    What should be done first is to move into positions that no one will object to. Establish a beachhead. Eliminate DADT for all non-combat military roles. (There can be no ‘foxhole argument’ in this scenario.)

    Comment by gastorgrab — November 7, 2010 @ 4:18 pm - November 7, 2010

  5. The new Marine Corps general is already lobbying against repeal, although his boss Secretary Gates has indicated support for repeal, and the so-called canvas of military members and families has shown general support. Unfortunately, I agree both Republican and Dem congressmen will avoid the issue at all costs and will not act. I see no reason to believe repeal will impair the military. UK and Israeli armed forces, as well as others, have shown no decline in their readiness and unit cohesiveness.

    Comment by man — November 7, 2010 @ 4:24 pm - November 7, 2010

  6. From reports I read, gays voted 30% Republican. I think these things take time and acceptance. Being gay or not being gay should not be a political issue.

    Comment by Marinaman — November 7, 2010 @ 5:04 pm - November 7, 2010

  7. Sorry, but the US economy is ready to collapse, we’re looking at the potential of food prices skyrocketing to the point they’re not affordable. Obama is using our tax dollars to increase the outsourcing of jobs, and Bernanke & the fed’s game of of printing 600 billion for quantitative easing is going to finish us, if we don’t devote a serious effort to stopping him. We need to impeach Bernanke, we need to address lots of serious problems, not play single issue roulette.

    Perhaps Grover Norquist thinks it’s a good idea to ignore everything but DADT, but then again, Grover Norquist is part of the reason why our economy is in the toilet, and our sovereignty and security are undermined.

    You can’t call yourself a patriot, if you’re not willing to open up your eyes to the truly serious problems we’re facing, and in all candor, if you can’t pull your head out of your backside at this time, then leave it there and stfu. BTW, I think before having a hissy fit in response, you need to go down and sign up to be shipped off to the front lines in Afghanistan, and then talk about service. If our economy tanks, how the hell are we going to get our troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq or any place else. Think before going even one bit more squimmy on this or any other subject.

    Comment by jenny — November 7, 2010 @ 5:24 pm - November 7, 2010

  8. Doubtful they will. Democrats didnt have a spine when they held the majority. Cant seem them growing one now that they have been kicked to the curb.

    Comment by carmachu — November 7, 2010 @ 5:35 pm - November 7, 2010

  9. The Secretary of Defense is correct. But the argument “being gay should not be a political issue” will only be true when gays are treated the same as any citiizen.

    Comment by writerJerome — November 7, 2010 @ 6:02 pm - November 7, 2010

  10. Jerome, when did gays have separate bathrooms, restaurants, & stores? We don’t & never have. We are treated equally.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — November 7, 2010 @ 6:21 pm - November 7, 2010

  11. The continued push for the repeal of DADT by the authors of this blog just proves my oft-stated point: you are social liberals working to turn the conservative movement and the Republican Party into vehicles for the expansion of social liberalism. Why else do you keep on demanding the repeal of DADT–the socially liberal position–while simultaneously telling Republicans/conservatives to be silent on social issues?

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 7, 2010 @ 7:12 pm - November 7, 2010

  12. What you don’t seem to be willing to admit is that the Grand Obstructionist Party takes its marching orders from the religious right on gay issues. There is no reaching out to the Party of No.

    Comment by Auntie Dogma — November 7, 2010 @ 7:44 pm - November 7, 2010

  13. I think you’re 100% correct Seane-Anna

    Comment by jenny — November 7, 2010 @ 8:14 pm - November 7, 2010

  14. Seane-Anna – I won’t rehash an argument about whether DADT repeal is a socially liberal position but from a purely fiscal standpoint, to me opposition to DADT is conservative. As a taxpayer funding the war against terrorism, it is offensive seeing some of those tax dollars going to the express purpose of discharging key personnel who are keeping the citizens safe. This is funding that should be going to better equip our troops in the field, acquire more reliable intelligence and provide more training on Arab linguistics. Instead, troops who we invested in (especially many valuable Arab linguists) are being dumped and we have to pay to retrain others and in some cases support induction of some recruits with criminal records. Plus, the shaken cohesiveness within units that have no say in retaining soldiers they’ve put all their trust and faith in also adds to the lack of overall security to the US.

    If I seem to disregard social issues, many social conservatives are more than willing to jettison core fiscally conservative stances such as opposition to big government and nanny states so a specific religious belief system can be forwarded and endorsed by government. Again, the flip side of the Democrats big government/nanny state coin.

    Comment by PopArt — November 7, 2010 @ 8:16 pm - November 7, 2010

  15. 1. It’s my understanding that a majority of conservatives support repeal if the military says it will work.

    2. I suspect a majority of Republicans in congress share that view.

    3. The military is studying the issue now, and will issue their report, I believe, early next year, but not sure about the date at all.

    4. If the military says it will be fine, I suspect Republicans will be happy to pass repeal.


    We should really be asking, “How do we make our military force the best in the world.” Not, “How can we make the military conform to our social ideals?”

    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    Can people please get their priorities straightened out? Congress has no business repealing DADT until that report comes back.

    Comment by American Elephant — November 7, 2010 @ 9:39 pm - November 7, 2010

  16. …especially while our troops are currently engaged in two wars. Talk about screwed up priorities!

    Comment by American Elephant — November 7, 2010 @ 10:03 pm - November 7, 2010

  17. Fox News channel has a history of conservatism and future of conservatism on air right now. Most of you might enjoy it.

    Comment by writerJerome — November 7, 2010 @ 10:45 pm - November 7, 2010

  18. I doubt the wisdom of repealing DADT via the Lame Duck session. As a conservative Christian sympathetic with the idea of allowing openly gay citizens to serve in the military, I think it important to point out that the Congress which will meet in the Lame Duck session has been decisively rejected by the American people. Other than purely care-taker actions to carry things through until the end of January, this Congress lacks any legitimacy – and legitimacy is necessary for government acts to be accepted by the people.

    I do believe DADT can be pushed through the Republican House. Probably not immediately, but a careful and measure campaign of education (and keeping a lid on the more extreme leftist elements of the gay rights movement), can go a long way – especially if we get a series of current and former openly gay service members (and especially any who have been decorated for bravery in combat) to explain that their desire is not to have a gay military, but to have the patriots privilege of making America the strongest nation in the world.

    Comment by Mark Noonan — November 7, 2010 @ 10:47 pm - November 7, 2010

  19. The Fox News Channel special showed that conservatives since Goldwater have wished to undo the Democratic and establishment Republican agendas to before the New Deal.
    “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no voice” was the most memorable line in Goldwater’s speech.
    Coming soon on Fox, a special on Reagan.

    Comment by writerJerome — November 7, 2010 @ 11:00 pm - November 7, 2010

  20. and keeping a lid on the more extreme leftist elements of the gay rights movement

    But that is why DADT is an issue.

    Leftists hate two things more than anything else — the military and sexual responsibility.

    No surprise that they are using gays and lesbians as their cats’ paws in attacks on both.

    DADT opponents like Autumn Sandeen and ChoiBoi need to be asked point blank why they and their leftist supporters call our soldiers “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” and why they support and give money to the terrorists who set out to kill them.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 8, 2010 @ 12:04 am - November 8, 2010

  21. I don’t know if there is a shred of truth to this, but it’s something I saw on Twitter:

    Democrats reportedly looking at dropping DADT provision to get Defense bill passed

    If it IS true then the gay left’s TIRED defense of the Democrats that they have been peddling for almost 20 years now (“…the Democrats don’t have a perfect record on gay rights but they will always be better than those evil Republicans who would like to round us up and exterminate us…blah blah blah…”) is going to sound even more like a punchline in search of a laugh track.

    Comment by Sean A — November 8, 2010 @ 12:09 am - November 8, 2010

  22. I do wish we could soon repeal the DADT. It is taking up too much of our time and energy. We didn’t have it during WW2 and we won the war. and we don’t need it now.

    Comment by John W — November 8, 2010 @ 1:26 am - November 8, 2010

  23. Here’s more on the rumored…what, 10th? 11th? 20th annual? fuck-over moment that the gays are going to get from the Democrats that they have been voting for and contributing $$$$ to for decades:

    I’m sorry, but if this pans out and the gay lefties end up duped again by the Democrats in such an EPIC fashion (i.e., immediately after the expiration of a significant period where they held invulnerable power over all three branches of the Federal Government) then I am really going to enjoy watching yet another round of the gays making all kinds of noise about moving to Canada or Europe, never voting for another Democrat again until they [insert ultimatum that will NEVER be enforced here], holding the Democrats’ “feet to the fire,” forming a new third party that “truly believes in progressive ideas” (lol–let me guess, all of the member politicians of this new, progressive third party will be Dems that just got the boot less than a week ago, i.e. Grayson! ha ha!), and blah blah blah…

    Then, as the 2012 election approaches, we can point, laugh, eat popcorn, and viciously ridicule the gay lefties as they crumble once again and pledge their $$$$ and unshakable support for every one of the Democratic Party’s candidates (“…the Democrats don’t have a perfect record on gay rights, but they will ALWAYS be a better choice than any Republican since the GOP just wants to round us up and exterminate us!…”) zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..

    Well, if they had the ability to learn ANYTHING from the past and change course accordingly, they wouldn’t be Democrats in the first place, now would they?

    Comment by Sean A — November 8, 2010 @ 1:49 am - November 8, 2010

  24. It doesn’t matter if the current Pelosi lame-duck House passes the legislation, unless the Reid-lead lame-duck Senate also passes the same bill it’ll die at the end of the Congressional Session and have to be restarted by BOTH the new House and Senate.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — November 8, 2010 @ 11:47 am - November 8, 2010

  25. I really don’t understand the need for “study” or a “commission” to determine if DADT should be repealed.

    Unless I am completely mis-remembering things, the ban on gays in the military was a DoD policy, meaning that the President (Clinton) could have ended the ban with an Executive Order.

    So, wouldn’t the best thing here be a complete repeal (and ONLY a repeal), putting the decision back in the hands of the military?

    I would think the GOP could successfully argue for a repeal on a separation of powers basis, even to the more religious base.

    I do agree that the outgoing Dems will not repeal DADT, if for no other reason that they will want to use it in 2012 to say “give us power back and we will repeal DADT.”

    I think it would be a brilliant political move for the GOP to repeal DADT as soon as possible next year.

    Comment by john — November 8, 2010 @ 2:28 pm - November 8, 2010

  26. I agree with John and in fact we’ve already had plenty of studies over the last several years that should have been more than enough to put the issue to rest. The only reason for all the posturing in advance of the current study is for each political party to work it to their advantage…. and in the case of the Democrats and to a lesser extent the Republicans the most politically advantageous thing to do is to drag it all out and justify yet more studies through 2022. Thus while Reid and Obama think all of us are fooled into thinking they are gung-ho to end DADT, their maneuvering with both the courts and the Senate vote show at best they don’t give a Snooki-behind about our military and at worst are hostile to a cohesiveness, well-functioning set of armed services. Many Republicans such as McCain are just as guilty of wanting to employ stalling tactics.

    I mean what is the next study (funded by taxpayers) going to entail… observing how spotted owls and dragonflies react to the notion of gays in the military????

    Comment by PopArt — November 8, 2010 @ 5:02 pm - November 8, 2010

  27. In his article about Illinois screwing over their new Senator Allahpundit makes a pretty good argument how, polticially, the Republicans could make a good argument about repealling DADT.

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 9, 2010 @ 7:20 am - November 9, 2010

  28. Um, North Dallas Thirty, I spent 20-years in the military, am a Persian Gulf War veteran, and have disabilities that are service-connected. My VA Disability Rating is 100%.

    In other words, I love my country; I sacrificed for my country; I don’t hate my country’s military.

    Frankly, I don’t understand your question — it seems to me to be framed rather obtusely. I’d be happy to answer your question if I could figure out what your question actually is.

    Howevery, if the question is about how others behave on the political left — and I think your question had something to do with how others behave on the left — well, I don’t speak for others on the political left. I make every effort to speak just for me as much as possible.

    Personally, I’m motivated by my desire for freedom, equality under the law, and justice for the entirety of the LGBT community.

    So, when I last had the opportunity to vote for Mayor here in San Diego, I voted for our Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders. He’s been a voice for LGBT civil rights — and it doesn’t hurt that he’s also been a voice for fiscal responsibility.

    Comment by Autumn Sandeen — November 9, 2010 @ 2:26 pm - November 9, 2010

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