There are bloggers running around freaking out about the end of the world! Err, I mean, end of repeal efforts against Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Scott Wooledge over at Pam's House Blend is running wild with it, as is a diary deriding the President by calling Defense Secretary Gates "President Gates" on the "recommended" diaries list on Daily Kos. Both these people quote the same parts from the same article on The Advocate written by Kerry Eleveld, titled DADT: Signs of Hope, Doom.
This is the part of the report that has these bloggers particularly peeved (the "doom" part, not the "hope" part).
Over the weekend, observers of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" debate began cautiously acknowledging that an effort is in the works to potentially move a stripped down version of the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act that would exclude repeal.That's right. There is outrage, once again, based on one anonymous source. But those who are outraged don't want to read the rest of the article. They wax poetic about the credibility of the reporter, Kerry Eleveld, but don't seem to trust much what she had to say in the rest of the report. Not only do the crowd of the rage ignore the fact that the same article reports Secretary Gates pushing for a repeal of DADT in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, but more importantly, they cherrypick the unnamed source and completely ignore the named sources. For example, we find this in the report:
A person close to the process said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is looking into a deal with Sec. Gates that would cut ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ out of the Defense bill in order to smooth its way to passage.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called Gates’s remarks “extraordinary” but noted the mixed blessing of latest developments in a statement to reporters. [...]So, Chairman Levin, if Aubrey Davis is to be believed is still pursuing a path that could end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It would serve some bloggers well to actually read in full the articles that they're quoting. In addition to that, it wouldn't hurt to get some context on the story. The President and Harry Reid have signaled - after the elections - that they will push for a repeal in the lame duck session. President Obama even said so in his post-election press conference. There are also reports that the service chiefs may not be as aggressive in their opposition to repeal as they were in May given the impending release of the Pentagon review and the litigation over DADT.
Sarvis was less absolutist about Levin’s course of action, explaining that the senator was looking into three scenarios in order get some version of the Defense bill passed: moving the original bill with full debate on amendments; seeing if some sort of bipartisan consensus could be reached on a limited number of amendments; or if all else fails, seeing if some sort of “mini bill” could be negotiated.
“In that scenario my fear is that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ provision could be stripped out,” he told The Advocate, calling it a matter of last resort. “Levin doesn’t want to be the first committee chairman (in half a century) not to see an NDAA pass.”
But I suppose looking at all the facts and context does not allow for outrage-first posts.
Did a repeal just become more difficult following the elections on Tuesday? You bet it did (and as I pointed out, these reactionaries deserve a good part of the blame for it themselves). But it's not hopeless. It's not dead. Not yet. And you have the opportunity to do something about it. Congress comes back for the lame duck session on November 15. Only the Senate needs to pass a repeal as part of their Defense Authorization bill, as the House already has. Call your Senators - if you are calling before November 15, call their state offices; after November 15, call their DC offices. Senate.gov has contact info. And it doesn't really matter if your Senator is retiring, was defeated, etc. They can still vote in the lame duck session, and they should vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
A report on the implementation of such a repeal is due from the Defense Department on December and a vote is likely to gain steam around that time. The President and Secretary Gates are on board with the repeal, and we - only we - can make sure that our senators vote that way.
If you believe the President's commitment to gay Americans is in question, let me assure you that it is not. He doesn't just support a repeal of DADT. As President, he has taken concrete steps - both legislative and administrative - to advance the rights of LGBT Americans. The People's View front-page writer "TiMT" provided a list of those efforts and accomplishments last month.
There is of course still a chance that it will be derailed given the more emboldened Republican caucus in the Senate. It would be a sad and truly outrageous day if the Senate passes its defense authorization bill without a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But don't fool yourselves. If it happened, it will have been a failure of the Senate and of the Senate alone, and more specifically of Senate Republicans. And if it happens, the efforts to repeal DADT is still not at an end. It will then be time for the President to issue an executive order halting enforcement of DADT under his powers as Commander in Chief (he can only do so while there are reserve troops on active duty). Vice President Biden has said that it wasn't done to give Congress room to work (so a repeal is permanent), and if Congress won't, the President should act.
There is also the legal challenge to DADT. It has already been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, and the Log Cabin Republicans (the plaintiffs in the case) have gone to the Supreme Court to challenge an Appeals Court stay of that ruling. One way or another, DADT's days are numbered.