Equality Groups Defend DADT Repeal as Lawmakers Seek to Slow Progress
Equality organizations are standing up for the repeal of the anti-gay law that requires gay and lesbian patriots to lie in order to serve their country in uniform.
Among other attempts to slow or derail the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, has proposed changing the terms under which the 1993 law would be set aside. Currently, DADT is set to be retired when the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that the military is ready to accept openly gay and lesbian troops.
Hunter says that the chiefs of the four military branches should also certify that the time is right, the Associated Press reported on May 11. The congressman seeks to amend the certification process by attaching an amendment to a military spending bill.
"The four military service chiefs are far more closely connected to the day-to-day realities facing each respective service branch than those who are currently required to sign off on the repeal--including the President," Hunter, who is a military veteran and has seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan, stated at his website, according to a May 10 article posted at LezGetReal.
"The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs should all take part in the certification process, but excluding the service chiefs is a mistake," added the text at Hunter’s site. "They may agree to move forward with the repeal or they may have other recommendations for implementation and timing. Either way, their unvarnished perspective is critical to this process--especially as it relates to preserving the military’s high rate of effectiveness."
The congressman went on to claim that allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve without the distraction of being required to lie constantly about their core identities would do nothing to enhance military readiness.
"The repeal of DADT won’t make our troops any safer or help achieve victory any faster," Hunter wrote. "Even so, any movement toward implementation must be efficient and show respect for the culture and tradition unique to each service branch and the military as a whole."
The director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Aubrey Sarvis--himself an Army veteran--flatly denied Hunter’s assertions.
"The expected Duncan Hunter amendment is designed to slow down repeal," Sarvis said, adding that the amendment "serves no constructive purpose, as the service chiefs themselves recently testified they are already very much a part of the certification process with Chairman Mullen and Secretary Gates and see no need for the amendment Mr. Hunter is offering."
That action, which has the support of several other Republican lawmakers, has prompted conservative GLBT group the Log Cabin Republicans to urge the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to take action by allowing gay troops to serve openly. The Log Cabin Republicans sued the federal government successfully last year over the measure. A federal judge found DADT to be unconstitutional, but the case is under appeal. The Ninth Circuit Court put a hold on that lower court’s order to suspend DADT.
The Log Cabin Republicans suggested in a filing with the court that the hold should be revoked or the case accelerated in the face of legislative attack, the AP reported on May 10.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network also took action, sending a letter co-signed by 85 organizations to members of the House of Representatives "urging members to oppose any and all harmful and unnecessary amendments that have been offered to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012, put forth by repeal opponents seeking to delay and derail "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT) repeal implementation," a May 11 SLDN news release said.
"It would be extraordinary for a new Congress to immediately overturn the military personnel policy decisions of the preceding Congress," the letter to House members stated. "We would interpret such a vote as an endorsement of discrimination against some of our service members who risk their lives to ably defend our nation and its Constitution. Such a vote would also evince enormous disrespect for the thoughtful processes used by our most senior military leaders to implement a congressionally authorized policy change.
"Last year, more than 310 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, gave the U.S. military its marching orders," the letter added. "As we knew it would, the military has followed these orders and has been marching smartly toward repeal. We urge members to stand strong for prompt certification along with a smooth transition toward open service."