Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The future of DADT

As you no doubt already know, there is news of a compromise measure on DADT.  The bill calls for DADT to be repealed but not until December, when the Defense Department's study on gays in the military is finished.  President Obama would then sign this new policy into law.  But there would be more studies, apparently, to see how LGBT people are mixing with the other soldiers.  In other words, the policy would be repealed, but then would have to be "seconded" some time in the future.  It's strange: here we have another compromise (think health care policy) yet as far as I know, the compromise hasn't produced one Republican vote that wouldn't have been there before. 

Most LGBT groups are praising the compromise as a major step forward in civil rights for LGBT people.  Some don't like the compromise; they are urging an end to all these studies and an immediate repeal.  They don't like the idea of a promise of repeal contingent upon some future agreement.

The compromise comes at the same time a CNN poll found that 78% of the public believes that LGBT people should serve openly.  78%!!  Is there any other issue that has such solid agreement?

What we don't yet know is whether or not the bill has enough votes to even get out of committee. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (right) announced yesterday that he does not support repeal at this time and will vote to continue with the status quo.  I think this will hurt Scott Brown in the long run.  The Tea Baggers are already furious with him and have vowed to defeat him in 2012.  (Talk about a short marriage.  They must have thrown Minute Rice at the wedding.)  Voting against repeal doesn't endear him again to the Tea Baggers yet it also puts him at odds with the vast majority of Massachusetts voters.

Still, there's optimism about repeal.  "It's tight, but I believe we'll get there," says Aubrey Sarvis, according to NPR.  Sarvis is an Army veteran who heads the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents military members affected by the controversial "don''t ask, don't tell" policy.

Some Democrats, such as Ben Nelson and Jim Webb, are against repeal, while Senators Bayh and Byrd have yet to announce their intentions.  Bayh has received criticism recently for an ill-conceived joke about AIDS in a speech.  Susan Collins (left), Republican from Maine, has indicated that she will vote to repeal DADT now.  She probably would have voted with us without the compromise.  The two senators from Maine have shown more independence from the Republican Party than any other legislators.

It could go either way.  In the meantime, it sure would be nice to see President Obama use his bully pulpit to gather support for change.

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