Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A politician who is taking the lead on DADT

On Top magazine is reporting that Michigan Senator Carl Levin will include a repeal of DADT in this year's Defense Authorization bill.  In doing this he defies a Pentagon request to wait.  He also defies President's Obama's recent comments that Congress wait until the report is complete, contradicting his State of the Union promise to repeal the policy this year, since the report is not due out until sometime in December.

Writes Carlos Santoscoy:
The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said he's prepared to include repeal language of the policy that bans gay troops from serving openly in the defense budget if he can get the votes for it. Both sides of Congress are expected to act on next year's budget this month.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen wrote to the House Armed Services Committee and urged its chairman, Missouri Representative Ike Skelton, to hold off on repeal until their study is complete.

The men said they “strongly oppose” legislating repeal before the Pentagon has completed its review of the policy due in December.

President Barrack Obama promised he would back repeal of the policy this year during his first State of the Union address in January. The president has since reversed course, saying he supports holding off on repeal until after the study is complete.

Repeal supporters have accused the president of punting repeal until 2013.

“If repeal doesn't happen this calendar year, it is unlikely to pass until after the next presidential election,” Dr. Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a group that supports repeal, said.

But Levin added that the legislation would take effect after the Pentagon has completed its review.

“What we ought to do is repeal it but make the effective date after the report,” Levin told Roll Call.

The strategy is supported by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal.

On Sunday, Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called on the president to take action this year.

In an open letter released Saturday, Dean says he is in agreement with gay rights advocates who are concerned that the Department of Defense could “indefinitely delay the possibility of moving forward with the repeal of DADT until the Pentagon completes a review of the policy.”

“Americans clearly understand that if someone is brave enough to take a bullet for the USA, then they should have the same equal rights guaranteed to every American under the law – whether they are serving in the military, or when they come home,” he added.

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