President Obama, the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, clearing the way for Congress to take up the measure as soon as this week.
It was not clear whether the deal had secured the votes necessary to pass the House and Senate, but the agreement removed the Pentagon’s objections to having Congress vote quickly on repealing the contentious 17-year-old policy, which bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the armed services.
House Democratic leaders were meeting Monday night and considering taking up the measure as soon as Thursday. But even if the measure passes, the policy cannot not change until after Dec. 1, when the Pentagon completes a review of its readiness to deal with the changes. Mr. Obama, his defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would also be required to certify that repeal would not harm readiness.
The measure could enable gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time, ending a policy that Mr. Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, all say they oppose.
Representative Patrick J. Murphy, Democrat of Pennsylvania and a leading advocate in the House for repeal, is hoping to attach the proposal to a defense authorization bill that will come up for a vote on Thursday.
In the Senate, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, intends to introduce the language on Thursday in the Armed Services Committee. In a letter to Mr. Obama on Monday, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Lieberman and Senator Carl M. Levin, the Armed Services Committee chairman, announced support for the proposal and asked the White House for its “official views.”
Mark Kleiman: Obama has been willing to accept the hostility of the advocacy groups in order to get the thing done right. More likely than not in an unjust world, that hostility will continue even after the deed is done. Obama has done some unheroic stuff, but in my book this makes him a hero. Real moral courage isn’t standing up to your enemies; it’s standing up to your friends.
Here's a report on Obama standing up to teh gay:
At a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) yesterday in San Francisco, President Obama was heckled by an audience member who called on him to "move faster on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
Amid boos and chants of "yes we can," Obama addressed the man who heckled him: "We are working with Congress as we speak to roll back 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
Obama added: "Come on, man, I'm dealing with Congress here. It takes a little bit of time."
With the news that congressional Dems, the White House and the DOD have reached an agreement that should bring DADT to an end this year, it's worth remembering how deeply uncontroversial a decision this has become. According to the latest CNN poll, almost 80% of Americans now support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the US Armed Forces.
And it's not even a new number. Public support has been at similar levels for the last few years. I confess that as someone who remembers the early 90s battle over this question, those numbers are about as gratifying as they are surprising to me. But there it is.
So, there we have it. The Obama Administration "gets it done" with 80% popular support.