dispatch: iraq

Just-A-Joe: The DADT War Isn’t Over

Thursday saw the successful votes approving the inclusion of both Congressman Murphy and Senator Lieberman’s amendments to the House and Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). With this came the celebration of many who have been working tirelessly to see this through. At the same moment in the middle of Baghdad, I was celebrating as well. It was not even a month ago I was sitting in Senator Claire McCaskill’s office in Washington discussing this option with her legislative assistant. Due to the letter Secretary Gates had submitted to Representative Skelton voicing his opposition to any legislative action being taken prior to the Pentagon review, even our supporters were weary of including any repeal language in the NDAA. And so the infamous compromise was born.

In Senator Lieberman’s version there are three provisions that must be met prior to a repeal implementation. Number one is that President Obama sends a “certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense. and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” stating that the three have a) “considered the recommendations contained… and the proposed plan of action.” In addition, b) certifying that DOD has “prepared the necessary policies and regulations.” The final item being c) that the study shows that implementation of repeal will not harm “military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”

I personally would love it if the President would sign an Executive Order repealing DADT and the review by the Pentagon today. It would probably save my job, as DADT repeal may come too late for my own case. Even after the consideration of becoming one of the last victims of this policy, I have come to accept this. These two amendments are honestly the most logical option to satisfy the involved leaders and the LGBT community

Another benefit of the delayed implementation plan is the respect that the result will see. By giving the final sign off to the leaders in the defense community, we are able to obtain a broader support group. Alex Nicholson wrote in an opinion piece for CNN.com, that gaining the support of the Pentagon in this amendment was “a critical requirement for any DADT repeal legislation.”

Senator Byrd, who vehemently opposed the ability for gay and lesbian soldiers to serve at all in 1993, ended up voting in favor of the repeal plan this time around. He did so under the condition that the amendment was further revised to include a 60-day review period for Congress to evaluate the reports following the Pentagons reviews completion, which is due December 1st. This further extends our time until we see full repeal of the law until around January 30, 2011. Although this seems bad at first glance, I was happy to see the addition. By doing so, we have a set date as to when we should see a full plan for implementing repeal of the policy manifest.

I support the individuals whom are opposed to this measure, and who are calling for full repeal now, and I would be there beside them were I not confined to the dessert. I believe that they need to continue to do so, and continue to keep the pressure on our nations leaders. I believe also that simultaneously, while keeping the strong direct action methods in place, we can concurrently keep the momentum to pass the National Defense Authorization Act as it stands presently.

Therefore I would like to remind all that though this was a successful step forward, this is not over. In fact, this has taken our focus from the six swing votes in the Armed Services Committee of the House and Senate. Our focus is much wider now, as we much reach out to all members of both the Senate, and the House. We must fight harder than we have ever before. We are already facing threats of filibustering. As we grow ever closer to the moment when I can finally reveal who I am instead of using this pen-name, our opposition is growing momentum as well. This fight has only begun and as we saw today is going to get uglier than we are used to.

Finally, thank you for your support throughout this movement to repeal. The relationships I have built have benefited me greatly. As an active duty service member it has been so uplifting to see the outpour of civilian support, and I still need you. My partner needs you. And the tens of thousands of gay and lesbian troops still serving alongside of me in these two war zones need you. We are not all able to voice out our thoughts and without the broad base that is you, we would not be where we are. Continue this trend and soon we will abolish the antiquated discriminatory policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”