White House opposes stripping out DADT repeal

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued a statement Monday night saying, “The White House opposes any effort to strip ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ from the National Defense Authorization Act.”

The news comes on the heels of an unsourced report in the Wall Street Journal Monday saying that Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Carl Levin were “in talks” about “stripping the proposed [DADT] repeal and other controversial provisions” from the annual defense authorization bill.

The Washington Post also ran a story Monday saying Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a supporter of DADT repeal, and McCain, who has been leading the filibuster against it, “are exploring ways to introduce a revised version of the bill that could be debated and approved in two to three days, according to several sources familiar with the matter.” The Post did not identify its sources either.

Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a statement Sunday saying, “Any talk about a watered down defense bill, whereby the ‘Don’t Ask’ revisions would be stripped out, is unacceptable and offensive to the gay and lesbian service members who risk their lives every day.”

There have been confusing news reports and conflicting comments within the administration about what it considers the likelihood of passing DADT repeal language in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates is encouraging Congress to act before year’s end to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military. It’s a position shared by his boss, the president.”

But Gates did not encourage Congress to act on the repeal.

At a press “availability” in Australia Sunday a reporter asked Gates,  “Do you see any prospect for passage of START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] and repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the lame duck?”

“I hope that the …Senate will ratify a new START,” said Gates. “I think it’s in our interest. Both the chairman and I have testified why we think it’s in our security interest to ratify the treaty.”

But his words regarding DADT were more guarded.

“I would like to see the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are and we’ll just have to see.”

Neither START nor DADT repeal have 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign on Monday launched a grassroots campaign to put pressure on senators from eight key states to support breaking the filibuster on DADT. The states are Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

It was one senator from Maine –Susan Collins, a Republican—and two from Arkansas—Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor—who voted to support the Republican-led filibuster in September, giving Republicans the 41 votes they needed to block consideration of the defense bill and the DADT language.

One Response to White House opposes stripping out DADT repeal

  1. John says:

    Give us a break! Will this community swallow any rubbish spoon fed by White House spin-doctors? What shameless tokenism and vapid propaganda!

    Nowhere do Washington Liberals come off as more pathetic and gutless than with LGBT issues. Cowardice and capitulation are NOT strategies. Take a lesson from the right. Trounced by bullies as a result of their gutless compromises, the Obama administration’s uninspired response to belligerent school yard bullies is a promise to be even more conciliatory. I can’t think of anything that would more inspire bullies to bully than a pack simpering of crybabies begging bigoted bullies to be reasonable. Do really think a bully is going to do anything but kick you when you are down?

    Get a clue folks! The only activists who have made any REAL difference or headway are the lawyers who took theses issues into the federal courts where we should have been a long time ago but for the gutless and easily intimidated spineless liberals who feared another Bowers. And just who is showing the Gay community that cajones are? Two of the most conservative lawyers in America – one a Republican! (Prop 8/DOMA.) and the Republican Log Cabin Club (DADT)!

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