DADT study leak mostly supports repeal

Robert Gates

Robert Gates

A 370-page Pentagon study on implementing repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will report December1 that repeal poses only minimal risk to current war efforts, according to an article posted Wednesday night in the Washington Post.

The Post article is based on information provided to the newspaper from two people “familiar with a draft of the report,” according to Post reporters Ed O’Keefe and Greg Jaffe. The sources are not identified in the article. Asked if the reporters could convey a request from Keen News for follow-up, O’Keefe said Thursday morning that the sources “insisted we not contact them again.”

The article will almost certainly affect the momentum for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) during the lame-duck Congress, as the potential for breaking a Republican-led filibuster hinges largely on 10 senators who said in September that they did not want to vote on the issue until the Pentagon study was available.

The Post said its sources provided details about “a draft” of the study that was distributed late last week to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and leaders—both civilian and uniformed—of the four military branches. The details are overwhelmingly supportive of repeal.

According to the Post, the sources say the draft indicates that more than 70 percent of 400,000 servicemembers and 150,000 military spouses surveyed about repeal said effect of repeal would be positive, mixed, or nonexistent. The survey found that a majority had no strong objections, though a significant minority is opposed. But the study’s authors reportedly concluded that objections to serving alongside openly gay colleagues would drop over time. And it says that servicemembers who object to sharing a room or shower with openly gay troops should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The study reportedly does not recommend any significant changes to military housing or benefits, saying that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits recognition of same-sex spouses.

Although many political observers have suggested there is little to no chance that the lame-duck Congress will pass a defense authorization bill this year with the DADT repeal language intact, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Washington Blade Monday that “Democrats are going to try very hard” to do so.

And in a telephone conference call with reporters Wednesday, Winnie Stachelberg, a key participant in meetings with the White House on the issue, said she thinks the strong statements from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer in recent days have help put the repeal effort “in a solid position” during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Stachelberg, who is a vice president at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said pro-repeal activists need to focus on 10 senators who indicated during debate in September that they wanted to hear from the Pentagon study before taking a position on repeal. The Center’s 10 include Republicans Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, John McCain of Arizona, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio. It also includes Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia. And it includes two senators who will not take their seats until the new Congress convenes in January –Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, whose election is still pending, and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

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

The House passed DADT repeal language in its version of the FY 2011 defense authorization bill last May, but the Senate was unable to take up a similar version of the bill in September when Republicans led a filibuster aimed primarily at DADT repeal.

Some unsourced reports suggested last week that Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a supporter of repeal, was discussing with Senator McCain the possibility of stripping DADT repeal from the bill. But neither senator confirmed that report and, with unsourced reports, it’s hard to know what is really being discussed and what is simply a rumor being spread by one side or the other to create an appearance of inevitability to advance their own interests.

Stachelberg said Wednesday she believes the only real objections surrounding DADT repeal now are ones over procedure—how and when to repeal it, not substance. But she acknowledged that Congress must vote repeal this year because “next year would be very grim.”

4 Responses to DADT study leak mostly supports repeal

  1. Karen Johnson says:

    I am your HARDEST WORKING volunteer. If, by no other means, it is time for a Presidential mandate to end DADT. We ALL understand the complexities, we only wish our President had the ears of JFK, MLK and Uncle Teddy… not the Clintons.

  2. Barbara Samuels says:

    The people, the military, and the people have spoken. Push Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell while the Democrats still have the power and control.

  3. malissa daniel beeson says:

    It is too shameful that we even have this discussion. If someone is willing to give their life for this country–they have a right to be respected as a human being–not a stereotype.

  4. dhondup says:

    i strongly agree with the accusation on stereotype. there is something wrong with people’s judgement.

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