Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is angry that some progressives touted his willingness to listen to both sides of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ argument — rather than simply making a knee jerk argument about the disruptive effects of homosexuality — as evidence that there was more support for repealing DADT in the Senate than previously thought. Hatch has issued this press release clarifying that he does not favor repealing the policy:
“It’s deeply regrettable that liberal groups are misconstruing my position on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ for activist purposes. I certainly do not support repealing this policy,” Hatch’s statement on Thursday said. [...]
“What I said was that I want to see Adm. Mullen’s report. This is a controversial issue with inflamed passions on both sides,” Hatch said. “Over the years, the views of the military officers and experts, whom I respect, have said that repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would make life for our troops more difficult — especially as our armed forces wage a global war on terrorism,” Hatch said.
This is fairly awkward. If Hatch has already made up his mind that he does “not support repealing this policy” then why wait for Mullen’s report or elicit views of “military officers?” I suspect that the Senator really believes that service members “shouldn’t have to lie about being gay” but is feeling some backlash from conservative culture warriors for even considering a repeal.
Hatch’s backtracking suggests that activists can’t afford a protracted, drawn out debate about DADT. A year-long process will give the right-wing an opportunity to organize their troops, dig up some fear mongering propaganda about the dangers of cohabitation and begin turning public opinion (sound familiar?) Congress must find a way to expedite the military’s “review” process and get the ball rolling on a repeal before more fence sitters decide that they too “certainly” don’t support “repealing this policy.”
But DC Agenda is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters today that “she’s unsure whether the House will overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year before the Pentagon completes its review on implementing repeal.” “‘I don’t know,’ she said during her weekly press conference. ‘I’ll have to examine. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see what is the advantage of going first with legislation or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review — or is it a two-step process?’”