Equality Matters’ Kerry Eleveld has a smart piece about the Pentagon’s reluctance to implement a nondiscrimination policy in the wake of DADT repeal. If you recall, the measure was included in the original repeal bill offered by former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), but was eventually dropped in an effort to (presumably) win support for repeal from the Pentagon and Congress:
Last week, headlines suggested that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal implementation was on the move even though Pentagon officials gave no target date for when it would be complete.
But here’s what the reports missed: President Barack Obama and Defense Department officials are preparing to provide lesbian and gay service members the space to serve openly without risking expulsion while simultaneously affording them absolutely no legally enforceable anti-discrimination protections once they are visible.
Sure, they may not be at risk for being discharged after implementation, but they will have no means of sustainable legal recourse if they are discriminated against in any other way (or if the political environment shifts) on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Eliminating discharges is only part of the battle in terms of protecting gay service members, and candidate Barack Obama was extremely clear on this point.
Obama was supportive of instituting a nondiscrimination policy as a candidate, but recently dodged the question twice during a recent interview with Eleveld, refusing to say if he would issue an executive order implementing the measure. Obama’s elusiveness is somewhat surprising because, in May, Murphy had suggested that he had received assurances that the government would implement a nondiscrimination policy once DADT is repealed.
“I’m fully confident in the public testimony of both Secretary of Defense Gates of Chairman Mike Mullen and our current Commander in Chief, Barack Obama, that they have been very clear that they want to have a nondiscriminatory policy in place,” Murhpy told me. “Having a nondiscriminatory policy in place was impossible because U.S. law for 17 years was that we’ll continue discrimination that we currently do as under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman could put clearly a policy in place that would not discriminate against men and women because of their sexual orientation. And I have full confidence that they will.” Well, we’re still waiting.