This afternoon, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say that President Obama would call on the Senate to stay in session until it brought up the stand-alone measure to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In a series of passive replies to the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson and the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, Gibbs didn’t directly urge the Senate to consider the measure, but said, “our hope is that the Senate will take this up again and we’ll see this done by the time the year ends.” “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DREAM, along with government funding, are all in a basket of issues that are likely to come after” START, he argued earlier in the press briefing.
Asked by Eleveld why Obama has pledged to stay in DC until the Senate passed START but not DADT, Gibbs replied that the President would wait for the Senate to adjourn before leaving. Gibbs also refused to say if the administration was considering alternatives to legislative repeal:
GIBBS: There is a whole host of important things, beyond the tax deal and START, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell being one of them, that the President believes can be dealt with before Congress leaves town.
ELEVELD: If the legislative effort fails, are there other options on the table? I mean it’s a distinct possibility now.
GIBBS: I should say this, I think it’s a distinct possibility that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be repealed by the end of this year and that’s where our effort is focused.
While the administration isn’t publicly discussing other ways to end the ban, repeal advocates are. This morning, three former service members discharged under the policy filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California asking the court to “reinstate them on the basis of the ‘Witt standard,’ a legal threshold established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in 2008.”
On Sunday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) called on Obama to use his bully pulpit “and urge the Senate to stay in, right up to New Years.” “That’s the problem that I don’t see that kind of a willingness to fight that hard, where he will take that kind of a position and that’s what’s necessary,” Levin said. “The Senate and the House, these are tests of wills.”