The Don’t Ask, Dont’ Tell Compromise Already Meets GOP Demands And Concerns

Despite initially saying that he would re-consider the military’s Don’t Ask, Dont’ Tell (DADT) policy if military leaders suggested that it was ineffective, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who is in a tight primary with conservative challenger JD Hayworth — reacted negatively to last night’s compromise to repeal DADT. McCain told a local radio station that “he welcomed a review of the military’s prohibition on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers,” but said that Democrats are “going to try to jam that through without even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be.”

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who was considered as a swing vote by repeal advocates, issued a similar statement suggesting that repealing the policy is “premature”:

BROWN: It would be premature to act on a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law at this time. The Pentagon is still in the midst of its study of the matter, and its report is due in December…. I believe we have a responsibility to the men and women of our armed forces to be thorough in our consideration of this issue and take their opinions seriously. I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military.

But the Republican opposition is peculiar, since the compromise struck between the White House, Congress, and repeal advocates already meets their demands. Under the agreement, lawmakers will attach repeal legislation to this year’s defense authorization measure, but delay implementation until the Pentagon completes its review and President Obama and military officials certify that the repeal is “consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention.” As the text of the amendment states, “Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect [the DADT seciont] until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.”


Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — who shares the GOP’s concerns and has largely insisted that the Pentagon’s review must precede Congressional action — issued a statement in support of the compromise. “Secretary Gates continues to believe that ideally the DOD review should be completed before there is any legislation to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law,” Gates’ spokesman Geoff Morrell emailed journalists this morning. “With Congress having indicated that is not possible, the Secretary can accept the language in the proposed amendment,” he said.

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, sponsored by Senator Lieberman (I-CT) and supported by Chairman Levin (D-MI) to repeal DADT and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) — the lead sponsor of repeal in the House — will offer an identical amendment to the House’s Defense Authorization bill on the floor. And while Murphy has said that “We have the votes to get this done,” Levin has remained cautiously optimistic about the amendment’s prospects in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Fifteen votes are needed to attach the amendment and advocates are still lobbying Sens. Webb, Byrd, and Bill Nelson. A spokesman for Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has told Fox News that “she would probably support the efforts” “to push for the measure.”

If the amendment passes in committee, it would require 60 votes to strip repeal from the bill during floor debate.The Defense Authorization bill is expected to pass both Houses and be signed by the President by late summer or early fall.


The Washington Blade is reporting that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will support the DADT compromise. A recent survey of Nelson’s constituents found that “69% of Florida voters support allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military, while just 21% oppose allowing gays to serve.”