Gates's 'don't ask' letter angers gay rights groups
Gay rights groups and supportive Democratic lawmakers spent the weekend striking back at Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and their request that Congress not vote to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy until after the Pentagon finishes a review of a potential repeal.
Activists want Congress to freeze the dismissals of gay service members in this year's Defense Authorization Bill, claiming they have the votes in the House and are only a few votes shy on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
But in a letter sent Friday to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the Pentagon leaders said imposing a moratorium on the military's gay ban before the end of a review "would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence, their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families."
Activists and supporters said the letter puts their efforts in jeopardy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (subject of a fantastic Paul Kane missive in Sunday's Post) said Friday that Congress should “immediately place a moratorium on dismissals under this policy until the review has been completed and Congress has acted.”
Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which has researched the gay ban, said “The White House knows that the political environment will become more challenging over time. If repeal doesn’t happen this calendar year, it is unlikely to pass until after the next presidential election.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said Sunday at a White House rally that Gates' statement "delivered a devastating blow to getting repeal done this year."
The letter -- a "joint political decision" by Obama and Gates, "showed a lack of respect for our LGBT service members who are on the frontlines every day risking their lives for our safety," Sarvis said. (More on that rally here.)
Noting that Obama pledged to repeal "don't ask" this year, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, said the presidents needs to address Gates's "contradiction" immediately: “There is no reason that Congress cannot move forward with repeal while the Pentagon’s review of how – not if – to end the ban on open service continues apace," Solmonese said.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor also said Friday that this is a "how, not if" argument: "That’s why we’ve said that the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed," Vietor said. "The president is committed to getting this done both soon and right.”
So what do you think? Get a repeal into legislation before the Pentagon finishes its review or wait until their study is completed?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
• Cabinet and Staff News: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Iran will try to divert United Nations conference on non-proliferation and denies any Supreme Court ambitions. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar calls the Gulf Coast oil spill "a very grave scenario." EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson takes a big role in the cleanup efforts. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel urges caution in seeking an immigration overhaul. U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman keeping his political options open. Deputy Chief of Mission to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan Gerald Michael Feierstein named ambassador to Yemen. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair urges lawmakers to scrap plan that would force banks to spin off their derivatives businesses. Obama's recent appointees to the Federal Reserve signal new emphasis on supervision of financial institutions. Great profile of the chief of staff of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who's also her grandson.
BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS:
• Chaos at the Broadcasting Board of Governors: The agency "is the most worthless organization in the federal government," Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said in a Friday interview.
• Census Bureau bags made by Industries for the Blind: More than 1 million 2010 Census bags were designed and manufactured by the Industries for the Blind-Milwaukee, a nonprofit that employs around 100 people.
• Pentagon in race for raw materials: Competition from China and other countries raises concerns about the cost and availability of resources deemed vital to national security.
• Military recruiters target of Times Square bomb?: The Nissan Pathfinder that contained a crude bomb was parked only yards from an Armed Forces recruiting station in Times Square that has been the target of an earlier anarchist attack and protests.
• Education Department changes the music: Elevator music is out. “Schoolhouse Rock!” is in.
• Genachowski prefers to keep framework for broadband unchanged: The agency chairman is leaning toward keeping the current regulatory framework for broadband services in place, ater a federal court decision last month showed weaknesses in the agency’s legal status over broadband service providers.
• NTEU files motion to end internship program: The union says the program undercuts the principles at the core of merit-based hiring in the federal sector.
• Agency saves time and money with online recruiting: The National Security Agency could tailor a fair to draw the kind of tech-savvy candidates it was seeking, instead of wading through the more generalized community of job seekers.
• Contracting program to help the disadvantaged riddled with fraud: A watchdog has found that con artists and ineligible companies gamed the government's procurement system to fraudulently win small business contracts, this time in a program designed to assist economically disadvantaged individuals.
MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE:
• Safety device questioned in '04: Federal regulators learned in a 2004 study that a vital piece of oil-drilling safety equipment may not function in deep-water seas but did nothing to bolster industry requirements.
• NASA chief draws fire for rich benefits plan: Charles Bolden is under fire for his efforts to secure generous lifetime health benefits for former astronauts, including himself, in the latest controversy over his leadership.
| May 3, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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