Simply put by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs:
“Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal and professional belief that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would be the right thing to do, …No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”
-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee regarding “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Policy
Will Republicans smear the Admiral for his beliefs? It’s time to end bad policy that continually expels trained soldiers from active duty in a time of war. Dan Savage still wants an “executive order” to ban DADT.
Great, good, feeling hopey again about the repeal of DADT. But, again, Obama could suspend the enforcement of DADT today while Congress works on a solution, just as his head of Homeland Security suspended enforcement of the widow’s penalty while Congress works on a solution. And Obama described the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as abhorrent and promised to repeal it but his administration nevertheless defended the law in court. But I’m prepared to take yes for an answer, of course, on DADT. As depressing as the lack of movement on the big promises—end DADT, repeal DOMA—there has been action on ending the HIV Travel Ban (set in motion by the Bush administration), and hate crimes legislation.
An Executive Order suspending DADT while the repeal is being ushered through congress is simply the wrong way to go. First off, its a political cover for the Republican opposition. An executive order basically circumvents the spirit of the democratic process and will allow the GOP to oppose repeal of DADT as a matter of checking executive power, an executive power GOPers never checked during Bush’s tenure. The merits of the debate will be lost in the middle of the Washington Press Corps asking if “Obama is so full of himself, he thinks he can rule by decree”, Democratic Senators from red states will be spooked and DADT won’t pass.
Repeal of DADT should be pushed to congress for action and the decision to repeal this unjust law should be left to the more reliable US House and the unfortunately, unreliable 59-41 US Senate. When the Senate votes, if Obama has Executive Ordered a DADT ban, it can be cover for conservative Democrats and “Moderate” Republicans from liberal states. Its an excuse for these folks to calculate: “Let’s try the status quo established by Obama’s executive order repealing DADT so I don’t have to take a real stance. Midterms are coming up and I need the anti-homo crowd”.
In addition, an executive order is dependent upon the executive. If the executive ordered DADT ban happens and Obama is a one term President, which could very well be the case, does the DADT ban executive order that Savage wishes for last longer than his one term? We shouldn’t tie the existence of justice to the term limits of any official, no matter what “hopey” feeling we may get. Woodrow Wilson was elected with the help of broad African American support and rewarded the Black leaders and voters who marshaled this voting block by re-segregating the federal government.
As of now, if a Democratic legislator votes against repeal of DADT, they are casting a vote against the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The three men who are in charge of two wars and the military service around the world. Make them vote no and stand on their bigotry. Make them vote that only people who happen to be straight should bear the human cost of war in defense of their country. Make them argue that it is worth throwing away hours of training and expertise because of sexual orientation.
DADT is a very stupid operational rule, let alone an unjust law, but it shouldn’t be repealed by heavy handed executive orders. That can prove to be too fragile a justice.
Update: Sessions/Hagan questioning Sec. Gates and Adm. Mullen