The big news with DADT recently has been a bill that was passed in the House Defense Committee that could derail the repeal all together if signed into law. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is the bill’s main sponsor and argues that the decision to repeal DADT was made by the President who’s never been in combat and doesn’t know what the troops want. The bill would “expand the certification requirement needed for repeal to include input from the four military service chiefs,” which would invalidate the repeal law Obama signed earlier this year. Here are more details on what this could mean for the repeal, from The Washington Blade:
The vote in favor of the Hunter amendment was mostly along party lines, although Reps. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) voted against the measure. Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) was the sole Democrat to vote in favor of the measure.
The repeal legislation signed into law in December allows for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after 60 days pass following certification from the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hunter’s amendment would expand the certification requirement to include input from the uniform chiefs of staff for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, billed the amendment as a means to ensure the uniform military leaders — which he described “the ones that are actually responsible for the men and women under their care” — are able to express their opinion before moving forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
“Right now as it stands, the only folks that have to sign on to this are the president, who has never been to war or in ground combat, Adm. [Mike] Mullen, who, with all due respect to him, has never been to ground combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, and Secretary Gates, a political appointee, who is a very fine gentleman, but has never been in ground combat in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Hunter said. “I, and others in this room, have more combat experience than the people who would sign off on the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
Hunter emphasized his amendment would require the service chiefs to issue certification only based on their belief that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal wouldn’t harm morale and unit cohesion for combat arms units under their jurisdiction. According to the Pentagon survey published in November, these units are the most skeptical about whether open service would cause a disruption in the U.S. military.
Involving the military service chiefs in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification process could disrupt or delay open service in the U.S. military because some uniform leaders of the military — notably Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos — expressed opposition to passing repeal legislation last year. Amos has since said the Marine Corps would work to implement open service.
Despite the concerns that were expressed last year, each of the service chiefs testified in April that the process for enacting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has been proceeding smoothly. Some service chiefs — including Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead — have said they oppose any effort to expand the certification requirement and they believe the defense secretary would adequately represent their views in the certification process.
By the way, this new bill is bull. General Mike Mullen and the heads of the military already went before Congress last year and testified that they agreed with repealing DADT. Why is this necessary? This bill is filled with hate. The White House has even issued a statement against the bill. But it may not matter, because the sad thing is, now that it’s made it out of committee the bill is more than likely to be passed by the Republican-dominated House.
Gay marriage is another issue that’s cropped up in the repeal process. Navy officials made a surprise move when they announced clergy in military chapels could perform same-sex marriages in jurisdictions where it is legal. However, conservatives politicians weren’t having it (surprise, surprise) and after pressure from five dozen House Republicans, the Pentagon immediately revoked the Navy’s decision. So close, yet so far away.
At least there’s a bit of good news. Former Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt has finally got her due after seven years of fighting the military in court. SeattlePi.com reports: “Seven years after Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt was suspended under Department of Defense anti-gay restrictions, the decorated flight nurse has settled with the Pentagon. Per the agreement, Witt will retire with full benefits and her discharge will be removed from her record. The settlement ends a legal fight that began Witt’s suspension in 2004 and continued after her discharge in 2006.”