Members Crossing Party Lines on DADT Repeal

Republicans and Democrats are crossing party lines when it comes to the recently proposed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s policy that prevents gays from openly serving in the armed forces.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will meet behind closed doors today with Chairman Carl Levin (D.-Mich.) leading the push to add the repeal through an amendment to the essential defense authorization bill.

But some members of both parties say that they are uncomfortable moving forward with the repeal before the Pentagon can review the consequences of the action.

While gay rights groups and the White House can count on Levin and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I.-Conn.) to vote for the repeal, committee member Jim Webb (D.-Va.) said Wednesday that he sees "no reason for the political process to pre-empt" the Pentagon study.

Rep. Ike Skelton (D.-Mo) chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also stated he supports the current policy and will oppose any amendment to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. “I hope my colleagues will avoid jumping the gun and wait for DOD to complete its work,” said Skelton.

Those opposing the repeal hoped that they could also count on Senate Armed Services Committee member Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.) who had been a key undecided vote. But Nelson recently announced that he would support the change in policy.

Republican committee member Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said also Wednesday that she would support the measure.  

President Obama was heckled in California on Tuesday night by protestors urging him to move faster in repealing the policy.

Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly said in a statement, “Any vote for a ‘repeal deal’ with ‘delayed implementation’ would be an irresponsible abnegation of Congress’ authority, surrendering the military to the control of political appointees doing the president’s bidding.”

“Responsible members of Congress are not going to vote for a bill that should be called ‘Don’t Wait, Don’t Think, Just Vote For…Whatever,’” said Donnelly.

Donnelly’s press release cited a letter (read here) sent to Rep. Skelton on April 30, 2010 from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen in which both “strongly oppose any legislation that seeks to change this policy prior to the completion of” the Pentagon assessment.

“It would send a damaging message to our men and women in uniform that their views, concerns, insights, and perspectives do not matter,” said Gates and Mullen.

Frank Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, told HUMAN EVENTS that his concern is that if the policy is repealed the military may lose out on retaining personnel. A poll by Military Times showed that between 10% and 25% of those who are currently in the military might say, “I’m not going to serve.”

“You will break the all-volunteer force. And in time of war, in time of great — and growing —  international threats to this country, that’s not something we can afford to do,” said Gaffney.

The House is expected to take up the vote this week as well. Sources tell HUMAN EVENTS that the House has considered working through the weekend. If the Senate Armed Services Committee approves the repeal, the measure will be taken up after the Memorial Day holiday.