The President has a dilemma. He has struck a deal to get a vote NOW on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell BEFORE the Pentagon has completed its review of the policy BUT military chiefs think that’s a horrible idea. Will the President listen to the military’s top brass or listen to gay rights activists? It really is that simple.
Read below from The New York Times:
The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines objected on Wednesday to a compromise plan to repeal the military’s ban on allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly, a position that put them at odds with President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.
In letters solicited by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who is opposed to repeal, the chiefs said they wanted Congress to delay voting on the issue until after Dec. 1, when the Pentagon is to complete a review of how the military should carry out the changes.
On Monday, Mr. Gates reluctantly signed on to an agreement with the White House and leading lawmakers that could lead to votes in Congress as soon as this week to repeal the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which requires gay men and lesbians to keep their sexual orientation secret if they want to serve in the military. Under the compromise, if the repeal measure were to pass Congress, the new policy would not be put into effect until after the Pentagon completed its review.
Mr. McCain’s solicitation of the letters appeared to be an attempt to give Republicans some cover to vote against repeal, since Republicans could say that they were supporting the view of the top officers of the services who preferred to delay any vote until after Dec. 1. Gay rights advocates have been pushing for a vote before the November midterm elections, when Democrats — who are more likely than Republicans to vote for repeal — are expected to lose seats.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, told Mr. McCain in his letter that “repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward.”
Gen. James T. Conway, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said in his letter that “I encourage the Congress to let the process the secretary of defense created to run its course.” Mr. Gates, who until Monday had urged Congress to take a slow, methodical march toward repeal, had no comment on the letters.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with military personnel in Colorado Springs on Wednesday and said he was comfortable with the proposed legislation because it preserves the right for the president, the defense secretary and himself to certify whether the new law could go into effect.
It remained unclear whether the legislation had the votes necessary to pass the House and Senate. But Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said on Wednesday that he would support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise currently on the table.