Frontlines: The Latest from OutServe-SLDN
One of the most disturbing questions in Washington today is just how much sway the military and the Pentagon have over the President in matters ranging from the number of troops in Afghanistan and the conduct and aims of that war to their eagerness -- indeed, their willingness -- to advance repeal of DADT. ...Read More
09-30-09 By Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN Executive Director | Comment (1)
Late last week a Clear Channel billboard in Memphis, TN that featured gay Marine Tim Smith was vandalized. Tim served from 2001-2005 until he was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." ...Read More
09-30-09 By Paul DeMiglio, Senior Communications Manager | Comment (0)
The upcoming National Equality March is an opportunity for me as a gay American, and specifically, a gay American veteran, to tell our leaders that we expect swift legislative action on repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." ...Read More
09-29-09 By Bleu Copas, former U.S. Army Sergeant | Comment (1)
Over the last week, two more members of Congress have cosponsored the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, showing their support for lifting the ban and strengthening our military readiness. The MREA now has 174 cosponsors. ...Read More
09-24-09 By Jeremy Wilson-Simerman, Policy Advocate | Comment (0)
Congress and the President need to see that it's not just LGBT folks who think repeal is worth making a top priority. 70 percent of straight America supports gay people serving openly. ...Read More
09-23-09 By Paul DeMiglio, Senior Communications Manager | Comment (4)
With the Oct. 10th National Equality March quickly approaching I want to express why I think it is important to speak out about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and how the march is a good opportunity to do so. ...Read More
09-21-09 By David Hall, SLDN Major Gift Manager, Information Systems Manager and former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant | Comment (4)
It's fantastic. ...Read More
09-18-09 By Jeremy Wilson-Simerman | Comment (2)
Time for Mullen and Gates to Take a Clear Stand on DADT
September 16, 2009
Why am I troubled by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen at his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday? Not because he got only one question on "don't ask, don't tell" and to that one, from Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.), he eagerly gave the standard quick response: I'll provide that to you in writing. No, what troubles me are the written responses he gave the Senate Armed Services Committee to their questions on gays in the military. They were released at Admiral Mullen's confirmation hearing after spending weeks on his desk. In a dense fog of words, the Chairman's noncommittal responses signify, well, nothing.
OK, not quite nothing. They did indicate a desire to kick this old can down the road yet again. Was it Napoleon who said if you want to bury something, appoint a commission to study it? No matter, that seems to be what the Pentagon wants to do here. Brush it under the table, kick it down the road, study it a little bit more. Someone over there seems to think that out of sight, out of mind applies to gays in the military. It doesn't.
No matter how much the admiral deflects or obfuscates, this is an issue that is not going away.
Admiral Mullen spoke of the sacrifices made by the 2.2 million families of our service members. He spoke of the 35,000 wounded, the 5,100 American dead--not to mention our allies' casualties, which he didn't, and the countless thousands of nameless Iraqis and Afghanistans brought down by war. Does he suppose none of these men and women who sacrificed a limb or a life were gay? What about the 13,500 service members already forcibly discharged under "don't ask, don't tell"? Didn't they--and their families--sacrifice something too? Are they not part of the "wounds of war" the admiral spoke of? Of course they are, but you'd never know it from his responses. Those responses are neither helpful nor clear; instead they are wobbly, but delivered with impeccable presence, like the admiral himself, the very model of a model navy admiral straight and true.
I am among those who believe it is a smart and sound strategy for the White House to work closely with Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen on repeal, to persuade them that the President's vision for open service is in the best interests of our military and our country. (We already know our strong allies in Congress support this approach.) I believe the White House is continuing to work this. But we need to see more evidence that this is in fact taking place, and we need to see clear signs of progress soon.
It was clear at his confirmation hearing that Admiral Mullen enjoys the enormous support and political good will of the entire Senate Armed Services Committee--and yet he didn't use one chit to help advance his Commander in Chief's objective of open service. Why not?
If Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates are asked towards the end of the year, when the drafting of the next Defense Department budget bill begins in earnest, whether they are prepared to sign off on repeal language, what will their answers be? The written responses that Chairman Mullen dropped on the committee this week clearly show that he is not there yet. How long can we and the White House wait for him and Secretary Gates to get with President Obama's program? Will they be there in the next 30 to 45 days, when another Senate hearing could be taking place? We need to know whose team Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates are playing on. Is it President Obama's White House team, or is it some other team that's playing against their Commander in Chief?
We need an answer to that, and well before that Senate DADT hearing takes place.
09-16-09 By Aubrey Sarvis | Comment (2)
Sunday’s New York Times editorial calls on Congress to protect LGBT employees from discrimination in the workplace by passing ENDA. The piece omitted that the military has fired about 13,000 service members for being gay. ...Read More
09-15-09 By Paul DeMiglio, Senior Communications Manager | Comment (1)
Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis will participate in a panel discussion on DADT on September 29 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. ...Read More
09-10-09 By Liz Feuerbach | Comment (3)