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BREAKING UPDATE: Gaga, Reid Share Tweets on DADT Repeal

THIS MORNING GAGA SENT HER NEAR 7 MILLION FOLLOWERS: “@ladygaga http://twitpic.com/2ocx9i - Gay Veterans were my VMA dates. Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. CALL HARRY REID to Schedule Senate Vote”

MOMENTS AGO SEN. REID RESPONDED: Via @HarryReid – @ladygaga There is a vote on #DADT next week. Anyone qualified to serve this country should be allowed to do so http://bit.ly/9ucdIj #nvsen

PEOPLE TAKING ACTION: www.LadyGaga.com continues serving as an action page to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- The message to Senators: Vote on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal the week of Sept. 20!

JUST POSTED: PEREZ HILTON NOW SENDING HIS PEEPS TO TAKE ACTION: http://bit.ly/aiyYge

GAGA TO ELLEN ON SEASON PREMIERE SHOW: Take action and support DADT repeal http://bit.ly/9GpBFL

YAHOO SEARCH CONFIRMS GAGA IMPACT: “After the [VMAs] aired, Web searches soared on everything from "lady gaga guests" to "what does SLDN stand for" (it stands for "Servicemembers Legal Defense Network"). The official site for SLDN has posted a message encouraging those who feel "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should be repealed to call their representatives in Washington. Lady Gaga is an outspoken supporter of gay rights.” http://yhoo.it/bDPc4J

BREAKING LAST NIGHT: SENATOR REID ANNOUNCES HE INTENDS TO HOLD VOTE ON REPEAL: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confirmed last night that he intends to bring the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the senate floor next week. The NDAA contains the amendment to allow for the repeal of DADT.

STATEMENT FROM AUBREY SARVIS: “We applaud the Senate Majority Leader's courage and his statement tonight to bring the defense bill to the floor. Now, we must deliver.”

--“Repeal proponents may well need 60 votes in the Senate to get to this important debate in September. We are now in the final stretch and we must prevail. Repeal supporters should not stop calling their senators.

--Sen. John McCain has been a strong and vocal opponent from the start and it is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments.”

*NEW* SLDN LEGAL TEAM SENDS PENTAGON FORMAL RECOMMENDNATIONS TO IMPLEMENT REPEAL: http://bit.ly/cuRXqv

TODAY’S POLITICO MORNING DEFENSE:

--SNEAK PEEK: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network submitted “implementation recommendations” to Carter Ham and Jeh Johnson, the heads of the Pentagon's Working Group on DADT. Those recommendations included a simple message: Don't worry, this will be easy. SLDN will release those recommendations later this morning, but Morning Defense got a preview.

--LEGAL MUMBO JUMBO: The recommendations contain a number of legal provisions SLDN believes the Working Group should incorporate into the law in order for repeal to take place. But the bottom line is this, SLDN says: If the bill passes next week with repeal language intact, the Pentagon will have very little else to do. “What we're underscoring is, don't be confused by all the sound and the fury of all the third parties” about implementing repeal, SLDN's Aubrey Sarvis told Morning Defense.

--Read the exec summary of the report http://bit.ly/cWexAp

FOR LAUGHS: Gaga supporting repeal turns into an e-card: http://some.ly/boxMc4

MTV NEWS ON THE SERVICE MEMBERS WHO WALKED WITH GAGA: http://on.mtv.com/boXrF2

BY THE NUMBERS: The VMAs grabbed 11.4 million viewers and is the #1 cable telecast of 2010 for the network and the third-most-watched telecast on MTV ever.

FACEBOOK POST ON REPEAL BY LADY GAGA WITH 24,641 "LIKES": http://bit.ly/coK4Ur

GAGA INTERVIEW ON WHITE CARPET WITH SERVICE MEMBERS / MOST WATCHED MTV.COM VIDEO: http://on.mtv.com/cD1B00

IN THE COMMENTS: U.S. Soldier in Iraq watches Lady Gaga on MTV, calls Senate switchboard, and writes thank you note: www.SLDN.org/Gaga

--From Balad, Iraq: “Thank you Lady Gaga! I called my Senators from Iraq…it took all of three minutes (one minute was dedicated to all the numbers I had to push on the telephone). Let’s keep the pressure up!”

THE WASHINGTON POST w/VIDEO: http://bit.ly/bRbVrN

--By Ed O’Keefe: “Gay rights advocates hoping to convince the U.S. Senate to move quickly on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy have enlisted a big-name lobbyist: Lady Gaga.

“The voice behind "Bad Romance" and "Alejandro" won several prizes at MTV's Video Music Awards on Sunday night, but also turned heads by waltzing down the red carpet with four former service members impacted by the Pentagon's gay ban.

--SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said Gaga's move "casts a spotlight on the unjust burden that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' imposes upon the brave men and women who defend our country every day, and further underscores why the Senate must swiftly act to get rid of this despicable law for good."

--Her Web site also will direct supporters to call the U.S. Capitol switchboard to urge the Senate to include a repeal in the annual Defense spending bill. The House's version of the bill already includes a repeal.

POLITICO MORNING DEFENSE ON MONDAY:

--LADY GAGA: TELEPHONE THE CAPITOL - The pop star walked the red carpet with four service members discharged under DADT at the MTV Awards last night, and wants Americans to call the Capitol switchboard to push Congress to repeal the policy. Gaga tweeted: “real heroes on my arms tonight.” Gaga met with other service members affected by DADT in D.C. last week.

--THE FOUR ON HER ARM - David Hall, former AF staff sergeant, Mike Almy, former AF major, and Stacy Vasquez, a former Army SFC, all discharged under DADT; and Katie Miller, a West Point cadet who resigned in August in protest against the law.

STATEMENT FROM SLDN’S AUBREY SARVIS:

--“Lady Gaga’s recognition of these fine patriots casts a spotlight on the unjust burden that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ imposes upon the brave men and women who defend our country every day, and further underscores why the Senate must swiftly act to get rid of this despicable law for good.”

--“With expected votes on the Senate floor later this month, advocates of open service still have time to contact both their senators and urge them to show support for all our veterans by voting to end DADT.”

MAJOR WITT TRIAL CONTINUES:

--The ACLU of Washington is in U.S. District Court for Western Washington to challenge the dismissal of Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt under DADT.

--Maj. Witt is a decorated flight nurse and operating room nurse assigned to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma. In 1993, she was selected to be the "poster child" for the Air Force Nurse Corps recruitment flyer. …Despite all of this, she was dismissed from the Air Force in 2006 because of her sexual orientation.

--The ACLU of Washington filed suit on Maj. Witt’s behalf. While it was originally dismissed by the district court, the case was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the Air Force must prove that dismissing a specific service member under DADT is necessary to ensure "good order, morale, and discipline" within the unit he or she served, rather than simply proving generally that DADT advances military readiness.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Days After ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Ruling, Another Challenge Heads to Court

--By James Dao: “For 17 years, Maj. Margaret Witt rose steadily through the Air Force and Air Force Reserves, winning plaudits from colleagues, strong performance reviews from superiors and service medals from the department. A flight nurse, she treated wounded troops during Desert Storm and was featured in Air Force promotional materials for years. Major Witt is also a lesbian.

--Continue reading: http://nyti.ms/b5E30N

FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEO: SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis on MSNBC’s Hardball: http://bit.ly/bUWcPk

FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEO: SLDN client and former U.S. Air Force Major Mike Almy on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show: http://bit.ly/bG3KM2

SLDN TO ACTIVE DUTY: DO NOT COME OUT / Tweet this warning now: http://bit.ly/dkn9y8

--SLDN reissued a national warning to active duty, guard, and reserve service members today after a federal court ruled DADT unconstitutional.

--“With ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal sitting before the Senate and a federal district court ruling the law unconstitutional, it is critical that service members do not come out,” said Sarvis.

--“DADT remains the law and service members are still being discharged. SLDN is working with clients right now who are in the discharge process. The Pentagon will continue discharging gay and lesbian service members until the law ends. We're very close to a vote in the senate and we need all hands on deck: call your senators now and tell them we need a vote on the floor the week of September 20.”

RUSSELL SIMMONS SPEAKS OUT FOR REPEAL: Just posted at Huffington Post: http://huff.to/cwY8j8 

SLDN CONFIRMS LIST OF KEY SENATORS IN UPCOMING REPEAL VOTE:

--Harry Reid (D-NV)
--Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
--John McCain (R-AZ)
--Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.);
--Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);
--Richard Lugar (R-Ind.);
--Jon Tester (D-Mont.);
--Max Baucus (D-Mont.);
--Judd Gregg (R-N.H.);
--Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.);
--Kent Conrad (D-N.D.);
--George Voinovich (R-Ohio);
--Tim Johnson (D-S.D.);
--Mark Warner (D-Va.).

LIST OF KEY STATES IN FIGHT FOR REPEAL: These states have senators whose votes on DADT repeal are critical:

--Arkansas
--Indiana
--Montana
--Nebraska
--Nevada
--New Hampshire
--North Dakota
--Ohio
--South Dakota
--Virginia

SLDN FIGHTING ANY “DELAY / KILL” TACTICS BY OPPONENTS:

-- Even with a filibuster proof 60-vote majority, SLDN and our repeal allies will be closely watching for any crippling amendments offered on the floor and a “motion to strike” that could allow repeal opponents to remove the repeal language from the defense bill.

--SLDN is working closely with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin to guard against any attempts to strike repeal or weaken its provisions.

QUESTION AND ANSWER REPEAL GUIDE:

--When will the Senate vote on the floor?

--When does the Pentagon Working Group submit its report?

--What is the certification process?

--How come the law won’t immediately be repealed?

--Why will the discharges continue after the President signs the bill?

--Find the answers: http://bit.ly/b8ekAf

--Merely repealing DADT won't ensure that lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members can serve free of discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Policies and regulations would need to be written and put in place. SLDN will encourage the President to issue an executive order protecting service members from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

--This gives the President the opportunity to show strong leadership by adding non-discrimination language for sexual orientation to the uniform side of the military via Executive Order.

WHY SLDN IS PUSHING FOR AN EXECUTIVE ORDER AFTER CERTIFICATION:

--Merely repealing DADT won't ensure that lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members can serve free of discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Policies and regulations would need to be written and put in place. SLDN will encourage the President to issue an executive order protecting service members from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

--This gives the President the opportunity to show strong leadership by adding non-discrimination language for sexual orientation to the uniform side of the military via Executive Order.

EXECUTIVE ORDER BREAKDOWN: Previous non-discrimination orders

--EO 9981 (1948) issued by President Harry Truman prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

--EO 11478 (1969) prohibited discrimination in employment within the federal government based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or age. It applied to all civilian employees, including those in the Defense Department.

--EO 13087 (1998) issued by President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation in federal hiring guidelines has been successful and set a durable precedent. OPM issued a guidance booklet in 1999, http://www.opm.gov/er/orientation.htm.

FROM CNN.com: Murdered soldier's parents: Repeal 'don't ask, don't tell'

--SLDN’s Susan LaBombard recently flew to Missouri where she visited with Pat and Wally Kutteles and has been working with them for the past few weeks on this opinion piece published today by CNN.

--Pat and Wally are the parents of Pfc. Barry Winchell, who was murdered 11 years ago at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

--“The coffee was brewing and we were just starting our day when the telephone rang the morning of July 5, 1999. It was a call that every parent prays never will come. The Army colonel was calling from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where our son was based in the U.S. Army. A fellow soldier had attacked our son, Barry Winchell. He had been taken to a civilian hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

We raced to the Kansas City airport. When we arrived at the hospital, Barry was clinging to life. His face was unrecognizable. Contrary to what the colonel had said on the telephone, Barry had not been kicked in the head by the other soldier. He had been beaten with a baseball bat as he slept in the barracks. The doctor said he had irreparable brain damage and recovery was unlikely.

Barry had been a victim of constant, vicious harassment after another soldier -- one of two involved in his murder -- started a rumor that he was gay.” Continue reading: http://bit.ly/aIHbvw

CNN PROFILES SLDN / INTERVIEWS ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEMBER WHO MADE 10,000th “CALL FOR ASSISTANCE” TO SLDN HOTLINE: http://bit.ly/b7RNMr

ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEMBERS: Gay and lesbian service members with questions on repeal and how this impacts them are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

WARNING TO SERVICE MEMBERS – “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS STILL THE LAW: SLDN issued a national action alert warning gay and lesbian service members that they can still be fired under DADT.

--Aubrey Sarvis: “While the votes in the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee are historic, it is important for all gay and lesbian, active-duty service members, including those in the reserves and the national guard, to know they’re at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that remains on the books.”

--Read the warning / help spread the word: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.WHY SLDN IS PUSHING FOR AN EXECUTIVE ORDER AFTER CERTIFICATION:

MSNBC’S RACHEL MADDOW AND NEW YORK DAILY NEWS HIGHLIGHT WARNING TO SERVICE MEMBERS:

--Watch The Rachel Maddow Show on the warning: http://bit.ly/ciufIW

--Read the New York Daily News on the warning: http://bit.ly/chTOTX

PENTAGON: INVESTIGATIONS AND DISCHARGES UNDER DADT WILL CONTINUE

--A Pentagon spokesperson recently confirmed to the Denver Post that investigations and discharges of gay and lesbian service members will continue. Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson, said: "The law is still in effect, and if someone were to out themselves, we would have to begin the discharge process."

--Aubrey Sarvis: “The Pentagon is being very clear that they will continue the discharges and gay and lesbian active-duty service members, including those in the reserves and the national guard, remain at risk. Even with the recent votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee, the discharges are continuing. Qualified men and women of our armed forces will continue to be fired from their jobs and it is putting our national security at risk. And even despite the new ‘more humane’ Pentagon Instructions, we are aware of an ‘O-7’ – a one-star general – signing off on a discharge very recently. Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011.”

CNN POLL: Nearly 8 in 10 favor gays in the military

--Most Americans say people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, according to a new national poll.

--A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five opposed.

--"Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups." Continue reading: http://bit.ly/amCVZ8

LETTER FROM FORMER JCS:
General John Shalikashvili fired back at a letter from the Service Chiefs that was being circulated by Senator John McCain. Read the letter: http://bit.ly/abTmzq

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF SUPPORTS REPEAL:

--At the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing February 2 – the first to discuss repeal -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen made it clear that DADT does not serve in the best interest of our men and women in uniform: "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, personally, it comes down to integrity - theirs as individuals and ours as a nation.”

--From The Hill’s Roxana Tiron: “The nation’s senior military officials removed a huge obstacle to gays serving openly in the military by telling Congress on Tuesday that they support President Barack Obama’s decision to repeal the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ law.” LINK: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/79275-adm-mullen-repealing-dont-ask-dont-tell-is-the-right-thing-to-do

KEY VOICES SUPPORTING REPEAL:

--Current and former military and government leaders are fully behind repeal:

o Secretary of Defense Robert Gates;
o Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen;
o Gen. Raymond Odierno;
o Gen. David Petraeus;
o Vice President Richard Cheney;
o President Bill Clinton;
o Secretary of Defense William Cohen;
o Ret. Marine Corps Gen. James Jones;
o General John Shalikashvili
o General Colin Powell

104 GENERALS AND ADMIRALS SUPPORT REPEAL:

--In addition, a letter signed by 104 retired admirals and generals was released in late 2008 and included a strong call for repeal: http://palmcenter.org/press/dadt/releases/104Generals%2526Admirals-GayBanMustEnd

##

REPORTER GUIDE:

The Path Forward on the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), released a guide today on the path to repeal.

THE SENATE VOTE:

• After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the U.S. Senate is now poised to take it up. An amendment that would allow for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was successfully attached to the NDAA on the House floor (234 to 194) and in the Senate Armed Services Committee (16-12) on May 27.

• Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told the Washington Blade on July 23 that he’s expecting the full Senate to take up the NDAA, which includes repeal, in September after lawmakers return from August recess.

• SLDN and other repeal advocates are working to shore up a filibuster proof majority, 60 Senate votes, to proceed to consideration of the NDAA. While this is traditionally a “must-pass” piece of legislation, the White House has threatened to veto the bill due to spending disagreements unrelated to the repeal of DADT.

• Even with a filibuster proof 60-vote majority, SLDN and our repeal allies will be closely watching for any crippling amendments offered on the floor and a “motion to strike” that could allow repeal opponents to remove the repeal language from the defense bill.

o SLDN is working closely with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin to guard against any attempts to strike repeal or weaken its provisions.

o For instance, we will vigorously oppose any amendment to expand the certification process in the “compromise." Opponents of open service may be considering an amendment that would require all of the Joint Chiefs to sign off on the certification process. This killer amendment is designed to delay open service for years.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE:

• After passage in the Senate, repeal advocates will focus on the conference committee where staff work would begin shortly thereafter. The committee will be tasked with resolving any differences in the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. At this time, the language in the repeal amendment for DADT is the same in both chambers – a good thing.

• With identical amendment language in both chambers, it is out of the scope of conference. However, SLDN does not underestimate the “Big Four.” The “Big Four” are the chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Traditionally, the significant policy differences are resolved by the chairs and ranking members. Only one of the four supports repeal: Senate Chairman Carl Levin. The ranking member in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, and House Chairman Ike Skelton and ranking member Rep. Howard McKeon, do not.

• The conference committee will produce a conference report and we expect a vote in both the House and Senate chambers on that report, likely in November or December.

THE PENTAGON WORKING GROUP REPORT:

• On or before December 1, the Pentagon Working Group is required to submit its report to Congress and the Secretary of Defense. The working group was established to author a report on “how” to implement repeal, not “if” repeal should happen.

PRESIDENTIAL BILL SIGNING:

• When the President signs the NDAA – with the repeal amendment attached – nothing would happen. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.

CERTIFICATION:

• At some point after the Pentagon Working Group submits its report, the President would transmit to the congressional Armed Services Committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

o (A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

o (B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

o (C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

• “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law at this point. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.

REPEAL EFFECTIVE 60 DAYS AFTER TRANSMITTAL:

• After the President transmits written certification to the congressional Armed Services Committees, full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be effective 60 days later.

EXECUTIVE ORDER BY THE PRESIDENT:

• Merely repealing DADT won't ensure that lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members can serve free of discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Policies and regulations would need to be written and put in place. SLDN will encourage the President to issue an executive order protecting service members from discrimination based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

o This gives the President the opportunity to show strong leadership by adding non-discrimination of sexual orientation to the uniform side of the military via Executive Order.

o EO 9981 (1948) issued by President Harry Truman prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

o EO 11478 (1969) prohibited discrimination in employment within the federal government based on race, color, sex, national origin, handicap, or age. It applied to all civilian employees, including those in the Defense Department.

o EO 13087 (1998) issued by President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation in federal hiring guidelines has been successful and set a durable precedent. OPM issued a guidance booklet in 1999, http://www.opm.gov/er/orientation.htm.

SPOKESPEOPLE AVAILABLE: If you would like to speak to a discharged or former service member, or SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis – contact Trevor Thomas: 616-430-2030 or trevor@sldn.org.

SLDN FREE HOTLINE: Gay and lesbian service members with questions on repeal are urged to contact the SLDN hotline to speak with a staff attorney: 202-328-3244 x100.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

-30-

Trevor R. Thomas
Director of Communications
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
616.430.2030 (c)
trevor@sldn.org

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