MEDIA UPDATE: The Latest on DADT Repeal
This on-the-record e-mail is for media and others monitoring the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT):
BREAKING NOW via THE ADVOCATE: DADT repeal in Reid’s Hands
--From Kerry Eleveld: “Fearful that delaying action on “don’t ask, don’t tell” until after the midterms could potentially kill the measure for the year, repeal advocates are pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a Senate floor vote on the Defense funding bill in September.
--Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network: “The reality is the number of legislative days in this Congress are rapidly dwindling and we need to see that the Defense authorization bill up on Senate floor in September.”
--Reid’s spokesperson, reiterating statements he made last month, told The Advocate the Defense authorization bill stood a chance of being addressed upon lawmakers’ return next week. “It’s on the list of things we would like to do in the next few weeks,” said Jim Manley.
--“We reached a point where we can’t sit on sidelines and let the opposition continue to object – the critical hour is here,” Sarvis said, adding that he believes the Reid will keep his commitment to bring the legislation to the floor.
--But if Sarvis does not see such a commitment soon, he said SLDN will take the fight to Reid’s home turf in order to lobby for action. “We’ll take it to Nevada or Arizona or wherever we need to go to get the job done,” he said.
--“I think there’s 60 Senators or more who want to see that Defense authorization bill passed,” Sarvis said. “This would be extraordinary to hold up funding for the troops, for their pay and benefits, their equipment, rifles and armor as they wage war half way around the world for our country.” http://bit.ly/c6EZpw
FROM POLITICO TODAY: THEY’RE ASKING, BUT REID’S NOT TELLING
--“Gay rights advocates are pressing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the date the defense authorization bill, which contains a provision to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” will come to the Senate floor.
--Before recess, Reid and his spokesman said they intended to bring up the defense policy bill soon after the chamber’s Sept. 14 return. But Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said without a date set, activists will be visiting Reid in Las Vegas.
--Sarvis: “In the absence of a specific commitment,” Sarvis told POLITICO. “I fear this could continue to slide.”
--Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley said the Senate will focus on small business next week. Defense authorization remains on the “to-do list” but no date is set, he said.
***KEY TALKING POINTS***
WHY WE NEED TO PASS DADT REPEAL IN SEPTEMBER:
--We cannot let the defense budget bill slide any longer – it needs to move on the Senate floor the week of September 20th. This would be extraordinary to hold up funding for the troops, for their pay and benefits, their equipment, rifles and armor.
--U.S. 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.
--Every senator needs to hear from us now, especially in the 10 key states where our combined SLDN and HRC field teams are working right now: AR, IN, MT, NE, NH, NV, ND, SD, OH, VA.
--We need supporters to tell their senators to follow the lead of Chairman Carl Levin on the Senate floor.
--The pressure will also continue on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; we need to push for a clear commitment that he’ll move the bill the week of September 20th.
--Without the defense budget bill passed before lame duck session, many Republicans have made it clear they will only agree to a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the Defense Dept.
--If a Continuing Resolution is passed, the hard earned House passage of repeal dies. Why is this important? Recall, repeal advocates made it to the House floor vote by bypassing the conservative House Armed Services Committee as we didn’t have the support of the Democratic Chairman, Ike Skelton.
--Every member of the House that voted for the Murphy amendment and every senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee who voted for repeal should be pushing the Senate to schedule a vote ASAP.
--If the defense budget bill doesn't move to the Senate floor by the end of September, DADT repeal may not happen for SEVERAL MORE YEARS.
--How will repeal die if there is no vote this year? If Republicans take back the House in November, as many are beginning to predict, SLDN doesn’t see Speaker Boehner pushing a vote on DADT next year.
SLDN CONTINUES PUSHING NATIONAL ACTION ALERT AHEAD OF SENATE REPEAL VOTE: http://bit.ly/bjzB9Y
SLDN’S AUBREY SARVIS VIA STATEMENT:
--“We need supporters to contact their senators and tell them to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and follow the lead of Chairman Carl Levin who will be managing the defense bill on the floor.
--“It is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments.
--“Senators need to hear from us now, especially in the 10 key states where our combined SLDN and HRC field teams are working now.”
MEET WITH YOUR SENATOR NOW: http://bit.ly/dbjBiF
SLDN CONFIRMS LIST OF KEY SENATORS IN UPCOMING REPEAL VOTE:
--Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.);
--Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);
--Richard Lugar (R-Ind.);
--Jon Tester (D-Mont.);
--Max Baucus (D-Mont.);
--Mike Johanns (R-Neb.);
--John Ensign (R-Nev.);
--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:
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
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.
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:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates;
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen;
Gen. Raymond Odierno;
Gen. David Petraeus;
Vice President Richard Cheney;
President Bill Clinton;
Secretary of Defense William Cohen;
Ret. Marine Corps Gen. James Jones;
General John Shalikashvili
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
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.
SLDN is working closely with Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin to guard against any attempts to strike repeal or weaken its provisions.
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.
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.
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:
(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.
(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).
(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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.