January 28, 2010
Who's really stopping DADT repeal?
Posted by: Chris
As some gay progressives and longtime Clinton allies take potshots at President Obama for not having repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell, the real culprits escape scot-free. Consider Ike Skelton, the leading House Democrat on setting military policy:
Seventeen years ago, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) played a major role in crafting the controversial law known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell." When President Bill Clinton wanted to lift the ban preventing gay people from joining the military, Skelton opposed the move. The end result was a compromise under which gay service members would conceal their sexual orientation.
Now, after President Barack Obama pledged during his campaign and first year in office to repeal the law, Skelton finds himself on the opposite side once again.
"I am personally not for changing the law," he said during a C-SPAN "Newsmakers" interview that will air Sunday. … He said the full House Armed Services Committee won't hold a hearing on the repeal of the law. Rather, the Personnel subcommittee will hold the hearing at some point this year.
It's unclear we have the votes to get DADT through Skelton's committee and to the House floor for a vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn't appear spoiling for a fight on this (or any other gay rights) issue.
As a result, the best chance of actually repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell and allowing gays to serve openly in the military is to include it in the Defense Department budget appropriation, as Skelton and Congress did way back in 1993 when they adopted DADT in the first place. There's where we need to apply our pressure, not on nitpicking President Obama's very public commitment in last night's State of the Union address.
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