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    February 18, 2010

    HRC's roadmap to repeal DADT

    Posted by: Chris

    Confusing-road-sign-large-web-view After promises of greater transparency, the Human Rights Campaign responded in part to the blog swarm from earlier this week by releasing its roadmap to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. While it's fine as far as it goes, the roadmap is so vague and conservative that it's likely to leave gay service members quaking in their boots more than members of Congress.

    HRC is stating its DADT repeal effort will be focused on five "key principles":

    1. Continued Presidential Leadership:  We have — and will continue to — call on the White House to include DADT repeal language in the 2011 Department of Defense authorization bill.  HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt made that clear in this story by the DC Agenda on Jan. 11.
    2. Congressional Action in 2010:  We believe that legislative action must run on a parallel track with the work of the DOD implementation review.  We have — and will continue to — press the Senate to include repeal language in the final mark up of this year’s DOD authorization bill.
    3. Gates/Mullen review:  While the testimony of Gates and Mullen marked a historic and extraordinary move towards final repeal of DADT, HRC is advocating that the announced review is comprehensive and expeditious, and includes input from lesbian and gay service members and veterans.  We will work to ensure the Working Group established by Secretary Gates will have all the data and information necessary to address any and all implementation issues.
    4. Strategic Partnerships:  HRC will continue to partner with key groups and Congressional allies working toward repeal including the Center for American Progress, Servicemembers United and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.  By continuing to pool our resources, contacts and intelligence, we can meet the opposition head on and build even greater momentum for repeal.
    5. Voices of Veterans:  HRC’s “Voices of Honor” campaign is organizing veterans across the country to generate media, grassroots and grass tops pressure in key states that will be critical to the final votes in the House and Senate.  The campaign builds on the work of the national “Voices of Honor Tour” last summer which led to 30 new Congressional co-sponsors and garnered national media attention to this discriminatory law.

    It's good to see HRC committed at least to getting DADT repeal language into the Defense Department budget bill now working its way through Congress, rather than letting the ongoing Pentagon review to delay legislative action until next year. But, to paraphrase Mike Dukakis paraphrasing a Wendy's ad, where's the beef?

    Where's the call on HRC members and others to call Congress, complete with a phone number or a link to find out who your representatives are? Which senators and representatives has HRC identified as wavering and of those, which are most crucial to get on board now? At this point, it's not enough to know that your congressional delegation supports DADT review as a general matter. We need to know where they stand on repealing DADT now as part of the DOD authorization bill.

    Why hasn't HRC launched a "public whip count" on including DADT repeal in the DOD budget bill, the way ACT on Principles has produced one (complete with blog widgets) on the issue of DADT repeal generally? (You can see the ACT on Principles widget on the lefthand side of this blog.)

    For those interested in what a roadmap ought to look like, in terms of proposing a specific way forward legislatively, take a look at the SEDI plan proposed by Servicemembers United, one of those "strategic partnerships" that HRC cites above:

    A Set End-date / Delayed Implementation (SEDI) model is ideal for achieving the goals of all parties involved, and reporting benchmarks are reasonable to ensure that sufficient progress is being made toward the ultimate goal of developing the most effective implementation plan.

    Most importantly, the process of working to lock in full legislative repeal of DADT and the Pentagon’s development of the most effective repeal implementation plan can occur simultaneously.

    18-Month Set End-date / Delayed Implementation (SEDI) Model

    • Immediately; Pentagon Working Group begins; Legislation introduced to lock in repeal
    • After 3 months: Deadline for interim changes to policy enforcement; First report to Congress
    • After 6 months – Second report to Congress on progress of repeal implementation planning
    • After 9 months – Third report to Congress on progress of repeal implementation panning 
    • After 12 months - Repeal implementation begins according to plan established by Pentagon 
    • After 18 months – Full repeal completed; Final report to Congress

    This plan, developed by discharged Army translator Alexander Nicholson of Servicemembers United and Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, USPHS/USCG (Ret.), lays out a clear and detailed two-track process that allows the Pentagon review to go forward without delaying the legislative piece until that review is completed next year.

    If a loose-knit group of activists like ACT on Principles and a small, relatively new organization like Servicemembers United can produce concrete tools like these, why is it so impossible for "the nation's largest gay political group," as HRC refers to itself ad nauseum?



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