On Thursday, May 27, a combination of liberal and misguided legislators exploited or fell for a contrived “Repeal Deal” that began the process of eliminating the 1993 law regarding gays in the military while denying that result and the price that would be paid. This abnegation of congressional authority occurred despite initially strong letters of opposition from the four military service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Disregarding the still-unheard views of active-duty personnel worldwide, an impressive array of veterans and civilian groups, and the professional advice of 1,167 retired Flag & General Officers for the Military, the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted for an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization bill that repeals the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military, Section 654, Title 10, usually mislabeled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).
The House vote was 234-194, with five Republicans defying their party’s National Platform by voting for Pennsylvania Democrat Patrick Murphy’s amendment for gays in the military. According to Connie Hair of Human Events, the unfaithful five included Libertarian Ron Paul (TX), Joseph Cao (LA), Charles Djou (HI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), and Judy Biggert (IL). Twenty-six Democrats, including HASC Chairman Ike Skelton (MO), senior HASC member Gene Taylor (MS), and the newly-elected Congressman Mark Critz (PA) voted “no” on the amendment.
Earlier the same day, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar amendment, 16 -12. (15 votes were required) Sen. Jim Webb (VA) was the only Democrat to vote against the measure, while Sen. Susan Collins (ME) was the only Republican to vote for it.
The House and Senate amendments to the defense bill were cleverly described as a “compromise” even though passage would repeal the 1993 law. Final action will not occur until the Pentagon finishes its review of how it would impact the military, due on December 1. At that point President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen are supposed to “certify” that repeal will not harm “military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.”
The legislation lacks any definition of these terms, and crystal balls are as scarce as magic wands. Nevertheless, this designated triumvirate of officials (Obama, Gates & Mullen) will have the power to define those phrases and to pull the trigger on the military 60 days after “certification” of their own previously-stated opinions. With Congress and the statute out of the way, the Obama Administration will have full power to impose the full LGBT agenda on the military.
Betrayal of the Chiefs
In a May 30 interview with Fox News Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen was equivocal about legislation that he had pushed and put on track for passage with his own Senate testimony. On February 2 Mullen admitted that the proposed new law would cause problems. Neither he nor Secretary Gates could point to a single advantage for the military, but the politically-correct admiral nevertheless was personally for it. For Secretary Gates, the president’s stated views (and political promises) were the sole justification for “moving out.”
On April 30 Adm. Mullen and Secretary Gates co-signed a strong letter asking Congress to take no action until after the Pentagon working group produces its report. On May 27, however, the American Forces Press Service described Mullen as “comfortable” with the power that would be placed in his hands if the Repeal Deal passed.
Speaking on Fox News shortly after the House and Senate votes, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney reported ,“the service chiefs are furious.” On June 2 Rowan Scarborough wrote a widely-circulated column describing events that left the chiefs feeling betrayed by Chairman Mullen and members of Congress who rushed to repeal the law:
A senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Fox News that “Some troops feel double-crossed because they had been told that nothing would happen quickly and were assured that the Pentagon would take their individual concerns into account.” Sen. James Webb said on CNN, “I believe we had a process in place and to pre-empt it in some ways showed a disrespect for the people in the military.”
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has no operational authority, is responsible to convey the professional advice of the service chiefs to the president. Instead, Adm. Mike Mullen has been promoting the president’s view down the chain of command— in complete defiance of the stated opinions of the four military service chiefs. And he did this even though he admitted in February that he does not know what repeal would mean.
On the House side, Republicans defended the law and the right of military personnel to be heard before the vote was taken. House Ranking Member Rep. “Buck” McKeon presented a laudable statement, recommending “no” votes on both the Murphy Amendment and the full defense bill if the legislation is adopted.
Other Republicans who took to the floor to defend the law included Rep. Mike Pence, (IN), Jack Kingston (GA), Steve Buyer (IN), Tom Rooney (FL), Duncan Hunter (CA), Todd Akin (MO) and many others. In addition, House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) vigorously defended the current law, together with Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed that votes for the repeal legislation would make our military more “American.” On the contrary, forced implementation of the LGBT Law, whether now or later, will Europeanize our military and force it to emulate policies that assign highest priority to social goals at the expense of military necessity. All of this was done just in time for President Obama’s Proclamation of “LGBT Equality Month.”
The Fight Continues
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined with Ranking Member John McCain, who led the opposition for months, in calling for action to remove the measure from the defense bill when it comes before the full Senate, probably before the end of June:
Sen. McCain told Roll Call that he would “without a doubt” support a filibuster if the bill goes to the floor with language to repeal the law with “delayed implementation.” “I’ll do everything in my power,” the Arizona Republican said, citing letters from the four service chiefs urging Congress not to act before a Pentagon review of the policy is complete. “I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.”
In an interview with National Review Online, Sen. John McCain reaffirmed his intent to continue the fight, even if it takes a super-majority (under Senate rules) or a successful filibuster to do it:
This article in Politico explains why final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which now has the Repeal Deal language in it, still is not a “done deal.” The defense bill is controversial for many reasons, including language authorizing abortions in military hospitals. Regardless of the reason, sufficient “no” votes could defeat the bill. (The authorization bill differs from the appropriations bill. Measures in it that are important can and should be enacted separately.)
Meanwhile, even the liberal media started to ask serious questions that should have been discussed months ago:
· New York Times: As ‘Don’t Ask’ Fades, Military Faces Thorny Issues
· Agence France Press (AFP ): US Military Chief Cautions on Gay Ban Repeal
Veterans’ Groups Opposed to Hasty Repeal
If you are a member of the organizations listed below, please contact the leaders to thank them for taking a stand, and to encourage them to pass or reaffirm resolutions at their national conventions. If your group is not on this list, please contact leaders and ask them to join with the respected groups below in opposing hasty action to repeal current law:
American Legion: May 19, 2010 – “The military is a unique environment, in which DADT has worked well without diminishing our nation’s war-fighting capability. Indeed, the core purpose of our military is to fight and win our nation’s wars. Enacting any law that does not enhance the military’s ability to accomplish that mission would be detrimental to the security of our nation. We believe that the repeal of DADT would be such an action.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars: May 25, 2010 – “The military is about the ‘whole,’ not the individual, and the rules and regulations are there for the good order and discipline of all service members… The VFW is fully aware that this issue is all about fulfilling a campaign promise, just as it was in 1993. While we oppose any change to the current DADT policy, as well as to P.L. 103-10, we do urge you and your colleagues to wait until the DoD working group finishes its 10-month review.”
Association of the U.S. Navy: May 20, 2010 – “We ask that the Secretary of Defense comprehensive review board be allowed to complete their extensive review prior to any legislative action on this matter.”
Air Force Association: May 21, 2010 – “Those who serve must be our key constituency, and our efforts must ultimately be to ensure they are ready and able to discharge their responsibilities. Thus, we believe it would be unwise to change such an important policy without having heard from those it will affect. AFA strongly believes their views and values must factor into any legislative changes, as they will drastically alter the identity of our military on all levels of the spectrum.”
National Association of Uniformed Services May 24, 2010 – “NAUS is proud of our troops and we respect their mission at home and overseas. There are serious questions on whether change in this law will improve military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, and we strongly suggest you wait until the Pentagon has reviewed the consequences of repealing the laws presently in force.”
Reserve Officers Association: May 21, 2010 – “The Reserve Officers Association, representing 63,000 Reserve Component members, does not support such hasty action. This issue is very polarizing, and can cause internal strife within our military at a time we are fighting in two theaters of a war.”
National Military Family Association: May 21, 2010 – “NMFA does not have a formal position on the law itself, but sent a letter to Minority Leader John Boehner on May 21. Excerpt: “Our Association agrees with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen that the Department of Defense must be allowed, prior to any legislative action, the opportunity to complete the assessment of the impact of such a policy change, and most importantly develop an attentive comprehensive implementation plan. Our service members and their families deserve no less.”
Army Reserve Association (ARA): (website article endorsing the statement of HASC Chairman Ike Skelton) “My position on this issue has been clear – I support the current policy and I will oppose any amendment to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’. I hope my colleagues will avoid jumping the gun and wait for DOD to complete its work.”
The Military Culture Coalition
In February CMR announced the formation of a Military Culture Coalition (MCC) to encourage communication and cooperation between organizations that support sound military personnel policies. On May 24, the MCC received new support from a long list of distinguished individuals who signed a formal statement coordinated by the Conservative Action Project, chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, III.
Groups such as Family Research Council and FRC Action, Alliance Defense Fund, Focus on the Family Action, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel, Thomas More Law Center, Center for Security Policy, Tradition, Family, & Property, Flag & General Officers for the Military, Traditional Values Coalition and Eagle Forum were very active in the past week, issuing action alerts and generating phone calls from the grassroots to members of the House and Senate. Many groups with 501(c )(4) status pledged to “score” the vote, and others that support partisan congressional candidates pledged to ask their views on this issue before giving an endorsement.
Several organizations established special web pages with information on the issue, or ran articles on blogs like this one in the “Foundry” blog of the Heritage Foundation by Chuck Donovan:
Family Research Council held two news conferences and issued reports by Policy Analyst Peter Sprigg and by Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, USA (Ret.):
Colonel Maginnis has written an excellent history of the 1993 law and the consequences of repealing it:
Rabbi Noison Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency has made several trips from New Jersey to speak with Senate staff about the repeal bill, and issued the following news release expressing disappointment with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT):
Commentaries of Note
· Rep. Duncan Hunter, USA Today: Historic Votes Don’t Assure End to DADT
John R. Guardiano and Robert Knight of Coral Ridge Ministries have asked an important question: Where were conservative media leaders while the culture of the military hung in the balance? With notable exceptions (NewsMax, Human Events, WorldNetDaily and OneNewsNow), liberal media were afire while conservative broadcast media coverage was scarce or non-existent. On the eve of the vote, leading gay activists were guests on several cable news shows while Fox News and major conservative radio talk show hosts did not even mention the pending vote.
We appreciate old and new allies who wrote these commentaries providing various insights on the issue:
Frank Gaffney: Repealing DADT Would Break the All-Volunteer Force
William Buchanan: Gays in the Military
CMR Executive Director Tommy Sears on NRO: What’s the Deal?
John McCormack, Weekly Standard: Obama Admin: Repeal DADT Now, Ask Questions Later
R. L. Bernard, American Thinker: Nonsexual Zones of Trust and Military Policy
Mandatory Reading—Getz: Seeing A Fallen Soldier Home
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The Center for Military Readiness is an independent, non-partisan 501(c)(3) public policy organization that specializes in military social issues. Tax-deductible contributions to CMR can be made here. More information is available at www.cmrlink.org.