Thursday, July 9, 2009

Taking the Lead

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) is sponsoring a bill in the House to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT).

Murphy, a second-term Democrat, will be lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” — a policy first passed by Congress and signed into law under President Bill Clinton.

“It’s our job,” Murphy said of a repeal. “This was an act of Congress in 1993 and it will take an act of Congress” to reverse it.

The bill already has over 150 co-sponsors.

The boilerplate argument for the policy put forth by the usual suspects is that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military is disruptive to “unit cohesion” and that the armed forces aren’t the place for “social experimentation.” That’s also the same argument that was used sixty years ago when President Truman desegregated the troops. And in the case of Rep. Murphy, he knows a little something about serving his country: “In addition to serving two deployments in Bosnia and in Baghdad, Murphy was awarded a Bronze Star and his unit earned the Presidential Unit Citation. He is also a former West Point professor and an ex-military attorney.”

As in this case and the efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (see below), the Obama administration is letting someone else — in this case, the Congress — take the lead. I suppose there is method in this; as Mr. Murphy notes, Congress passed DADT in the first place. But here’s hoping that when the going gets tough for this — and it will; the Republicans have never turned down an opportunity for gratuitous gay-bashing if they can invoke supporting the troops — the White House does a little more than just saying the president will sign the bill if it passes.

Via Steve Benen.