Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DADT Dealing

There’s a deal in the works to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), but it has some caveats in it that could make it tough to actually happen.

The compromise was finalized in meetings Monday at the White House and on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers will now, within days, vote on amendments that would repeal the Clinton-era policy, with a provision ensuring that any change would not take effect until after the Pentagon completes a study about its impact on troops. That study is due to Congress by Dec. 1.

In a letter to lawmakers pushing for a legislative repeal, White House budget director Peter Orszag wrote Monday that the administration “supports the proposed amendment.”

“Such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions,” he wrote.

While gay rights advocates hailed the move as a “dramatic breakthrough,” it remained uncertain whether the deal would secure enough votes to pass both houses of Congress. Republicans have vowed to maintain “don’t ask, don’t tell,” while conservative Democrats have said they would oppose a repeal unless military leaders made it clear that they approved of such a change.

Even if the compromise language passes, a legislative repeal would take effect only after Obama certified that the change would not harm the nation’s military readiness.

There’s lot of “if’s” and “however’s” in there to make it very hard for this to just happen. I suppose it was too much to hope that it would just, y’know, happen; that Congress and the military, in spite of all their heartfelt appeals to the fairness and understanding of the inherent dishonesty and bigotry in the current policy, would simply repeal DADT and be done with it. Studies, surveys, and certifications are just sops to the homophobes and the campaign strategists; no one has yet to come up with an argument for keeping the policy that doesn’t rely on mythology or fear-mongering, including insulting the intelligence and professionalism of both straight and gay soldiers.

This deal puts the repeal on the table long after the November elections and out of sight. That may be the only way that it will pass, but it smells of cowardice, not compromise.