Judging Obama's Plan to End Don't Ask, Don't Tell

What it means and how we got there

This article is from the archive of our partner .

President Obama is taking a big step closer to achieving his goal of ending don't ask, don't tell (DADT) within 2010, which he pledged to do in January. In February, he sent Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen to lobby Congress and to explore how to repeal the policy, which forbids openly gay men and women from serving in the military. The Pentagon even instituted an interim restriction on DADT while it planned for a full repeal. Now the White House, Pentagon, and congressional leaders have reached an agreement on how to end DADT and the time frame in which to do it. Here's the plan, how it happened, and what it means.

  • The Timeline  The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports that Congress can pass the measure before the November elections, and the House may vote as soon as this week. "But even if the measure passes, the policy cannot not change until after Dec. 1, when the Pentagon completes a review of its readiness to deal with the changes. Mr. Obama, his defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would also be required to certify that repeal would not harm readiness."
  • Can It Pass?  The Washington Post's Michael Shear appraises the odds: "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."
  • Congress Trying This Week  Newsweek's Eve Conant writes, "Key votes on the repeal, which would be an amendment in the Defense Authorization Bill, are expected in both the House and Senate later this week."
  • Decisive Victory for DADT Opponents  Mother Jones' Kevin Drum calls this "basically a complete win the DADT repeal forces, since implementation always would have taken some time no matter when repeal was passed. Pelosi and Reid already support repeal, and now, with Obama's active support, the chances of getting it through Congress are excellent."
  • Thank Joe Lieberman Ffor This  Liberal blogger Spencer Ackerman can hardly believe it. "Today the world is beginning to look more just, and Joe Lieberman earned himself a great deal of the responsibility for that. Lieberman and Rep. Patrick Murphy kept holding the Obama administration’s feet to the fire on repealing DADT," he writes. "Yes: this means that we have lived to see the day when Joe Lieberman has pushed the White House to the left. Uncork that. Let it breathe. Then guzzle stiffly."
  • Will Bolster ROTC's Ivy League Presence  The Atlantic's James Fallows adds, "It should also have another effect, in ending the prolonged absence of ROTC programs from a number of the nation's elite universities," which has been "sustained" since Vietnam to protest DADT. "This separation is, in my view, bad for the military, bad for the universities, and bad for the country. ... Any measure that more closely knits the military to its society is a plus, and ROTC has historically been an important part of forming that bond. It's time to bring it back."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.