Defense Sec. Gates Urges Lame-Duck Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

But ending the gay ban could be a lost cause in the Senate

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates is calling for Senate Democrats to repeal the ban on gays in the military during the lame-duck session of Congress. But Gates is speaking out at a moment when many see the issue as a lost cause.

Senators Carl Levin and John McCain are working on a compromise to pass a larger defense spending bill, to which the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is attached, The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler reports. In a crucial test vote in September, the defense bill failed to get 60 votes. When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked what the top priorities were before Republicans take over the House in January, Gibbs didn't mention DADT. And the new commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, has been very vocal in his opposition to repealing the rule. Did Gates make his appeal too late?

  • A Change of Tune for Gates, The Wonk Room's Igor Volsky notes. "The statements mark the first time Gates publicly endorsed efforts to end the policy before the new Republican House is sworn-in in January, something Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell avoided during his press conference on Thursday. Morrell insisted that Gates wanted 'a study to take place in advance of that repeal to educate us how to deal' with repeal." In fact, Volsky writes, "Gates' criticism of Congressional efforts to repeal the ban ahead of the Pentagon's comprehensive review has slowed down the repeal process. Although he quietly endorsed the compromise repeal amendment incorporated into the defense authorization bill," only seven months ago, Gates sent a letter to Ike Skelton, chair of the House armed services committee, requesting no action at all on DADT in 2010.
  • A Huge Failure for Democrats, Adam Serwer argues at The American Prospect. "Look, if Democrats can't repeal a policy more than two thirds of the American people, including a majority of conservatives want gone then they can't expect people to vote for them," Serwer writes. Studies show gays don't hurt combat effectiveness. "That Democrats would cave on this now shows how far the party of Harry Truman has fallen. In December the Defense Department is reportedly set to release a study showing that, like the American people, most servicemembers aren't opposed to gays and lesbians openly serving. That's in contrast to the vast opposition of most servicemembers to racial integration in the 1940s. ... Truman ended segregation in the military because it was the right thing to do, despite the fact that it was unpopular. Ending DADT happens to be both popular and the right thing to do, and Democrats today still can't get it done."
  • Sellouts! John Aravosis writes at Americablog Gay. The Democrats' "betrayal is pretty complete at this point. No DADT. No ENDA. NO DOMA. I really hate being right about these things, but Joe and I predicted this was going to happen, but HRC and the apologists told you they knew better. ... Unbelievable, yet totally expected."
  • Still Better Than the Gay-Bashing GOP, John Cole cautions at Balloon Juice. "The Republicans engage in an eight year campaign of terrorizing gay people. The LGBT community is targeted in election after election, with the White House political crew strategically placing gay-bashing ballot initiatives in close states, in order to use gay-bashing to win re-election. They go so far as attempting to enshrine gay-bashing in the Constitution, and Bush openly supports the Federal Marriage Amendment," Cole writes. Obama, meanwhile, openly supports many gay issues, and has appointed many gay officials, signed the Matthew Shepard Act, ended the HIV travel ban, and given benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. "Despite going from an administration that actively attempted to put bigotry in the constitution to an administration that has slowly but steadily expanded and recognized gay rights, I have heard nothing but screaming about 'shutting down the GAYTM to let them know we are serious!' Gays vote in larger than usual numbers for REPUBLICANS in the election. At every opportunity, gay rights groups are attacking and protesting... the President and the Democrats. Can you understand why this makes no sense to me?"
  • Gay Groups Should Reach Out to Republicans, B. Daniel Blatt argues at GayPatriot. "One of the reasons there's no chance of a Republican Congress repealing the ban is that the various gay groups in Washington have spent little time reaching out to the incoming House majority. And Republicans have nothing to gain politically by voting for the ban," Blatt says. "Now, to be sure, with the proper efforts, these groups could change Republicans minds, but that takes time. GOProud which could be instrumental in this process is only now getting off the ground. So, it's up to Senate Democrats to act swiftly on repeal."
  • Midterms Showed This Is a Lost Cause, The Corner's Elaine Donnelly insists. Liberal candidates lost despite their military record. Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak and Patrick "tried to disguise their extreme social liberalism with the military uniforms they had previously worn. They assumed that their prior military service would make it safe for them to carry water for the LGBT Left, which is determined to impose the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered agenda on our men and women in the military. ... Incumbents and future candidates should not assume that previous military experience, or support for some veterans' causes but not the social concerns of active-duty troops, guarantee conservative voters' support. In this election, eight of the ten military veterans who were endorsed by the conservative Vets for Freedom PAC won their races, but none of the candidates endorsed by the liberal Vote Vets group were elected."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.