Pressure mounts for repeal of gay military ban before Congress ends
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Opponents of the federal ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military are increasing the pressure for the law’s repeal, as Senate Republicans continue to stonewall any new legislation until the Bush tax cuts are extended first.
According to The Hill, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is demanding the U.S. Senate stay in session until a vote is held on the $725.9 billion defense authorization bill, which includes a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” as well as a repeal of the ban on military bases performing abortions.
Lieberman is demanding that the GOP allow debate on the bill, but all 42 GOP Senators (including several sympathetic to DADT repeal) have pledged to filibuster all measures until the tax increases are stopped and a budget is passed to finance the federal government in 2011.
Lieberman spokeswoman Erika Masonhall told the Hill that the Senator believes he could get DADT repealed before the end of the Senate’s lame-duck session, “provided that leadership allows time for sufficient debate and amendments.”
With the days fast approaching to Christmas, time is a luxury that proponents of repealing DADT do not have. The GOP’s leadership has indicated they have no problem with running out the clock.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this weekend on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he doubted the time constraints would allow them time to debate the bill properly before the end of the year.
“I don’t see how we can possibly finish the defense authorization bill, a two-week bill, wholly aside from these controversial items that are in it,” McConnell said.
Next to DADT repeal, another controversial measure in the bill would allow military hospitals and doctors on bases to perform elective abortions. The National Right to Life Committee has warned that any vote to pass the defense bill would be scored as a pro-abortion vote.
Friday’s Senate hearings on “don’t ask” repeal did not bode well for advocates of repeal. Although both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, political appointees, have advocated for repeal, three out of four service chiefs voiced their opposition before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Only the chief of the Navy, Admiral Gary Roughead, said he would embrace repeal.
“I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back on the Marines most engaged in the day-to-day work of operations in Afghanistan,” said Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant.
Amos said the Pentagon’s working group report did not address “the risk to the force should repeal be undertaken while the Corps is engaged in its 9th year of combat operations.”
According to the Pentagon’s report, approximately 67 percent of troops believe repeal will have some negative effect on the military, with 30 percent saying the overall effect would be negative.
However a majority of U.S. combat troops – both Army and Marines – reported repeal would have a “negative” effect on their units.
Amos quoted a letter before the Senate committee sent by a combat Marine officer. “If you were to add any element of sexual competition, inter-unit sexuality, or hesitance in trust, it would unquestionably prevent those bonds from forming or immediately destroy them if introduced,” Amos quoted.
Air Force chief Gen. Norton Schwartz also took issue with the report’s conclusions, and told Senators, “My best military judgment does not agree with the study assessment that the short-term risk to military effectiveness is low.” Schwartz, however, said that repeal should go forward, but beginning in 2012 – a year after the scheduled military disengagement from Afghanistan.
U.S. Army chief General George Casey added to Schwartz’s assessment, saying, “Implementation of repeal of DADT in the near term will: one, add another level of stress to an already stretched force; two, be more difficult in combat arms; and three, be more difficult for the Army than the report suggests.”