Connect with us

DADT: President Obama, Your Opinion Matters, Please Clarify.

Published

on

Editor’s note:

This guest post by Scott Wooledge was originally published at Daily Kos today and is published here with his permission. Scott Wooledge writes at the Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.

Mr President,

There’s a matter your administration has been asked about many times, but still your position remains unclear. Your Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked again yesterday in the White House briefing room. Reporters from The Advocate and the Washington Blade pressed Gibbs on a very specific question.

Does [Defense Secretary Gates’ letter last Friday] mean the president is ruling out an endorsement of repeal this year as part of the defense authorization bill?

Gibbs: Let me get some guidance on that. I don’t know the answer to that.

I’m a little confused why your administration still seems confused. Why is the White House is still not sure of on its feelings about a plan that according to Barney Frank has been on the table since at least November, 2009? Since taking office, your administration has had 15 months to consider legislative strategy for DADT repeal.

[A video of the awkward exchange can be found here.] Why does Gibbs have to check and get back to people still? This wasn’t a new question to the administration. Not even within the time frame of this very week. There was an uproard on Friday that your adminstration was asked to respond to. The Associated Press reported that your Secretary of Defense attempted to shut down Congressional efforts to repeal DADT in this legislative session.

In a strongly worded letter obtained by The Associated Press, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told the House Armed Services Committee that forcing policy changes on the military before it’s ready would be a mistake.

So many people appropriately assumed, surely Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates is speaking on behalf of the administration. But then, the White House response that very same evening was confusing, not clarifying:

The President’s commitment to repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is unequivocal. This is not a question of if, but how. That’s why we’ve said that the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed.  The President is committed to getting this done both soon and right.

No one is questioning you want to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Indeed, we agree, the question is indeed “how,” as in, what legislative strategy do you endorse? The prevailing wisdom is that attaching it to the military spending budget this month is the most efficient plan that ensures its successful passage. But your statement neither confirms not denies your support for this plan. By “soon” do you mean in the month of May? Please clear up what “soon” means.

One reason many people are confused is because there has been much reporting and signs that you are actually opposed to repealing DADT in 2010. At one point, Barney Frank declared outright “That’s because they don’t want it done this year, not because they want it done separately.” Frank later said he “misspoke.” But he’s stood by his assessment that your administration is “ducking” the issue and their message is “muddled about when we should move.”

Some of the mixed messaging we’re receiving:

• Administration Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has sent letters to Congress stating administration opposition to Congress acting in 2010. Source.

• Administration Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spoke from the White House Press podium and was reported as opposing a vote to repeal in 2010. Source.

• White House correspondent Kerry Eleveld has reported, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina told repeal advocates in a meeting just four days after the State of the Union address, repeal was not going to happen in 2010. Source.

• White House has not invited Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the most powerful, credible and vocal lobbying organization on the DADT issue, to talks about repeal for more than a year. Source.

•White House has tasked its Congressional liaisons with telling members of Congress “No vote in 2010.” Source.

You’re the President of the United States, your opinion matters a great deal. You are the leader of our country. You are the leader of the Democratic party.  Your Secretary of Defense has instructed Congress not to attach the repeal language to the Defense Authorization Bill in the month of May. Many others disagree, among them Governor Howard Dean, Senators Carl Levin (MI), Joe Lieberman (CT), Mark Udall (CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Reps Nancy Pelosi (CA), Patrick Murphy (PA), Barney Frank (MA), Jarod Polis (CO), and all the Veterans and LGBT advocacy groups that would appreciate having a voice in the matter.

And the fact remains, the administration still has never declared definitively, publicly, you do want repeal legislation to move forward in 2010. Barney Frank has said.

“His not being for it will give people an excuse to not vote for it. … the President’s refusal to call for repeal this year is a problem.”

 title=

Many people are confused on what to think. Just a few months ago, you stood before Congress and the nation and you said,

“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”

Because now—the month of May—is the time to “work with Congress” and the moment is passing very quickly.

As Governor Howard Dean said, appearing on MSNBC’s the Rundown on May 4, “There’s no reason not to do this” and attaching it to the Defense Authorization Act—this month—is the way to go. The video is below, the segment begins at the 4:15 mark.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

“There’s no reason not to do this. And we have a vehicle. Carl Levin thinks he’s got the votes for this on the Defense Authorization Act, and the Defense Authorization Act has to pass. The Republicans are not going to filibuster the Defense Authorization Act, so I think now is the time. We may not have the votes for this in six months, so we have to do this now.”

Can you please help change Carl Levin’s assessment from “he thinks he has the votes” into “”he KNOWS he has the votes?”  Frankly, we don’t see any evidence of you doing any work with Congress.

Can you please tell us if you’ve called Jim Webb and asked him, personally, for his support? You were not shy about asking the LGBT community for their support 2007 and 2008. Can you tell us if you’ve called Evan Bayh and told him he’d have the party’s eternal gratitude for helping out? Can you tell us if you’ve appealed to Robert Byrd that he can help usher in a new era of diversity and inclusiveness? Have you made a bipartisan appeal to Scott Brown?

Have you called Ike Skelton and asked him what the party can do to for him ifhe’d please stop fighting Patrick Murphy’s attempts to attach repeal in the House Military Spending Budget?

If you are, indeed, supportive of repeal in 2010, I call upon you to state so clearly in public from the bully pulpit you command and without any ambiguity or confusion. If you oppose it, your honesty would also be appreciated, and your friends and allies in fighting for repeal would like to hear an alternate plan articulated that we can consider.

Thank you.

 title=

To raise awareness to the need for Presidential leadership, DADT repeal activists have launched “Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama.”The new media campaign launched in partnership with Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network,is intended to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law.  We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.  The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk.  It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.  By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes!  We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.

Participating blogs: 365 Gay, The Advocate, AfterElton, AmericaBlog , Ameriqueer, AKAWilliam, The Bilerico Project, BoxTurtleBulletin, BrandFabulousness, The Daily Kos, David In Manhattan, David Mixner, Fired Up Missouri, GoodAsYou, HRCBackStory, Kenneth In The 212, Lez Get Real, LGBTPOV, Michael in Norfolk, Mike Gets Real, Mile High Gay Guy, Open Left, Page One Q, Pam’s House Blend, RepealNow, SayenCroWolf, Seattle PI Stepforward, Signorile’s The Gist, The New Civil Rights Movement, The Queer Times, Towleroad, We Give A Damn.

Today’s Letter: 9/11 Patriot: “The Army taught me honesty and integrity, then forced me to lie.”

 title=

May 6, 2010

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Anthony Moll and I am a bisexual veteran.

I served for eight years under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that has failed our nation.   I left the service just 10 weeks ago, and I can now say: this is the time, Mr. President, to push ahead and end this law.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is just a couple weeks away from holding a key vote on including repeal in the Defense budget.  The vote will be close.  Please, do whatever you can.

I have been proud to serve my country since joining the Army shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001.  My proudest moment was raising my hand and volunteering to serve our country in its time of need.

When I enlisted in 2002, I knew what DADT said, but nothing could prepare me for what it meant.

I had never been closeted about my sexual orientation so joining meant not only keeping quiet, but also being asked to lie to those whom already knew.  While my leaders were instilling the values of honesty and integrity in me, the law in place was forcing me to do the opposite.

I knew that despite serving with distinction as a military police officer protecting fellow soldiers and their families from harm, I could face expulsion.  During my service I was hand-picked as a Phoenix Raven, an Air Force program in which only a handful of soldiers are asked to participate.

While serving as a handler in the military’s working dog program, I worked with the Secret Service in detecting explosives – working to protect you.

In 2008, I was recognized as my installation’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year and Joint Service Member of the Year.  Despite this distinction, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law treated me as a second-class citizen.

While I excelled at every turn, this law forced me to be dishonest with my peers, my friends and my community.  Our nation’s heroes should not be forced to carry the burden of serving in silence when we need our troops keenly focused on their missions.

In the meantime, I’m not sitting on the sidelines.  I am now working at the Human Rights Campaign on its efforts to repeal DADT now.  But advocacy alone won’t change the status quo.

Mr. President, tell Congress to move on repeal.  Please allow my brothers and sisters-in-arms to live up to the Army values of respect, honor and integrity.  Don’t let another life be ruined by a failed policy that hurts our nation as well as our heroes.

Mr. President, lift the ban.

Respectfully,

Former Staff Sergeant Anthony Moll

United States Army

CALL TO ACTION!

Fate of repeal will be decided in the next 30 days. As time grows short, repeal advocates have multiple strategies are in place. One thing they all share is a need to hear from the public the time is now. Now is the time for LGBT allies to get off the fence and call for equality for their fellow Americans.

• Contact the White House: The Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network has put out an action item: Not Another Year. They are asking people to call the White House and tell our Commander in Chief to call for repeal in 2010, repeal can’t wait until 2011. The moment is now. They say: “Our Congressional allies are not giving up. SLDN isn’t giving up. Tell President Obama not to give up either. Call the White House today. (202) 456-1414

• Contact your Senators: Tell them to support adding repeal to the Senate Defense Spending Budget: these Senators are most key: Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Robert Byrd and Scott Brown. But call them all. Show them there’s a grassroots movement to vote now. SLDN contact tool here.

• Contact your House Representatives: Tell them to support Representative Patrick Murphy’s plan to offer DADT repeal legislation as a floor amendment to the military bill. SLDN contact tool here.

• Contact Senate Armed Services Committee Chairmain Carl Levin (D-MI) and tell him Military Budget Attachment is the way to go. His office in Washington can be reached at: (202) 224-6221

• Become a citizen co-sponsor of repeal at Senator Udall’s site.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him

Published

on

The Fox News host who targeted a juror serving on Donald Trump’s criminal New York trial is now suggesting the ex-president should violate his gag order and “force” the court to throw him in jail, by quoting the Fox News host.

Jesse Watters came under fire earlier this week for profiling juror number two, sharing possibly identifying information published by a myriad of reporters but then using that information to pass judgment on her ability to serve.

“I’m not so sure about juror number two,” Watters concluded on Fox News.

Jurors, at the judge’s direction, were to remain anonymous, for their protection and the protection of the trial.

The judge excused her, after she said she felt she was not able to be impartial because friends and family were calling her asking if she had been chosen to serve on the Trump trial, after the media blitz.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan admonished the press for reporting the information, but some news outlets appeared to ignore his warning.

Watters on Wednesday “did a segment with a jury consultant, revealing details about people who had been seated on the jury and questioning whether some were ‘stealth liberals’ who would be out to convict Trump,” the Associated Press reported.

READ MORE: Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Trump later posted Watters’ quote on his Truth Social platform, leading some, including New York prosecutors, to ask the judge to cite him for allegedly breaking his gag order.

Judge Merchan ordered Trump to not mention witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff, or the family members of prosecutors and court staff, CNN has reported.

New York prosecutors told Juge Merchan Trump has violated the gag order at least ten times.

“Prosecutor Christopher Conroy described the ‘most disturbing’ example as a social media message Trump posted on Wednesday evening quoting a Fox News host as saying, ‘They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,'” Politico reports.

That host was Jesse Watters.

RELATED: ‘Afraid and Intimidated’: Trump Trial Juror Targeted by Fox News Dismissed

Friday afternoon, Watters appeared to egg Trump on, urging the ex-president to violate the gag order.

“I would make them put me in jail,” Watters said on Fox News. “I would have a tweet about something perhaps I said on ‘The Five’ or ‘Jesse Watters Primetime,’ and I would force them to throw me in jail.”

Watch Watters’ remark below or at this link.

 

Continue Reading

News

Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

Published

on

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says some of his fellow House Republicans would “take a bribe” to throw the razor-thin GOP majority to the Democrats if a far-right faction calls up a motion to oust Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, allowing Democrats to hand the gavel to the Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries. he warned if that happens, Democrats would immediately declare Trump ineligible to be President, pack the U.S. Supreme Court, and pass numerous laws like the American Rescue Plan.

“I do believe in a one seat majority there could be one or two or three of my colleagues who would take a bribe in one form or another in order to deprive the Republicans of a majority at all,” Gaetz said Friday on his podcast (video below.)

He added, “the risk that one or two of my corrupt Republican colleagues might take a bribe, take a walk, feign an ailment and flip this thing to the Democrats is a risk that is too high for me at this time.”

Gaetz’s fellow far-right Florida Republican member of Congress, Anna Paulina Luna, told listeners, “I heard that when, if and when the motion vacate is introduced, that there will be immediate resignations of a couple of more moderate members of Congress. And in the event that that happens, that ultimately means it does go to a Democrat speaker.”

RELATED: Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last month filed a “motion to vacate,” which she can use at any time to force a vote to oust the GOP Speaker, Mike Johnson. U.S. Rep. Tim Massie (R-KY) and just today, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has signed on as co-sponsors.

Congressman Gaetz told listeners if Democrats do take the House through a force vote to remove Johnson, Democrats would “be declaring Donald Trump an insurrectionist and setting up a barrier to him being able to become the president United States.”

“That’ll be their leadoff hitter, and then the chaser to that shot will be a massive spending package that looks a lot more like the American Rescue Plan. They will blow past every concept of every cap ever imagined. You’ll be looking at Universal Basic Income, you could be looking at packing the Supreme Court.”

Watch a short clip of Gaetz’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

Continue Reading

News

Jeffries Vows Democrats Will Ensure Ukraine Aid Passes as Johnson Defectors Grow

Published

on

Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed Friday the majority of Democrats will support Republicans’ Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and Gaza foreign aid legislation as Republican Speaker Mike Johnson lost support of another member of his conference to a faction determined to oust him.

“Democrats will provide a majority of our majority as it relates to funding Israel, humanitarian assistance, Ukraine, and our allies in the Indo Pacific,” Minority Leader Jeffries said. “It remains to be seen what Republicans will do in terms of meeting the national security needs of the American people, but it was important for House Democrats to ensure that the national security bills are going to be considered.”

Despite Republicans having a one-vote majority, more Democrats on Friday voted to move the critical and long-awaited foreign aid bills forward than did Republicans.

READ MORE: ‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

The 316-94 vote included 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans voting yes, and 55 Republicans and 39 Democrats voting no.

Axios’ Juliegrace Brufke posted the list of Republicans voting against their party’s legislation.

Calling it a “rare” moment in modern congressional history to have to rely on opposition party votes to pass legislation, BBC News reports Speaker Johnson’s “hold on power is tenuous, and the legislators who oppose him – and his bid to provide aid to Ukraine – occupy some key positions within the House’s power structure.”

Amid the procedural vote to move the foreign aid funding bills forward, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Republican of Arizona, announced he is joining Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Congressman Tim Massie (R-KY) in formally announcing their will vote to oust Speaker Johnson.

Gosar, like Greene, is reportedly a Christian nationalist. In 2022 CNN reported his “lengthy ties to White nationalists, [a] pro-Nazi blogger and far-right fringe received little pushback for years.”

RELATED: ‘Repercussions’: Democrats and Republicans Stand Against ‘Pro-Putin’ House GOP Faction

“We’ve been very honest in our assessment of the situation from the beginning,” Jeffries on Friday also declared. “At the appropriate time as House Democrats, we will have a conversation about how to deal with any hypothetical motion to vacate.”

“Moscow Marjorie Taylor Greene, Massie, and Gosar are quite a group. But central to our conversation is to make sure that the national security legislation in totality is passed by the House of Representatives.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.