On Monday, Sept. 12, House Republicans made what appears to be a last-ditch effort at halting or stalling the Sept. 20 repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- though advocates of repeal say the move is unlikely to result in any delay.
Writing that House Armed Services Committee "officials have requested, but not received, copies of the revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes, especially with regard to benefits, that will take effect upon repeal," the committee chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Personnel subcommittee chairman, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-N.C.), write that they "believe it is essential that [Defense Secretary Leon Panetta] take immediate action to delay the implementation of repeal."
Citing the review and comment period required for the regulatory changes due to be put forward on Sept. 20, McKeon and Wilson argue that "decisions on the policies and regulations to implement repeal are not complete and that your certification and those of the others were inaccurate."
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network exective director Aubrey Sarvis disputed their comments, saying in a statement, "On the substance, Mr. McKeon and Mr. Wilson are simply wrong. The statute only requires that the new regulations be prepared -- not issued – before certification."
The certification required under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act was signed on July 22 by Panetta, President Obama and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and attests that the Defense Department has "prepared the necessary policies and regulations" to implement repeal and that the implementation of those policies and regulations are "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces."
Sarvis added, "This is another example of the hardcore opposition attempting to delay or undo 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal. I expect they will continue to look for openings to deny gay and lesbian service members the same rights and dignity as their straight counterparts."
In a news release blasting the letter, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said, "This is a desperate move by extremist House members to continue to discriminate against gay and lesbian service members in our military. Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' passed Congress last year. The President signed it into law. The Pentagon prepared for implementation and allowed for a 60 day transition process. Wide majorities of Americans support allowing gay and lesbians to serve openly."
Solmonoese concluded, "It is time to finally end this discriminatory law, and moves to stall will be seen by Americans for what they are -- homophobic attempts to prevent the military from continuing down the path of full equality."
Read the letter: McKeon-Wilson.pdf
[Photo: Gen. Peter Chairelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, April 7, 2011. (Photo by Chris Geidner.)]