HRC Blog

Republican Lawmakers Make One Last Desperate Effort to Stall Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

House Republicans are making one last attempt to stall implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, scheduled for next Tuesday. Republican House members Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking him to delay implementation. According to McKeon and Wilson, the House Armed Services Committee has yet to receive all requested copies of regulation and policy changes associated with repeal, particularly as they pertain to benefits.

The Pentagon says repeal implementation will move forward as scheduled, and is reiterating that the certification process was rigorous and conducted fully in accordance with the law passed last December. The certification process required the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the President to sign off on updated regulations that ensured implementation was consistent with standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion and retention of the armed forces. President Obama signed certification on July 22.

The irony of McKeon and Wilson’s inquiry into benefit changes is that, unfortunately, gay and lesbian service members still will lack access to a wide array of benefits available to straight service members and their loved ones. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the military from extending a number of benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members, such as health insurance benefits. Other limitations include regulations related to military family housing, access to legal services, spousal relocation support and an adequate infrastructure to process incidents of discrimination and harassment against gay and lesbian service members.

McKeon and Wilson’s attempt to stall implementation could be seen as a harbinger of the obstacles full equality in the military faces moving forward. Fair-minded legislators can help achieve greater equality by tackling several key areas, including:

  • Opposing discriminatory legislative actions brought by anti-LGBT lawmakers,
  • Supporting the Respect for Marriage Act as a means of ending the discriminatory DOMA law,
  • Providing oversight of military personnel decisions related to DADT repeal, particularly as they pertain to the extension and fair application of benefits,
  • Reviewing the barriers to transgender individuals serving in the military,
  • And repealing Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which criminalizes intimacy between same-sex couples.

Yesterday, HRC put out guidance on how legislators can aid efforts to advance full equality in the military. Learn more at www.hrc.org/beyondrepeal.

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