HRC Blog

The Road to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal

VoiceOfHonor-v2Now that the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have stated their support for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the pressure must increase on all fronts to abolish this discriminatory law.  The path forward has always been the Department of Defense Authorization bill -- which was the birthplace of DADT in 1993 -- and it will move through Congress as early as April and be on the President's desk by year's end. Repeal faces serious opposition as signaled by Sen. John McCain's response to the Gates/Mullen testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Nonetheless, with support from the current military leadership as well as former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, former Vice President and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and other military leaders, now is the time to finally abolish "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Guiding our work over the next months will be a number of key principles:

  • Continued Presidential Leadership

We have -- and will continue to -- call on the White House to include DADT repeal language in the 2011 Department of Defense authorization bill.  HRC Legislative Director Allison Herwitt made that clear in this story by the DC Agenda on Jan. 11.

  • Congressional Action in 2010

We believe that legislative action must run on a parallel track with the work of the DOD implementation review.  We have -- and will continue to -- press the Senate to include repeal language in the final mark up of this year's DOD authorization bill.

  • Gates/Mullen review

While the testimony of Gates and Mullen marked a historic and extraordinary move towards final repeal of DADT, HRC is advocating that the announced review is comprehensive and expeditious, and includes input from lesbian and gay service members and veterans.  We will work to ensure the Working Group established by Secretary Gates will have all the data and information necessary to address any and all implementation issues.

  • Strategic Partnerships

HRC will continue to partner with key groups and Congressional allies working toward repeal including the Center for American Progress, Servicemembers United and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.  By continuing to pool our resources, contacts and intelligence, we can meet the opposition head on and build even greater momentum for repeal.

  • Voices of Veterans

HRC's "Voices of Honor" campaign is organizing veterans across the country to generate media, grassroots and grass tops pressure in key states that will be critical to the final votes in the House and Senate.  The campaign builds on the work of the national "Voices of Honor Tour" last summer which led to 30 new Congressional co-sponsors and garnered national media attention to this discriminatory law. To take action on this critical issue, visit our Voices of Honor site at

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