White House, Pentagon and Congress Outline Consensus Legislative Option
WASHINGTON - The ban on open military service by lesbian and gay Americans is on a path to repeal this week with the White House, Pentagon leaders and Congress outlining a process that includes votes in the House and Senate as early as Thursday. Legislation to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be considered as amendments to the National Defense Authorization bill - the same vehicle by which the law was enacted 17 years ago. The Obama administration endorsed the approach today in a letter to Congressional leaders from Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.
"We are on the brink of historic action to both strengthen our military and respect the service of lesbian and gay troops," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "Today's announcement paves the path to fulfill the President's call to end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' this year and puts us one step closer to removing this stain from the laws of our nation."
The proposal would allow Congress to vote to repeal the current DADT law now with implementation to follow upon completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1, 2010. The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would need to certify that implementation policies and regulations are prepared and that they are consistent with standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. The plan therefore addresses concerns expressed by the Pentagon that the implementation study process be respected.
"Without a repeal vote by Congress this year, the Pentagon's hands are tied and the armed forces will be forced to continue adhering to the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law," said Solmonese. "A solution has emerged: Congress needs to vote to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' now."
The leadership of Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn. along with the White House, has been critical to setting the stage for these votes.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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