Blog of Rights

Sen. McCain, Enough with Stonewalling the DADT Repeal

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:20pm

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pre-emptively attacked an as-yet-to-be-released Pentagon study exploring the views and attitudes of active-duty and reserve service members, as well as military families, on a possible repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The report is also supposed to explore how best to implement a repeal of the discriminatory and unconstitutional policy.

While the actual study will not be published until December 1, key details were reported by the Washington Post late last week. The Post headline pretty much said it all — “Sources: Pentagon group finds there is minimal risk to lifting gay ban during war.”

The article reported:

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report's authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.
Judging by his over-reaction, the report seemed to unnerve Sen. McCain. The senator from Arizona has long argued on the floor of the Senate that there should be no action to repeal DADT until the completion of the Pentagon study. Now that details of the study are emerging that seem to conflict with McCain’s opposition to repeal, he is attempting to belittle the findings and call for further study and congressional hearings. All of this simply shows that Sen. McCain’s real goal is to delay, delay, and delay until the clock runs out, because the chances of advancing a legislative repeal in the upcoming 112th Congress are significantly smaller.

These stonewalling tactics should not be allowed to delay action on DADT repeal any longer. The latest Pentagon findings reflect previous polls of service members and the American public, which consistently find large majorities either in favor of or ambivalent about repeal. Sen. McCain’s views on this issue are outside the mainstream, and are not even reflected in his own household. His daughter Meghan has spoken out against DADT and called for its repeal. Sen. McCain would do well to heed her advice.

Please join with the ACLU in urging Congress to act and vote to repeal DADT this year. There is no reason and no excuse for delay. All who are willing to risk their lives in our armed forces should be allowed to serve with honesty and integrity.

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