Blog of Rights

The Struggle to Repeal DADT Continues

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:48pm

Last week, the U.S. Senate tried — and failed — to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, preventing the repeal of the discriminatory and unconstitutional "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy from advancing in the Senate — despite the support of a majority of senators and the personal pleas of President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. The Senate missed an historic opportunity to finally end this unjust and unfair policy. However, we may get another chance — and sooner than you think.

Following the vote, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced a stand-alone bill that would repeal DADT. As of today, this legislation (S. 4023) has bipartisan support, with 40 senators cosponsoring. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he intends to attempt to bring this legislation to the floor before the end of the year. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House of Representatives stands ready to pass the new DADT repeal bill as soon as the Senate passes it, leaving the possibility open that DADT could still be repealed this year! The fight continues, and senators need to hear it loud and clear from the American people: We want this senseless discrimination to end this year!

Those service members who are gay and lesbian — and are willingly risking their lives in our armed forces — deserve nothing less than the integrity that comes from being able to serve their nation with honesty. There is absolutely no excuse for failing to act. As Adm. Mullen so eloquently stated in testimony before Congress recently, "I would not recommend repeal of this law if I did not believe in my soul that it was the right thing to do for our military, for our nation and for our collective honor."

The ACLU remains fully committed to ending DADT and will continue to fight, both legislatively and in the courts , to ensure that our nation's service members are able to serve with honesty and integrity. If Congress fails to live up to its responsibility to repeal this law by year’s end, we, and our allies, will not waver from bringing challenges to DADT in the courts. Our service members deserve nothing less. As Secretary Gates recently stated in testimony before Congress, “Given the present circumstances, those who choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts.”

There is simply no excuse for further delay. Please join with the ACLU in telling Congress to get the job done this year. Repeal DADT NOW!

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