UPDATE: It’s been reported this afternoon that 68 House members including Jared Polis signed this letter. Read more at Pam’s House Blend. Keep up the pressure!
Rep. Jared Polis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the Obama administration asking them not to appeal District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’ ruling on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We need to put pressure on our senators and representatives and ask them to sign on to the letters, which are circulating right now.
When you call, tell them about the letter and ask why they have not signed it. The House has already voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so a majority of their members should support this letter, right? It’s a more dicey situation on the Senate side, but doing this could not only pressure the President but it could allow the Senate to act more quickly for repeal.
Gillibrand’s letter reads:
Dear Mr. Attorney General,
We are writing to bring to your attention the recently issued decision of Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the United States District Court of the Central District of California in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declared that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) underlying law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech, thereby rendering DADT unconstitutional. In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or any permanent injunction which may be granted against this law in the near future.
The following quote from the judge’s decision captures the overwhelming reason why the decision should stand: “Among those discharged were many with critically needed skills … Far from furthering the military’s readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest.” As one of many criteria that the Justice Department will examine in deciding whether to appeal a potential permanent injunction to this policy, we ask that you examine whether or not an appeal furthers a legitimate governmental interest. We would say any appeal does not. . . .
Additionally, DADT harms military readiness, as well as the morale and the cohesiveness of our armed forces, at a time when our military’s resources are strained and unity is critically important. For every person discharged after ten years of service, six new servicemembers would need to be recruited to recover the level of experience lost by that discharge. This not only weakens our military, but neither is it an effective use of our government resources or taxpayer monies.
President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have all publicly advocated for the repeal of this harmful law. There is no legal or military justification and not one shred of credible evidence that supports continuing the discriminatory DADT law, and considering the guidance of the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top two defense officials, we urge you to refrain from seeking an appeal. The federal court decision was a step in the right direction, and we are confident that the Senate will take the ultimate step by voting this fall on the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to permanently lift the ban on gays in the military. Although we understand that only action by Congress can bring real finality to this issue, we believe an appeal of the recent federal court decision could set back those congressional efforts. Therefore, we request your assistance in ensuring that we can eradicate this discriminatory law permanently and urge the Justice Department to choose not to appeal any court decision that would keep this law in place.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to hearing from you.
And Polis’ letter reads, in part:
Mr. President, in this critical time when military readiness is paramount we must recognize the importance of every linguist, flight nurse and infantryman. As you announced our official end of combat operations in Iraq we must prepare for what is to come. To stay above the rest, to remain the most formidable military force in the world, we must innovate, change and grow. As we update our weaponry and strategy, so too must we open our policy to encourage as much cohesiveness and camaraderie as possible. In the military where lives rely on trust and determination, DADT represents neither.
We consider this matter a top priority to our service members, the American people and the security of the United States. We acknowledge and appreciate your support and hope that together we can end this dishonorable policy once and for all. We hope that you, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Services, will take this opportunity to restore integrity to our military and decline to appeal Judge Phillips’ ruling.
We are feeling hopeless right now, mostly because of the Senate’s inaction on DADT repeal and the recent vote to continue the filibuster. This is a chance to do something, to lobby our senators and congresspeople to pressure this administration to act in our favor. This is a way that we can "make them do it."
I don’t know if it will work or not, but it’s worth a try. So will you help us by calling your senators and reps today? Just a few quick seconds on the phone with these people, along with several emails, could change the trajectory of gay rights in this administration. I think it’s worth it.
Scottie Thomaston (indiemcemopants) is a 26-year-old Alabama blogger who has written about politics on various blogs since age seventeen. A disabled, ‘out’ gay man, his principal themes have been LGBT rights, torture, NSA spying and the challenges of disability. His pieces have appeared on Daily Kos (where he also moderates a community series on disability), Firedoglake; and on his own blog, "Ignorance is…" The quality of his writing earned him a 2010 Netroots Nation scholarship from Democracy For America and a citation in the New York Times Opinionator column. He is actively building his career as a professional new media journalist.
You can find him on Twitter: @indiemcemopants