Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen and newly sworn-in Secretary of Defense Panetta certified today that the US military is trained and prepared for open service by out homosexual servicemembers.
So, bye-bye DADT, right?
No. Not yet.
There are a number of steps, each of them a trap embedded in the enabling repeal legislation, still ahead. It’s important that allies and supporters know this, and it’s critically important that all servicemembers understand that DADT is still the law.
Open service is still prohibited in the US military.
Tom Carpenter at LGBT-POV helpfully points the way through the minefield ahead:
There’s still the 60-day waiting period mandated by the DADT Repeal Act of 2010. It is unclear why this condition was placed in the legislation. Many believe it was demanded by the late Sen. Robert Byrd to insure his vote to get this skeletal bill through the senior chamber of Congress. Sadly, Sen. Byrd had passed away when the final vote on the Repeal Act was taken and his replacement, Sen. Manchin, was out of town attending a family event when that critical vote was taken.
We know the statute requires the Executive-trio to certify to Congress that they have considered the Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) report and proposed plan of action and that the Department of Defense (DOD) has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the repeal. Finally, they must certify that implementation of such policies and regulations are consistent with the standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and military recruiting and retention. Until such time as all these conditions are met, DADT remains in effect.
What’s the 60-day waiting period all about, you ask? Funny, that — especially given the change of House control to the teabaggers this January and the newly up-armored House Armed Services Committee:
These are the same people who now control the most conservative committee in the House of Representatives, the HASC. The one and only hearing they have held on DADT, since taking the majority in the House, was to review the progress the military had made in training the force. As I reported on April 21, 2011, they were not happy the Chiefs all testified that training was going well and the force would be prepared to implement this change in personnel policy on schedule.
So now the ball is back in their court. What should we expect?
The Republicans control the HASC. Lead by Buck McKeon, (R-CA) a conservative Mormon who will be aided by the Chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee, none other that Republican Joe “You Lie!” Wilson (R-SC) – all you have to do is look at a few of the other committee members to anticipate what they will be up to.
Carpenter does an excellent job describing the other no-goodniks the GOP has assigned to this committee and the likelihood of the political barricades they’ll put in front of open service to feed their constituents’ anger: read his whole article here.
He concludes with this warning:
To everyone who thinks DADT – and its vestiges – is dead and there is nothing else to do, to ensure LGB service members are treated equally to their straight brothers and sisters in arms, think again.
So, no — we’re not there yet.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network repeats the warning to those serving in silence AND their on-duty knowing allies:
STILL AT RISK: Despite the certification issued today, it is still unsafe for service members to come out until September 20, 2011, when repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will become final. Click here to read our warning to service members.