The Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal again hangs in the balance: Today, the House votes on a standalone bill, but it's unclear what the Senate will do. Meanwhile, Dan Choi has been hospitalized, and the Marine Commandant is talking shit.
To recap, Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins have a standalone bill that would repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, separate from the Defense Authorization Bill repeal was previously tacked onto. The House, which already voted for the previous repeal language, is dutifully voting on its own version of the bill to make it that much easier for the recalcitrant Senate. (Why are we not surprised Nancy Pelosi's got this one?).
The problem is that the legislative calendar is crammed with other priorities, and Harry Reid just now stood on the Senate floor and freaked out gay rights supporters by mentioning everything but DADT — the omnibus spending bill and START among them. And if he doesn't hustle to get a vote, that's it for legislative repeal for the foreseeable future.
One person who continues not to help is Marine Commandant James Amos, who openly disagrees with Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen about repeal. Referring to repeal, he said in a press briefing yesterday, "When your life hangs on a line, on the intuitive behavior of the young man ... who sits to your right and your left, you don't want anything distracting you," adding that "mistakes and inattention or distractions cost marines' lives." Oh, also:
When pressed to explain exactly what a breakdown of "unit cohesion" could look like and why it would endanger Marines in combat, or the larger war effort, Amos said he was unsure but that the significant concern of breakdown was good enough for him.
"I can't explain what the expectations are. I can't explain what they think might happen," Amos said.
I'm convinced! (Notably, 77 percent of Americans in a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll aren't — they support repeal.)
Here's another question: How is actively having to live a lie not a distraction? How is the fear of being exposed and discharged not an additional toll on people already under tremendous stress on our country's behalf?
Case in point: Dan Choi, who came out on The Rachel Maddow Show and became the most visible figure against Don't Ask Don't Tell. He may or may not have planned to be an activist, but the stress has clearly gotten to him. He wrote to Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend that he has been hospitalized in a VA mental health facility:
I did not initially want to publicize this but I now realize it is critical for our community to know several things: veterans gay or straight carry human burdens, Activists share similar burdens, no activist should be portrayed as super human, and the failures of government and national lobbying carry consequences far beyond the careers and reputations of corporate leaders, elected officials, High powered lobbyists, or political elites. They ruin lives. My breakdown was a result of a cumulative array of stressors but there is no doubt that the composite betrayals felt on Thursday, by elected leaders and gay organizations as well as many who have exploited my name for their marketing purposes have added to the result. I am certain my experience is not an isolated incident within the gay veteran community.
At the same time, those who have been closest to me know that I truly appreciate their gracious help and mentorship. I am indebted to their hospitality and leadership.
If you could share the info and sentiment I'd be most grateful.
It's clear that legalized discrimination is the real "distraction."
House Dems Will Introduce Stand Alone DADT Repeal Bill [WP]
Dan Choi Hospitalized [Pam's House Blend]
House To Vote Wednesday On Don't Ask Repeal [Politico]
Most Back Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell [WP]
Marine Commandant Concluded DADT Repeal May Risk Lives