Top military officials are doing their part to pressure the Senate to lift Don't Ask Don't Tell in the lameduck session — because otherwise, the courts probably will. Will it work?
This weekend, Pentagon brass implicitly reminded everyone that they'd signed on to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell months ago. They said they would release its report on how a repeal would affect troops one day early, to make it that much easier for the Senate to squeeze it in. And Admiral Mike Mullen and Secretary Robert Gates also gave interviews warning that Don't Ask Don't Tell could go by the legislative path — which would allow for an orderly unwinding — or it could be dismantled by the courts, which they implied would be chaotic.
Said Gates in Bolivia, "The timing and the legislative approach and so on, that is completely up to the Congress. All I know is if this law is going to change, it's better to be changed by legislation rather than have it struck down by the courts." And Mullen said on This Week, "The courts are very active on this. And my concern is that at some point in time the courts could change this law and in that not give us the right amount of time to implement it." He also said the policy "goes counter to who we are as an institution." (A big chunk of the Marines, going right up to the top, still disagrees.)
Odds are that they're right about the courts — that Log Cabin Republican case is before the Ninth Circuit, and may make it to the Supreme Court. If that's how DADT goes, the victory would be chalked up to the Log Cabin Republicans, a group no one ever took seriously before, and Obama would have nothing to show the base in the way of victories. Moreover, everyone would be blaming activist judges; going the Senate route, at least some moderate Republicans would have to sign on to the repeal to make it work.
Will they? The numbers are unforgiving. Some Republican Senators, like Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski, and Dick Lugar, say they'd be willing to consider voting for it if they were allowed to sneak in amendments. Scott Brown, Jim Webb, and George Voinovich could come around. And then there are the two pseudo-Democrats from Arkansas. It would mean Harry Reid would have to expend a lot of time and capital, and we'll see if even that will be enough.
Pentagon To Issue Report On Gays In Military November 30 [Reuters]
Pentagon Trying to Get Gay Ban Lifted This Year [AP]
'Don't Ask' Study To Be Released A Day Earlier Than Planned [WP]
Is Don't Ask Repeal DOA? [Daily Caller]