We are inching closer…

As you know, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a major issue in the United States and more importantly, my own family.  (If you don’t remember my previous post you can read it here).  Recently a Federal Court ruled that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unconstitutional.  (For an analysis of the ruling, go here)  This is really amazing, unfortunately there is much more that needs to happen.

When I wrote Uncle Alan on Sunday about the ruling, this was what he responded to me:

This was clearly a judicial victory, but it is alas very far from the last word. The whole ball game is going to be decided in the next two weeks in the Senate. We need to have the Defense Authorization Bill, with the DADT repeal amendment intact and unaltered (which is the major risk) passed, and then DADT will almost be done. If the Senate passes that bill, then everything depends on whether the Pentagon Study findings show that implementation will not be a problem (which I expect them to do). After that, it will take a few more months to implement, so that if everything goes as we want, DADT will be gone by next Spring.

This judicial decision is nice, but it has a long way to go (ultimately to the Supreme Court), which will take many years. It will, however, be our last chance if the Senate doesn’t act favorably, or if they fail to take up the Defense Bill before the elections. If the Senate doesn’t act before the elections, there’s no doubt DADT won’t get repealed legislatively, as the Republicans will gain so many seats in the House and Senate that it will likely be impossible to recreate the current majority votes in favor of repeal we now have. Thus, the judicial pathway will be all that’s left to us for a long time — and given the conservative nature of the Supreme Court, a victory there is far from certain either. Sigh.

It will be greatly helpful though, in any event, if the Pentagon’s Study shows the stupidity of the current law — it will likely do that. That might be all we end up getting, if things break badly for us.

Sorry to be less than totally optimistic — but the politics of this is what dictates my outlook. McCain and his ilk are the real problem in the Senate. I don’t think they have enough votes to successfully filibuster, but they could try to get the repeal amendment taken out of the Defense Authorization Bill (I don’t think there’s enough votes to do that either), or they could try to alter the bill (any change whatsoever, even just a punctuation mark change, would require the repeal amendment to go back to the House for a Conference Committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions), and because the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee opposes repeal of DADT, we’d be outvoted in Conference Committee 3-1. So it’s crucial that the amendment remain totally unchanged. The best option the Republican opponents have is to propose a seemingly reasonable amendment — something like requiring all the military Chiefs of Staff to sign-off on the Pentagon Study findings (instead of the current requirement where only the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, SecDef and President have to sign-off on it) – so they might pry away some fence-sitting conservative Democrats or moderate Republicans away from their previous commitment to the current version of the amendment — thus requiring the Conference Committee action, and thus killing the repeal effort.

So that’s the complicated political lay of the land at the moment. First up, though, is convincing Senator Reid to bring the Defense Authorization Bill to the floor for a vote.

Please pay attention to what is happening about this vitally important issue.  I will try to keep everyone up to date with this blog.  However, with it being the Jewish busy season, I know that might not be entirely possible.

Keep up the fight!

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About rabbisteinman

I am a rabbi living in North America. I was ordained from HUC-JIR. This is my blog.
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