On Thursday, nearly 100 congressmen signed a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting detailed data on the number of gays and lesbians discharged under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The letter, written by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), amplifies previous concerns raised by Rep. Alcee Hastings on the Obama Administration's "strategy" on DADT.
"We request that the Office of the Secretary of Defense provide data on the current number of DADT discharges since January 1, 2009 to the present, no later than January 15, 2010. In addition, we request monthly reports thereafter to Congress detailing the number of enlisted service members and officers discharged under the policy.... Through these monthly updates, Congress and the public will get a clearer picture of the continued costs and damage to our national security inflicted by this policy."
This morning's editorial pages of the Washington Post, known for hawkish stance on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, continues the growing chorus of voices demanding a repeal of the "absurd" policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly. The editors applaud Moran and his 95 colleagues and say ball is now in the president's court:
Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), continues the painstaking work of securing sponsors for a bill that would overturn "don't ask, don't tell."... Recently, he was up to 186, approaching the 218 votes needed for passage. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) last month told the Advocate, a gay and lesbian newsmagazine, that a measure to overturn the ban is likely to be attached to the must-pass Defense Department budget authorization bill next year. "Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill," he said.
President Obama has been consistent in public speeches and in Oval Office meetings with Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he wants to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. So do we and a majority of the American people. Gays and lesbians in the armed services should be able to help protect the country without fear or shame.
The Obama Administration will submit the must-pass Defense Authorization request in February. We'll see if the DADT repeal is include. Or perhaps the Administration and congressional leadership want to avoid "controversial" gay rights issues as they head into mid-term elections.