The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Does Obama Have the Guts to let DADT Die?

    A federal district court judge has driven a stake through the heart of the 17 year old 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on gays in the military, placing an injunction on its enforcement throughout the military and declaring it unconstitutional. The judiciary is a co-equal branch of government, and the judge was doing what the judiciary is supposed to do, ruling to defend the rights of Americans under the Constitution.

    Both Admiral Mullen, the highest uniformed member of the US Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Gates have said the policy should end, although Gates wants to see the result of an ongoing study. Anyone who has served in the military knows that gays serve this nation in uniform, and since they have volunteered to protect our rights and freedom with their lives, they at least deserve to serve and live in dignity, and not in secret, as long as they perform up to standard. Senator Franken made a plea for the end to the law in September.

    Obama has said he thought the DADT policy should be reversed by the Congress. It was overturned in the House, but was filibustered in the Senate by Republicans. Since the GOP did not allow the repeal to be debated and voted on, and it had enough Senator support to pass, it is clear that Congress will never repeal DADT at any point in the foreseeable future.

    However, if the Obama administration does not appeal the sweeping ruling by Judge Phillips in 60 days, the case will be closed, DADT will be dead. It would likely take a new law passed by Congress to reinstate DADT.

    Will Obama be 'attacked by the left' if he DOES NOT appeal the decision, as purported by the BBC's Mark Mardell? Of course, he will surely be attacked by the GOP for going back on his word to let Congress decide the issue, but it was the GOP that prevented that with their filibuster!

    Will the left finally have some evidence to show Obama can play hardball, that Obama knows how to use his office to advance the principles on which he was elected, namely ending DADT?

    I would like to see no appeal, let DADT end, let gays in the service be held to the same performance standards as everyone else, and not be kicked out because of preferences in their personal life.

    Yet, I frankly doubt Obama has the courage to support his convictions, or the nerve to stand up to the GOP, and let the ruling stand that has halted the DADT policy. We will see, the 60 day countdown starts today. Many of his supporters would like to see Obama fulfil this campaign promise on DADT, even if not done through congressional action, but from this court decision.

    NYT : Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court for the Central District of California issued an injunction  banning enforcement of the law and ordered the military to immediately “suspend and discontinue” any investigations or proceedings to dismiss service members.

    In language much like that in her Sept. 9 ruling declaring the law unconstitutional, Judge Phillips wrote that the 17-year-old policy “infringes the fundamental rights of United States service members and prospective service members” and violates their rights of due process and freedom of speech.

    While the decision is likely to be appealed by the government, the new ruling represents a significant milestone for gay rights in the United States.

    Secretary Gates, Admiral MullenSec. Gates & Admiral Mullen


    The President had his chance with Congress and BLEW IT.  It has been a TRAIN WRECK.

    The Commander-in-Chief has the power to let the decision to stand.  It is the right thing to do, and if he doesn't then there will be hell to pay from progressives who already believe Obama doesn't have the strength of his convictions.  After Obama endlessly compromised away progressive legislation and getting absolutely NOTHING in return via votes by conservatives, he had better be willing to make a bold move by doing NOTHING and allowing this decision to stand.  Obama needs to transmit a show of strength to conservatives in the Republican and Democratic party.

    He isn't doing this in a vacuum.  Many are aware that our allies allow their LGBT citizens to serve openly and honestly.  Great Britain just celebrated TEN YEARS of allowing open service of gays and lesbians.

    If he appeals it will make him look timid and weak.  The LGBT community is watching this decision by Obama closely as there has been no movement on "The Employment Non Discrimination Act" and he has endlessly appealed the "Defense of Marriage Act."

    I hope, for the sake of the Democratic party's historic relationship with the LGBT community, he makes the right decision and does NOT appeal.

    Thank you for posting this, NCD.  John Aravosis at americablog has the letter from 21 Senators asking the President not to ask for a stay; here it is:

    October 12, 2010

    Dear Mr. Attorney General,

    We are writing to bring to your attention the recently issued decision of Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the United States District Court of the Central District of California in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declared that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) underlying law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech, thereby rendering DADT unconstitutional. In light of important national security concerns, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity at the Department of Justice, refrain from appealing this decision or the permanent injunction granted against this law.

    The following quote from the judge’s decision captures the overwhelming reason why the decision should stand: “Among those discharged were many with critically needed skills … Far from furthering the military's readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest.” As one of many criteria that the Justice Department will examine in deciding whether to appeal the permanent injunction to this policy, we ask that you examine whether or not an appeal furthers a legitimate governmental interest. We would say any appeal does not.

    Additionally, DADT harms military readiness, as well as the morale and the cohesiveness of our armed forces, at a time when our military’s resources are strained and unity is critically important. For every person discharged after ten years of service, six new servicemembers would need to be recruited to recover the level of experience lost by that discharge. This not only weakens our military, but neither is it an effective use of our government resources or taxpayer monies.

    President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have all publicly advocated for the repeal of this harmful law. There is no legal or military justification and not one shred of credible evidence that supports continuing the discriminatory DADT law, and considering the guidance of the commander-in-chief and the nation’s top two defense officials, we urge you to refrain from seeking an appeal. The federal court decision was a step in the right direction, and we are confident that the Senate will take the ultimate step by voting this fall on the fiscal year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to permanently lift the ban on gays in the military. Although we understand that only action by Congress can bring real finality to this issue, we believe an appeal of the recent federal court decision could set back those congressional efforts. Therefore, we request your assistance in ensuring that we can eradicate this discriminatory law permanently and urge the Justice Department to choose not to appeal any court decision that would keep this law in place.

    Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to hearing from you.


    Udall (CO)
    Sherrod Brown

    I assume the 'Bennett' is CO, not UT?

    Thanks for posting the letter I didn't know about it. The Senators who signed it are people who respect every American who serves this country honorably while wearing the uniform.

    I hope the other Senators get lots of calls from their constituents, too; I'd imagine they will, and it can casue more to sign the letter.

    I think the idea that he'll be attacked by the left for letting the court decisions stand rather than taking congressional action is too contorted.  Appealing to the right wing Supreme Court will mean a stay on the ruling until the High Court hears and decides the case and then an almost certain upholding of the original law when the right wing Roberts court rules as it inevitably will.  Then what?  We go to a more Republican congress than the one that didn't do anything about this the last time?

    Of course well written open-society legislation on issues like homosexual military service and same sex marriage are preferable to judicial victories that some will see as undemocratic or lacking a popular mandate.  But if our legislators can't deliver well written laws in support of an open society and the courts will give it to us anyway, we should be happy we have three branches of government.

    Obama needs to learn to get out of the way sometimes.  Just as he shouldn't have allowed his Justice Department to use state secrets arguments to quash civil rights trials, he should not allow Justice to appeal this.  Also, if California decriminalizes marijuana, he should not allow justice to act.  In cases where the President can get a desirable result by doing nothing, he should do nothing.

    Agree 100%. I think the BBC guy was smoking something before he imagined the left attacking Obama if he let DADT die due to this court ruling.

    I HOPE he has the courage to do it. Any republican knows that it's the destination and not the journey. This ia a PERFECT way to end it!

    So what if a bunch of republicans grumble about "activist judges?". Thet aren't approving Obama's appointments to lower courts anyway. I wish he'd just say, "Suck on that, you party of NOES!"

    What do I think will happen? They will appeal the decision.

    The 60 day limit runs beyond the midterms of course, so this needn't affect these elections. Ending DADT would REMOVE an issue from the 2012 election as over the next two years it would be shown that our military 'survived' fine post-DADT.  Few voters would even remember it all.

    If Obama has learned anything the last 2 years, he should have learned he needs to wield power, not just hold it, this is a prime 'learning moment' for him, Cville and WWS!


    Obama's consistent strategy since taking office has been to step aside in favor of giving another branch of government the opportunity to make a decision.

    Whether he has done this as:

    a) a sincere effort to redress the egregious use of executive power by the Bush/Cheney administration, trying to re-establish true checks and balances; or,

    b) in his first term, is avoiding "holding the bag" on divisive issues, pre-2012,

    the scenario that seems most likely to me is that he, as President will do nothing, while his Justice Department will go through the motions of filing an appeal (in an attempt to neutralize this issue as a target for GOP campaign accusations against him).... an appeal that will -- one hopes -- only be an appeal that is for appearance's sake, that will be handled carefully enough to irretrievably bog down before the Roberts court can reverse the current judge's ruling.

    We'll see. It would be great if Obama would take a definitive stand on this, as well as on GI benefits (they're still in limbo, arent they?) before the mid-terms. But that would probably not be consistent with his MO to date.

    Barney Frank thinks the repeal can happen in the lame duck Congress if the Log Cabin Republicans can get three Republicans to break a filibuster.  Beats me, but it's a nice thought.

    Frankly (haha), I doubt Frank's optimism would pan out.

    I noticed this on BBC:

    US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned a court-ordered halt of a ban on openly gay military personnel could have "enormous consequences"

    I wonder if Gates would submit his resignation if DADT died yesterday for good.

    Then I would ask him, what is more of a consequence for the military, stopping the witch hunts for gays, or your leaving office abruptly in time of war? Deal with it Gates, its certainly a microscopic, nano-threat to the military compared to what Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld did to our nation and its military, by sadistically torturing people and lying us into a brutal war and occupation.

    Gays serve in the forces of 25 nations, including Britain, Israel and Australia. Talk about Blowing Smoke, the DADT scaredy cats have me gasping for air.

    Might be time for Gates to leave, anyway...

    I just remember the Joint Chiefs sitting on their hands at the SOTU when Obama brought up the issue; they looked like they'd been suckin' on crabapples, too.  I personally never bought Gates' saying he was waiting for the report of 'how to implement' the repeal.

    Oh, sh*t, oh dear; look what Valerie Jarret had to say about Justin Aarberg 'having made a lifestyle choice':

    Aw, yuck.. I like how she had to go out of the way to reassure us that the Aarbergs are "good people."  You know, because their son was gay, so we all automatically suspected that they might not be.  Reminds me of McCain's rejoinder when his supporter asserted Obama was Arab - "No, ma'am, he's a decent family man" etc.

    It's just plain ratty, what she did and said.  On just about every level imaginable.  :o(

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