The policy of discharging otherwise qualified gay soldiers from the military has been a hot topic this week. Last Friday, I asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to explain the difference in the risk to our security between discharging a qualified arabic linguist, and releasing photos of detainee abuse.
Maybe I'm naive, but I took this to mean that a repeal of the Don't ask/Don't tell was on the near horizon, maybe a couple of months away. There is a bill in the House of Representatives, HR 1283, that was referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel in March.
I contacted the subcommittee's chair, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca), and her spokesman, Aaron Hunter, gave me some rather deflating news.
He said that the committee plans to schedule hearings on the bill. Later this year.
I was flabbergasted. "You mean, the hearings on this bill could literally begin anytime up to December?"
That's just to schedule hearings, let alone hold a vote in the full committee or the House. By then, the midterm election campaigns will be in full swing, with Republicans already signaling that they plan to make gay marriage an issue.
This is not a criticism of Congresswoman Davis, who supports the repeal of this policy. She held the first Congressional hearings on DADT in 15 years last July. Hunter told me that they still need to build support for the bill in the subcommittee.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Ted Kennedy has agreed to sponsor the Senate version, but is still seeking a Republican co-sponsor.
I initially agreed with Gibbs' assessment, when I thought we were talking about a relatively short time frame. I don't think our national security can wait that long. When a prisoner makes a confession that there is no-one around to translate, or when a gay medic isn't there anymore to treat a wounded soldier, how much sense will waiting to change this policy make then?
President Obama should put a stop to these discharges. Period.
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