Defending DADT to end DADT?
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You can't get there from here. Essentially, that's the explanation being given by the Obama administration for their multiple - and increasingly incoherent - decisions to appeal discharges under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
Yesterday afternoon the Department of Justice appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Maj. Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under DADT.
Witt, a highly regarded flight nurse, was suspended in 2004 when the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship. But she didn't go quietly, she sued to get her job back.
Her case was successful, with U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruling in September that Witt's dismissal under the DADT policy violated her rights.
But yesterday the Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, within hours of the deadline for doing so. The administration is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the DADT policy unconstitutional.
Here's how White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained the administrations move:
"This filing in no way diminishes the President’s - and his Administration’s - firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year."
Can there be anyone left in America who believes this? The administration actually sounds like it's saying please stop us before we act again. How can it claim to be committed to ending an odious policy whilst simultaneously defending it at every turn?
To underscore the absurd and growing dissonance, Witt will be able to rejoin the Air Force Reserve even as the government appeals the ruling that allows her to.
Either Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell violates the federal constitution or it doesn't. Apparently the Obama administration seems to think it can do both simultaneously.
It's quite clear the policy is effectively dead - there have been no discharges this month - but it looks like the administration is holding up the repeal by scheduling studies and mounting endless last minutes appeals.
Why defend it at all, at this point, after the court's finding that it is unconstitutional?