Senate's shameful DADT repeal failure
By: Cahir O'Doherty | Published Friday, December 10, 2010, 9:20 AM | Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 9:57 PM
You may not have followed the attempt to repeal the lamentable Don't Ask, Don't Tell
policy in the U.S. Senate
yesterday, so please allow me to supply a quick recap: it began badly and then spiraled into one of the most shameful days in American politics in decades.
Can there be any top-tier Democrat (or indeed, Republican) left in the nation who hasn't grasped the now white hot political risk of continuing to offend gay voters in this particularly clumsy fashion?
We're all sick of DADT. You, me, the gays, the Democrats
, the Republicans
, the American public and the estimated 66,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members still menaced by it around the world.
DADT has already been thrown out court, and in the court of public opinion, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have pleaded to end it, 75% of U.S.
voters want it repealed - and yet still it keeps coming back, like Banquo's ghost, prolonging its death throes in the corridors of power.
But yesterday the repeal of DADT failed not because of any high minded last minute objections, nor for any impassioned and transformative arguments, but simply because of petty procedural objections.
There are so many lamentable aspects to this abject failure of leadership from both parties that's hard to know where to start.
Let's start at the top. President Obama
insisted that the Senate should not act on DADT until the Defense Department's study was released on December 1, well into lame duck season and following the elections. So, since this was his plan, he's as responsible for yesterdays result as Harry Reid
and the Republicans who voted against it.
Republicans who said they'd vote for repeal (Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown
, and Dick Lugar
) did not in fact vote for cloture. They really really wanted to end DADT they said, but that would have meant handing the Democrats a victory, so forget it. So they voted against an issue they supported. Principled, eh?
And now with the prospect of Senate Democrats passing repeal diminishing by the hour - and with the Republican take-over promising nothing but irresponsible gridlock - would it be too much to ask that the President find it in himself to do what the Senate apparently can't - lead?
America voted for hope and change. America voted to end discrimination and the enforced deceit that blights soldiers lives and compromises their integrity. DADT doesn't hold up in the court of law or the court of American public opinion. But once again it will fall to the courts to do the job our elected officials are incapable of.
Perhaps we shouldn't lament those activist judges after all. Unlike our Senators, at least they're actually willing to perform the roles they're paid for.
The Senate can point fingers at each other from now till January - America doesn't care and neither do I. What matters is that yesterday they failed 66,000 active duty troops. It is still not safe for those soldiers to come out.
The Democrats had the House and Senate for two years and yet they waited until yesterday to fail. The House and the Senate now owe it to these brave soldiers to stay at their own posts until this repeal is complete in a stand-alone bill.