96 Legislators Call for DADT Discharge Data Ahead of 2010 Debate on Military’s Anti-Gay Policy

96 members of Congress have sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling for detailed information on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy that bans openly gay service personnel.

The letter, penned by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA8), requests information on the numbers of service personnel discharged in 2009, coupled with information on what branch those persons served in, their job specialties and their years of service. Congress will debate a DADT repeal early next year with the Senate expected to take up the issue in late January and the House in February.

An extract from Moran’s letter reads (link added FYI):

“This discriminatory policy results in the Department of Defense losing tens of millions each year in unrecoverable recruiting and training costs. The 2006 Blue Ribbon Commission’s report on DADT (.pdf) found that the Pentagon wasted over $360 million due to this policy from 1994 until 2003, the last year studied. Since its enactment in 1994, over 13,500 service members have been discharged under DADT, including 730 mission critical soldiers and over 65 Arabic and Farsi linguists vital to the war on terrorism.

“To increase transparency on the effects the DADT policy is having on our military and by extension our national defense, 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 including their job specialty (MOS), time in the service and branch of the military.  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.”

Out of all the legislators who added their names to the letter (list after the fold at the bottom of this post) only one of them was a Republican, and that was Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. An absence of Republican names on the letter is disappointing but not entirely unexpected.

The DADT repeal will likely be attached to the Defense Authorization Bill for 2011 as indicated by Rep. Barney Frank early last month. This could be contentious.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently reiterated support for the military’s DADT policy. He was a vocal adversary of hate crimes legislation, especially when it was added to the Defense Bill for 2010, calling it “non-germane” and an “abuse of power”. He’ll probably be one of the leading voices against attaching the DADT repeal to the Defense Authorization Bill, and may try to defeat the DADT repeal when it comes to the floor in the Senate. 

It is also a rather bitter circumstance that, in order for gay service personnel to testify before Congress on their experiences with DADT, special legislation has had to be introduced to prevent those personnel from being discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rules.

Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, an organization actively researching and campaigning against DADT, noted that there were members of Congress who were not receptive to discussing the repeal, presumably because of the impending congressional elections, but that this letter might help keep the debate prominent, saying:

“It’s clear that some in Washington are looking for ways to avoid discussing DADT in 2010. This letter from 96 Congressional offices keeps the pressure on the White House, Pentagon and Congress by illustrating the costs of discrimination with concrete data.”

Earlier this year, Joint Force Quarterly, a top scholarly journal affiliated with the Pentagon, published an article which criticized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and called for its repeal.

While not directly indicative of the Pentagon’s own views, this perhaps demonstrates a marked change of opinion, than, say, in 2007 when the Pentagon and President Bush defended the policy as being necessary for unit cohesion. Notably, there have also been several cases that have emerged this year which appear to show that the US Army is already selectively applying DADT to fulfill the need for skilled service members. No doubt these issues will also come up when Congress debates “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in early 2010.

Care2 Action:

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Congressional signatories to Rep. Jim Moran’s letter include:

Hastings (D-FL), Baldwin (D-WI), Polis (D-CO), Frank (D-MA), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Berkley (D-NV), Wu (D-OR1), Hinchey (D-NY), Jackson Jr (D-IL), Hare (D-IL), Doggett (D-TX), Olver (D-MA), Dingell (D-MI), Massa (D-NY), Gutierrez (D-IL), Walz (D-MI), Capuano (D-MA), Filner (D-CA), Quigley (D-IL), Cohen (D-TN), McGovern (D-MA), Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Grijalva (D-AZ), George Miller (D-CA), Capps (D-CA), Sherman (D-CA), Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Courtney (D-CT), Andrews (D-NJ), Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Wexler (D-FL), Rothman (D-NJ), DeGette (D-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Schwartz (D-PA), Serrano (D-NY), Blumenauer (D-OR), Schakowsky (D-IL), Stark (D-CA), John Hall (D-NY), Langevin (D-RI), Maloney (D-NY), Tsongas (D-MA), Clarke (D-NY), Delahunt (D-MA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Himes (D-CT), Lofgren (D-CA), Owens (D-NY), Israel (D-NY), Weiner (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Pingree (D-ME), Richardson (D-CA), Crowley (D-NY), Nadler (D-NY), Waxman (D-CA), Christensen (D-VI), Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Kagen (D-WI), Meeks (D-NY), Lujan (D-NM), John Lewis (D-GA), Connolly (D-VA), Engel (D-NY), Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ackerman (D-NY), Woolsey (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Shea-Porter (D-NH), Farr (D-CA), Fudge (D-OH), Kennedy (D-RI), Welch (D-VT), Carnahan (D-MO), Tierney (D-MA), Rush (D-IL), Honda (D-CA), Holt (D-NJ), Sestak (D-PA), Dahlkemper (D-PA), McDermott (D-WA), Kucinich (D-OH), Yarmuth (D-KY), Harman (D-CA), Titus (D-NV), Robert Brady (D-PA), Gonzalez (D-TX), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Speier (D-CA), Van Hollen (D-MD), Woolsey (D-CA)

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to the US Army Photostream.


Jim Bryan
Jim Bryan8 years ago

This is the politics of distraction. DADT is a policy used in application of a law enacted by Congress. If they wanted real change they would repeal or alter Sec. 925. Art. 125. Sodomy, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. DADT allows gays to serve in the military (whereas before they could not), provided they don't, well, act gay (pun intended).

BMutiny ThemIDefy
Barbara T8 years ago

SIGN the Petition, WRITE your Congresscritter -- whichever side of the issue they are on, write them to praise them or sting them! WE CAN AND MUST ACCOMPLISH THIS. The Repugs are Big Losers in every way. They have lost almost all the young people. The Repugs must DIE as a party and as a viable force in politics. Their huge collective wealth, their control of media propaganda won't save them.

Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

Everyone should be able to be themselves without the fear of losing their jobs; what does being gay have to do with how people do their jobs, whatever that may be?

Rajshree B.
Rajshree B8 years ago

Thanks for the post!

Ken B.
Ken Bachtold B8 years ago

All our "all talk and no action" President has to do is sign an executive order and that would be the end of DADT until Congress could repeal it. He promised to do so during his campaign (along with shutting down Gitmo and promoting SINGLE PAYER (should have been framed "Medicare for Everyone" instead of the bland and confusing "Public Option")and, as is his pattern, has not done so! And, hey, were is Maxine Waters' name? She's usually at the forefront of any injustice? I'm proud my guy, Jerry Nadler, is there - as he usually is on the right side of an issue!!!

Carla Spencer
Carla S8 years ago

I'm pleased to see *one* person there from my home state - Carnahan. This needs to be repealed immediately, and all of those who were forced out on DADT given the opportunity to re-up.

Let's try and leave the Dark Ages in the dust for the new year!

Alice B.
Alice B8 years ago

Right on, Nyack - we LGBTs shouldn't have to pay taxes to a country that denies us our full citizenship and demonizes us instead of supporting our full humanity. I'm not at all surprised though re: Senator [loser] McCain's harsh opposition hate crimes legislation and to repealing DADT. Just remember his own personal hate-speech to his own wife: calling her the "c word" in public, in front of the media. He's a hateful stupid git and useless at best - sadly, very harmful most of the time. DADT stands for "Dumb-Ass Deplorable Travesty."

David F.
David Fillingham8 years ago

How about GLBT and veterans and peace workers, students and unions etc. banns the military from starting stupid wars to begin with like the two we are in? Obama is dissapointing on so many accounts; let's hope he can gain some credibility in the new year by ending Gitmo, outlawing torture and rendition, stop terror theater esp the patriot act, and stop listening to the pentagon and start to listening to the majority of people. Rahmbo, Rahm Emmanual, is the problem it seems to me. He controls what the president and sees and thinks to a large degree. He is a moral pragmatist who does not take any risks. So good things get abandoned because there are risks to take.

Sorry for the rant. Happy new year.

Charles M.
Charles Muehlhof8 years ago

Why is this an issue? Shouldn't the focus be on how to keep our troops alive? Or more importantly, how the hell to get out of there! This isn't a Rudyard Kipling tale, with defeated rivals having their heads knocked about in some polo travesty! This is Afghanistan! A God forsaken wasteland, where the inhabitants haven't changed in at least 200 years, at least, and has defeated all so-called major powers, that have attempted ANYTHING there! Democracy? Hell, there isn't even that much democracy left in the US, unless you have a bucketful of money! And we all know that's no bull!

Vicky C G.
Vicky C G8 years ago

DADT is ignorance at it's finest. It needs to be repealed NOW. Taxpayer dollars are lost when highly trained people are dismissed because of sexual orientation. Ridiculous.