Update: Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s statement is after the flip.

And Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is right on that last point in the headline — what is the purpose of a study – hasn’t this been studied enough? Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of SLDN:

“We strongly applaud Sec. Gates supporting the President’s view that DADT needs to go. It’s a matter of when and how, he said, not if. We also strongly applaud Chairman Mullen who unambiguously personally supported gays and lesbians serving openly. The top military brass of the United States just laid out a roadmap for full repeal.

“We also welcome the new direction coming out of the Pentagon over the next 45 days. The direction seems to be a focus on reducing DADT discharges and has adopted or is considering adopting six of SLDN’s regulatory changes we provided the Department of Defense last summer.

“Top military officials also announced today they wanted to study the issue for a year or longer. Like Sen. Udall (D-Colo.), we think a one-year study is far too long and unnecessary and this process must have finality. SLDN would support a reasonable implementation and transition period if the Military Readiness Enhancement Act — Rep. Patrick Murphy’s legislation that repeals the law and replaces it with a policy of nondiscrimination — was simultaneously moving through Congress this year and the President signed the bill into law this year.

“All studies, including the decisive 1993 RAND study commissioned by the defense department, that openly gay service members do not have an adverse impact on unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, or readiness. Service members will be fired almost daily while the study is going on.”

“Some during the hearing today tried to claim DADT is working and is successful. It hasn’t been working for 16 years. Nearly a quarter of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans say they know who is gay and who is not. This means gay and straight troops are talking about it. Having a law on the books that fires 300+ talented linguists and medics, at a time of two wars when all manpower is needed, is un-American, and practically speaking, makes no sense, not to mention the cost to the taxpayer of kicking out qualified men and women.

“SLDN renews our call for Congress to include repeal in the defense authorization bill, which continues to be drafted and will not be finalized until late spring. The overwhelming majority of the public, including 61 percent of weekly churchgoers according to Gallup, is with the President and the 187 members of the House of Representatives who have cosponsored Rep. Murphy’s bill.”

 Like SLDN, Rep. Gillibrand and so many others, Rep. Baldwin doesn’t see the need to wait until the end of the year.

Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus

On Today’s Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing

On the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

February 2, 2010

“President Obama has done the right thing in calling for an end to the un-American and discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.  I thank Chairman Levin for holding today’s hearing and was pleased to hear Secretary of Defense Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, clearly state their support for ending the policy that prevents gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Since 1997, our armed forces have forced out nearly 11,000 dedicated, skilled, patriotic service members solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.  At a time when we need them most, we have lost trained Arabic linguists and other specialists, putting all of our troops and our national security at greater risk.  It is high time the U.S. catch up with many of our allies, including some fighting with us in Afghanistan, by ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’  These allies have welcomed openly gay and lesbian service members into their ranks with no loss of morale, unit cohesion, or other adverse effect.  Certainly we can do the same.

I hope today’s hearing marks the first step toward expeditiously ending the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.  I look forward to the results of the Department of Defense (DOD) 45-day review of policy to assess what can be done immediately.  However, I believe an implementation study can occur in a much shorter time frame than the eleven months that is currently being proposed.  

Secretary Gates testified, ‘We can only take this process so far, as the ultimate decision rests with you, the Congress.’  Secretary Gates is correct and I will continue my strong efforts to pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283) to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in our military.  

It’s time for Congress to act. Every day this policy remains in place, it does further damage to individuals, to our armed forces, and to our national security.”

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding