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DADT is Not Repealed Yet, Folks. No, Seriously.

We’re at a difficult crossroads with DADT repeal. There are a number of intersecting factors that are either misunderstood or under-reported that I don’t think we as a community are dealing with adequately.

Following the vote on DADT in the House and Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), DADT repeal has a lot fewer sound-bites around which to mobilize. When dealing with the full Senate, Senate targets are not as easy to pinpoint as when dealing with a single committee. The general understanding in the community is that the Senate will inevitably vote in favor of passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and that we have enough Senators on our side in the Senate to guarantee passage of DADT repeal as it stands. Mix in mid-terms and the determination of some in the LGBT community to see some movement on ENDA this year, and you have a situation where the community is not nearly as energized around DADT as it was just a few months ago. 

The amendment that is up for a vote in the Senate is not ideal, but it’s what we have to work with. Going forward, there are a number of opportunities in the Senate voting process for the opposition to modify or water down the amendment – for instance, including all the service chiefs as signing authorities for certification as opposed to just the CJS, SecDef, and President – that on the surface seem innocuous enough. However, any change to the amendment– even an extra apostrophe – would create a conflict with the bill that passed in the House, and therefore would make the amendment “conference-able,” where key opponents such as Ike Skelton (D-MO) and John McCain (R, AZ) have another opportunity to halt repeal this year. In other words, the fight for repeal at this point is much more complicated than just “ask your Senator to support repeal of DADT this year.”

With midterms, energy crises, confirmation hearings, etc. taking up the Senate’s time, it is still not clear when NDAA will fall on the Senate’s calendar. We can presume the vote will likely be in September, but the reality is that we just don’t know. And therefore, it’s hard to paint a target around which folks can mobilize.

Energy. Wording. Timing. Combined, these difficulties present a significant problem. Meanwhile, the Family Research Council (FRC) is finally sticking its head out and mobilizing its own base around the issue, and we only have about a month to deal with it. All this means is that we’re nowhere near done.

Beginning tomorrow, Servicemembers United – in coordination with PHB – will roll out a new web ad each week focusing on various pro-repeal themes, including how repeal will be a non-issue for the military and how the discharge of valuable assets impedes military readiness. The new ads can be viewed at, here on Pam's House Blend and other blogs, and at the soon to be launched campaign hub website. Several ads will also be selected to air on television stations in the highest-priority target Senate states.

On Wednesday at 8pm will be a PHB-exclusive live-blog with an active duty service member who is among the 400,000 troops selected to take a Pentagon survey regarding opinions on open service and gays and lesbians in the military in general.

We have a lot more planned over the next few months, so stay tuned.

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Jarrod Chlapowski

Jarrod Chlapowski