As I’ve said previously, my highest priority is to have the policy that best enables our armed services to do their job,” Senator-Elect Toomey said. “Our civilian and professional military leadership have now spoken and said we should repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I would support a free-standing measure to do so.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s outdated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy:
The House on Wednesday handily approved a repeal of a ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Republicans who have resisted holding a vote on procedural grounds.
The measure that the House approved, 250 to 175, had originally been part of a broader military policy bill. Last week, the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster of that measure, with only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to advance the bill.
The House bill now goes back to the Senate as a privileged bill, meaning that the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, can call it up immediately. Among Republicans, Senators Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana have indicated they could be open to voting for a repeal.
Reid has been blamed for dropping the ball on repeal of DADT by placing it in a military spending bill. And most Republicans believe that repeal of DADT is inappropriate in a lame duck session, even though they would likely voting against it anyway.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has already said she’s on board. With the tax deal likely to pass today, it’s hard to see the other Republicans listed above not voting for cloture to move repeal to a final vote.
A study released earlier this month showed broad support among members of the armed forces in repealing DADT with 70% believing it would have little or no effect.
The Department of Defense released a study (you can read it below) yesterday showing that an overwhelming majority of American service members do not have a problem fighting alongside gays:
The Pentagon’s long-awaited report on gays in the military concludes that repealing the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law would present only a low risk to the armed forces’ ability to carry out their missions and that 70 percent of service members believe it would have little or no effect on their units.
According to the results of a survey sent to troops this summer and cited in the report, 69 percent of respondents said they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the report.
Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians.
At the same time, the survey found that 30 percent of those surveyed overall — and between 40 and 60 percent of the Marine Corps — either expressed concern or predicted a negative reaction if Congress were to repeal the law.
Additionally, a new survey from Pew Research shows that 58% of Americans support eliminating the out-of-date policy; public support for allowing gays to serve in the military has been over 52% since 1992.
The only thing I’d like to see happen during this lame duck session of Congress outside of making the Bush tax cuts permanent is repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And according to the Washington Post, the votes may be there to push it through:
Thirteen Democratic senators signaled strong support Thursday for ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and said they are willing to work well into December to ensure passage of a defense bill that would end the ban on gays openly serving in uniform.
The show of support came as Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said this week that he plans to bring the bill up for a vote again after the Thanksgiving recess despite the objections of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who opposes an end to the policy.
Other Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), have said they will vote to move ahead with the bill if Reid allows for a fair debate and others could also support it, senators said Thursday.
Asked Thursday whether the Pentagon supports adding the repeal to the defense bill, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell reiterated the Obama administration’s position.
“That’s what we as an administration are pushing for, and we certainly see the merit in using that as the legislative vehicle to ultimately get to repeal,” Morrell said, acknowledging that the Defense Department rarely comments on congressional affairs.
Several tea party organizations and GOProud are encouraging the GOP to stay away from social issues in the upcoming Congress:
In a letter to be released Monday, the group GOProud and leaders from groups like the Tea Party Patriots and the New American Patriots, will urge Republicans in the House and Senate to keep their focus on shrinking the government.
“On behalf of limited-government conservatives everywhere, we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement,” they write to presumptive House Speaker John Boehner and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell in an advance copy provided to POLITICO. “This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue.”
The letter’s signatories range from GOProud’s co-founder and Chairman Christopher Barron — a member of a group encouraging Dick Cheney to run for president — to Tea Party leaders with no particular interest in the gay rights movement.
As of Sunday evening, the letter had 17 signatories. They include tea party organizers, conservative activists and media personalities from across the country, including radio host Tammy Bruce, bloggers Bruce Carroll, Dan Blatt and Doug Welch, and various local coordinators for the Tea Party Patriots and other tea party groups.
“When they were out in the Boston Harbor, they weren’t arguing about who was gay or who was having an abortion,” said Ralph King, a letter signatory who is a Tea Party Patriots national leadership council member, as well as an Ohio co-coordinator.
The list I have to choose from for president in 2012 is steadily shrinking. The latest name to be scratched off the list? Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). While appearing last night on Special Report w/ Bret Baier, DeMint said, “you can’t be a fiscal conservative without being a social conservative”:
Now, this is something he has said before. At the Value Voters Summit in September, DeMint said, “it’s impossible to be a fiscal conservative unless you’re a social conservative because of the high cost of a dysfunctional society.” I was hoping it was a moment of pandering, but it looks like I was wrong.
In responding to DeMint and other social conservatives shortly after comments made in September, David Boaz, executive vice-president of the Cato Institute, wrote:
As Republicans look to take back the House, independent voters are letting the GOP know that they don’t care about mosques, gay marriage or other social issues. They are focused only on the economy and jobs:
Mr. Cornyn, who has been on the receiving end of anti-establishment anger, argued that the Tea Party had helped Republicans in one important respect, by moving the debate away from social issues. While Tea Party supporters tend to be socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, most say they don’t want to talk about them; they believe that by spending so much time on those issues, the Republican Party failed to focus on fiscal conservatism.
While social issues tend to be polarizing, Republicans can win on economic issues, Mr. Cornyn said, because the Democrats have been in charge as the economy has gone south.
“As I’ve traveled,” he said, “I’ve talked to a lot of folks who are basically independents who say: I’m fine with the Republicans as long as we’re talking about fiscal responsibility. Where I go off the reservation is when you talk about social issues.”
If the GOP can credibly embrace the idea that endless bailouts (many of which were instituted by a Republican president) of GSEs, big banks, car companies, homeowners (but never renters!), etc. are a bad idea; that increasing total government outlays by 104 percent in an eight-year period is really awful; and that doubling down on the less-winnable of two dumb wars is not smart, maybe they deserve another shot at running the House.
Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the RNC and George W. Bush’s campaign manager, has confirmed in an interview with Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic that he is gay:
Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.
“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”
Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.
“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to resume in California:
The decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, trumps a lower court judge’s order that would have allowed county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday.
Lawyers for the two gay couples that challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel’s decision on the stay to the Supreme Court.
In its two-page order granting the stay, the 9th Circuit agreed to expedite its consideration of the Proposition 8 case. The court plans to hear the case during the week of Dec. 6 after moving up deadlines for both sides to file their written arguments by Nov. 1.
“We are very gratified that the 9th Circuit has recognized the importance and the pressing nature of this case by issuing this extremely expedited briefing schedule,” said Ted Boutrous, a member of the plaintiffs’ legal team.
Though a stay was issued by the appellate court, this isn’t all good news for supporters of Proposition 8 as the order reads:
In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing.
In an editorial at AOL News, Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard, argues that the government needs to get out of the marriage business:
If government exits the marriage business, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples would be free to enter private contracts, picking and choosing which ones to sign. Do they plan to have kids? Sign the guardianship contract. Do they need to protect inheritances? Add in that contract. Do they want the whole bundle? No problem.
The result would be that opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples would have the same opportunity to live together, write wills, have biological or adopted children, and so on. Nothing in the law would make any distinction based on the gender or sexual preferences.
The government could still accomplish its legitimate aims in this area by defining default rules for each component. It could, for example, specify that the biological mother is a child’s only legal parent unless the mother voluntarily gives up that status. This rule might also impose that the biological father is responsible for some percentage of child support. (Governments already have such rules because many children are born outside of wedlock.)
Of course, couples who wished to be married could still head off to the church or synagogue. This wouldn’t have any legal implications, it would simply be a private arrangement between the couples and the religious institution performing the ceremony.
Neither supporters nor opponents of gay marriage are likely to endorse the privatization of marriage. That’s because both sides want government policy to validate their own views of what constitutes a “legitimate” family.