Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

“It’s the law!” is not actually an adequate defense of a law

The moment the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate to purchase health insurance under Obamacare, the primary defense of the law became “It’s the law!” Since talk began of a budget impasse over defunding this particular law, that refrain has become ubiquitous. There’s just one problem: It’s a tautology that doesn’t actually make an argument.

Every law began as a bill that was “passed by Congress, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court.” Laws, once written into code, do not become inviolably permanent. Even such duly-enacted laws can be repealed or defunded by Congress (with the President’s permission or by overriding his veto). Democrats in 2007 tried to defund the Iraq war, even though it was legally authorized by Congress, i.e. “the law”.

Surprisingly (except not at all), Democrats aren’t consistent sticklers for maintaining the status quo of the law in all cases. I will list a few examples, though it should be self-evident that the “progressive” party would be generally in favor of changing the law over time.

Left taking issue with Dems on civil liberties

civil liberties

Most people seem to come to libertarianism from the right.  It honestly makes sense when you think about it.  The right tends to be a place of minimal government and typically argues for more freedom.  The problems kick in on some specific issues.  Many libertarians came to libertarianism after searching for a more consistent ideology.

Me?  I’m a bit of an oddball.  I came from the left.  I came from a place of seeking more consistency on the issue of civil liberties that I was getting from the Democrats.  There have been times when I wondered if there was ever being a small “L” libertarian in the Democratic Party.  Based on what’s being reported over the party’s new platform, I can see that is a resounding “no.”

The piece points out several issues where the Democratic Party has decided to back away from their stances on civil liberties just four years ago.  Issues like indefinite detention, closing Gitmo, illegal wiretaps, and racial profiling all pretty much continue without any modification from President Bush’s era.  Even torture, for which many wanted heads on the proverbial pikes, has reportedly continued despite an executive order ending the practice.

So which conservative or libertarian publication makes such remarkes about President Obama and the Democratic Party?  Townhall?  Nope. Red State? Not even close.

The Weekly Standard? No. The National Review? Hardly. Reason? Wrong again. Try the left leaning Mother Jones.

Many on the left are less than pleased that Obama has done so poorly on civil liberties.  That says nothing over any meaningful move on gay rights (besides the appeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) or a host of other issues.

Podcast: Immigration, Crist Party Switch, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell On Hold AGAIN, 2010 Elections, Guests: Mike Hassinger & Doug Deal

This week, Jason and Brett speak with Mike Hassinger & Doug Deal, both far too infrequent contributors here at United Liberty.

The discussion covers these news stories from last week:

Podcast: State of the Union, Bank Fees, Spending Freeze, War on Terror, Gay Equality, Guests: Andisheh Nouraee & Jeff Scott

In a move that caused them to have more fun than normal, Jason and Brett were joined by Andisheh Nouraee and Jeff Scott this week.

Their discussion covered:

Obama has gotten one individual liberty issue right


Call it a case of the proverbial broken clock being right twice a day. President Obama has been terrible on most liberty issues, of course. He came into office promising a hands-off approach to medical marijuana states, but his DEA and FBI have kept the pace of the Bush administration on clinic raids. He has proposed and supported restrictive gun regulations, though his infamous “executive actions” didn’t end up amounting to all that much.

The myriad Obamacare mandates are egregious violations of individual and organizational liberty. But there’s one area where Obama has gotten it exactly right, or at least as well as can be expected from a modern President: individual rights for gay Americans.

BREAKING: Senate passes repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”

After defeating a filibuster attempt this morning by a vote of 63 to 33, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” - the Clinton era policy preventing gays from openly serving in the military - passed through the Senate just moments ago by a vote of 65 to 31.

Eight Republicans crossed over to vote for repeal: Scott Brown (MA), Richard Burr (NC), Susan Collins (ME), John Ensign (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH).

A recent survey from Pew Research showed 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 results of a study conducted by the Department of Defense 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 bill now heads to President Barack Obama, who has been advocating for legislative action to repeal DADT. However, his administration has opposed legal challenges to the policy.

The GOP’s Shameful Rant Against Gays In The Military On The House Floor

The highlights lowlights from last night’s floor debate:

House votes to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”

Last night, the House of Representatives voted to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” by a vote of 234 to 194:

The House voted Thursday to let the Defense Department repeal the ban on gay and bisexual people from serving openly in the military, a major step toward dismantling the 1993 law widely known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

It was adopted as an amendment to the annual Pentagon policy bill, which the House is expected to vote on Friday. The repeal would be allowed 60 days after a Pentagon report is completed on the ramifications of allowing openly gay service members, and military leaders certify that it would not be disruptive. The report is due by Dec. 1.

The House vote was 234 to 194, with 229 Democrats and 5 Republicans in favor, after an emotionally charged debate. Opposed were 168 Republicans and 26 Democrats.

You can see the roll call vote here.

The five Republicans that voted for repeal of the outdated, discriminatory policy are Joseph Cao (R-LA), Charles Djou (R-HI), Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ron Paul (R-TX).

The Senate Armed Services Committee also approved an amendment yesterday, by a vote of 16 to 12, to end the policy.

DADT vote may come this week

It looks like there will be a vote on “don’t ask, don’t tell” in at least one chamber of Congress before the week is out:

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) advocacy group, said it expects a vote to come up Thursday on an amendment to a defense authorization bill that would end the military’s long-standing prohibition on gay and lesbian servicemembers serving openly in the military.

HRC said Monday that it expects the amendment to come up for a vote concurrently on Thursday, one time on the House floor and one time in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The group is focusing on six key centrists — five Democrats and one Republican — who sit on the Senate committee ahead of the vote. The target senators are Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Jim Webb (D-Va.), and Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Democrats have the majorities in both chambers to make this happen, after months of dawdling around on the issue. This is a segment on their base that they need to turnout in November. There are no excuses for not getting this passed.

Obama Administration Asks Congress To Hold Off On DADT Repeal

Once again, the Obama Administration makes clear that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not a priority:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is urging Congress to hold off on repealing the ban on gays in the military until the Defense Department wraps up its yearlong review of how to implement a change.

“I strongly oppose any legislation that seeks to change this policy prior to the completion of this vital assessment process,” Gates said in a letter sent Friday to Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “I hope Congress will not do so, as it would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families.”

Gates’s position is consistent with what he told Congress during hearings earlier this year, but he’s sending a strong message coming just before the House and Senate prepare their annual defense bills. Several Democrats in Congress are pushing for legislation that would repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“We all look forward to the report on the review of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy by the Defense Department,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement responding to the Gates letter.” In the meantime, the Administration should immediately place a moratorium on dismissals under this policy until the review has been completed and Congress has acted.”

That last part, of course, is something that the Obama Administration, and the DoD, could do on their own without Congressional action.

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