View From Washington: The DADT Deal

BY Kerry Eleveld

May 25 2010 6:00 PM ET

So how did we get where we are? The White House and Gates seemingly didn’t want a
vote this year. Activists wouldn’t let up. Murphy, Levin, and Lieberman put in a heroic effort to salvage repeal. And in my estimation, when Levin was one vote away in the
Senate committee, White House officials realized the repeal train was leaving without
them and not hopping aboard was a no-win situation. If it passed, they
would get no credit; if it failed by one vote, activists would castigate
them for withholding support.

This compromise could still fail,
and make no mistake, the deal was brokered by the White House, which then
treated it as the redheaded stepchild it never wanted in the first
place. But the outcome — win or lose — now has the administration's fingerprints on it, even though its
refrain since Monday morning has been that Congress was forcing its
hand.

Sadly, the best-case scenario — passage — will do nothing
to stop the discharges in the near term. It is a critical step that removes the first
roadblock to changing the policy at some indefinite point in the future.
Passing the measure would not immediately repeal the law — instead the
“don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will continue until the DOD study is
completed and Gates, Mullen, and Obama certify that repeal can proceed.

No
matter what happens during the votes Thursday and Friday, the White
House will deserve credit only after the law is repealed and replaced
with a nondiscrimination policy. And if Congress votes to cede authority
over the policy to the administration, President Obama will be uniquely
empowered to issue an executive order that guarantees all Americans the
opportunity to serve their country with integrity and honor.





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