CIA director Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama's pick to succeed Defense secretary Robert Gates, will face the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday in what is expected to be a quick confirmation.
Questions remain as to whether "don't ask, don't tell" repeal will be certified before Gates leaves office June 30, however. Repeal advocates have urged the administration to certify DADT repeal prior to Gates's departure, in part due to a House amendment to the 2012 national defense bill that could delay repeal.
"Secretary Gates is set to retire later this month. Chairman Mullen is likely to retire sometime in the fall of 2011. Our senior military leaders should leave their posts having finished what they started by certifying DADT repeal," Crosby Burns, special assistant for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, wrote in a Wednesday op-ed.
"Not certifying repeal before their retirements would likely delay the final steps of ending the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers," Burns wrote. "Conservative lawmakers are determined to delay and derail DADT’s demise, and the longer our military leaders wait to certify, the more likely it is that these tactics will succeed. Politics will trump policy, which will deny brave men and women the ability to serve their country with honesty and integrity."
Check back on Advocate.com for updates on Panetta's Thursday confirmation hearing.
Update: Policy questions submitted to Panetta for Thursday's confirmation hearing, now under way with the Senate Armed Services Committee, includes the following on "don't ask, don't tell" repeal:
Homosexual Conduct Policy
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010," enacted on December 22, 2010, provides for the repeal of the current Department of Defense policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, to be effective 60 days after the Secretary of Defense has received the Department of Defense's comprehensive review on the implementation of such repeal, and the President, Secretary, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify to the congressional defense committees that they have considered the report and proposed plan of action, that the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by such repeal, and that implementation of such repeal, and that implementation of such policies and regulations is consistent with the standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and military recruiting and retention.
What is your view on repealing the current Department of Defense policy?
Panetta: I support the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and the certification process defined in the law.
If confirmed, and in the event Secretary Gates does not sign such a certification prior to his departure from office, I will work closely with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to access whether the elements for certification in the law are met before signing it myself.
Advance policy questions submitted to Panetta on religious guidelines for the Armed Forces do not include any inquiries on whether same-sex weddings should be banned from Defense Department facilities. Rep. Todd Akin, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, offered an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act to ban marriage ceremonies for gay couples at base facilities as well as to prohibit military chaplains from acting in their official capacity to perform such ceremonies. The House bill passed last month; the Senate will begin mark-up of its version of the bill next week.
The full list of advance policy questions for Panetta can be found here.