I spent a lot of time over the past few days talking about repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to both strongly political friends as well as apolitical friends of mine, LGBT and straight. The comment I heard most often was when is the President going to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell? There is still this misconception out there that because the policy was adopted and announced by the Clinton Administration, that Obama simply has the power here. Not so. It has since been codified into law and takes an act of Congress to repeal it.
So while the President has a role in this, not only is it incorrect to focus on the Administration and wait for action, but I've concluded by this point that we can't count on the Administration lifting a finger to help. We have to get this done the old-fashioned way: contacting Congress ourselves. Gen. Shaliskhavili did his part with a well-worded op-ed in the WaPo this weekend. Let's take the ball and run with it.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a vote on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The House is also expected to vote late this week after the SASC votes. If we lose this vote, it will be a significant blow even if repeal passes in the House. Or, put another way, we simply cannot afford to lose this vote.
As Dr. Weiss wrote last week, ENDA is already hanging by a thread. We are on the razor's edge of seeing repeal of DADT going the same way, but we are also on the cusp of winning. The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121, and it's time to pick up the phone and ask your members to support repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Normally, "call your members" isn't an ask I like to make. Here at Bilerico Project courtesy of Dr. Weiss and at my home blog, OpenLeft.com, we have targets. And we do- if you are a constituent of Sens. Bayh, Brown (MA), Byrd, Nelson (FL) or Webb, they are the swing votes in committee and have been for over a month. It is especially important that you call, and ask friends who are constituents to call.
But having heard many things about the mood up there on Capitol Hill, there are so many nominally supportive members worried about this fall's election that many would rather not see a vote at all, or will even vote against it. It's just one of those environments that even if you have someone who has said they are a supporter, if they aren't a supporter of the Kirsten Gillibrand or Barney Frank caliber, it's good to drop them a line and ask them to support repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell this week. It's game time, my friends, as SLDN's Aubrey Sarvis put it:
"This is our 'all hands on deck' moment," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for SLDN. "For repeal to succeed, it is critical that all proponents for full repeal weigh in now, including the White House. We are only a few days away from this historic vote."
Sarvis told The Advocate that key offices on the Hill had reached out to the organization to get the message out. "We are hearing from the Hill that proponents of repeal need to be heard louder and clearer that they support a vote for repeal next week."
The one other thing I want to say is that it's easy to talk about the Obama administration and their lack of action on this issue. I've pushed back a lot on their failures at OpenLeft. But I just don't care anymore, and neither should you. Why? Because it will feel a lot to better to win those last few votes and pass repeal in the face of the Obama administration sitting on the sidelines and even running interference in the form of the Pentagon review and the Gates letter. If you're angry at the Obama administration - and I am, too - there's no better way than sticking it to Gates by passing a repeal vote in the face of his opposition. You can do that by calling your members.
Plus, no one wants to be sitting at the end of this week, watching repeal of DADT fail in committee, and wishing they had spent more time calling their members and asking friends to instead of writing about how the Obama administration isn't helping.
So it's in our hands, friends. If you have 5 minutes, make a few calls. If you have 10 minutes, drop a line to your friends/family/colleagues who are constituents of Sens. Bayh, Brown (MA), Byrd, Nelson (FL) or Webb, and ask them to make a call. The number is 202-224-3121, or all the Senators's individual contact information is here, and House members are here. Servicemembers United is asking you to report back on Facebook what your members said, which you can do here.
Please take a second and call.