A campaign to delay repeal of “don't
ask, don't tell” this year has the nation's leading lobbying group
In a letter to President Obama, Aubrey
Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network, alleges the Obama administration is quietly campaigning
against repeal this year of the law that prescribes discharge for gay
troops who do not remain closeted or celibate.
“I am very disturbed by multiple
reports from Capitol Hill that your Congressional liaison team is
urging some Members of Congress to avoid a vote on repeal this year,”
Sarvis says in the letter.
“The upcoming House and Senate votes
will be close, and very frankly, Mr. President, we need your help
In an interview with gay glossy The
Advocate, Sarvis goes on to say that the Department of
Defense is lobbying members of congress to delay taking a vote on the
policy until after Defense Secretary Robert Gates' implementation
review is completed. The study – which will look at how best to
implement changes in the military should Congress repeal the law –
is due in December.
“The administration is saying, 'Look,
the working group has its task, their work is not concluded until the
end of the year, and we would prefer that this not be voted on this
year,” Sarvis said.
Proponents of repeal – including
openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank – have
previously suggested the study is unnecessary and a likely delay
Timing of repeal is important. Most
supporters concede passage in the Senate will be difficult and had
hoped to avoid a direct confrontation by tucking repeal language in
next year's defense budget.
Sarvis warned that the window for such
action is closing quickly.
“The train is leaving,” he said.
“We could have key votes before the Memorial Day recess.”
Last month, Representative Frank
sounded a similar alarm when he called on the president to make it
clear that he supports repeal of the law this year.
“The administration has been
ambiguous about it, and that ambiguity has allowed some to interpret
Secretary Gates' argument for a delay in implementation as a delay in
adopting the legislation.”