The Obama administration has agreed to
a compromise measure on repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the
law that forbids gay troops from revealing their sexual orientation,
the Washington Post reported.
The breakthrough comes after Democratic
congressional leaders, officials from the Obama administration and
major gay rights groups met on Monday.
Under the compromise, repeal of the
military gay ban would not take effect until after the Defense
Department has completed its study on how to integrate openly gay
troops in the military. The study is already underway and expected
to wrap up in December.
Before repeal takes effect, the
president, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, must certify that the new
policy is consistent with standards of military readiness, military
effectiveness, unit cohesion, military recruiting and retention.
Gay groups lobbying for repeal cheered
“The White House announcement is a
dramatic breakthrough in dismantling 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network, said.
“If enacted this welcomed compromise
will create a process for the president and the Pentagon to implement
a new policy for lesbian and gay service members to serve our country
openly, hopefully within a matter of months,” he added.
Last month, military leaders urged
Congress to delay repeal until after its review was complete, a move
the president endorsed. But Democratic leaders on both sides of
Congress decided to ignore their pleas and act on legislative repeal
While Congressional leaders could have
moved ahead with repeal on their own, the compromise will likely help
win over fence sitting lawmakers and shore up support in Congress.
Proponents of repeal are pursing
different paths in each chamber: Senators will attempt to attach
repeal language to next year's defense budget in the Armed Services
Committee, while House members will vote on a similar maneuver on the
floor after House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton
blocked the issue last week.
Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy, a
vocal supporter of repeal, will offer his amendment after the
committee hands over the measure to the full House. While Murphy has
said he has the votes needed to attach his amendment, an official
co-sponsor count puts the bill 25 votes short.
Fifteen votes are needed to attach
repeal language in the Senate Armed Services Committee chaired by
Senator Carl Levin. The Michigan Democrat is among the Senate's most
ardent supporters of repeal. But the committee's ranking Republican,
Arizona Senator John McCain, has become the face of opposition to
repeal in the Senate. The committee is expected to act on Thursday.
In a letter addressed to the president,
Murphy, Levin and Senator Joseph Lieberman, who also sits on the
Armed Services Committee, reiterated their commitment to repeal of
the gay ban.
“It is our firm belief that it is
time to repeal this discriminatory policy that not only dishonors
those who are willing to give their lives in service to their country
but also prevents capable men and women with vital skills from
serving in the Armed Forces at a time when our nation is fighting two
wars,” the men wrote.
Conservatives opposed to repeal say the
policy is working and should not be repealed at a time when the
country is facing two wars. Tony Perkins of the Family Research
Council, a group opposed to gay rights, decried the agreement as “a
back room deal” that “uses the military to advance the political
agenda of a radical special interest group.”