Yesterday, as we crossed the 196th day since President Obama signed legislation to initiate the process that will end the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) law, supporters of repeal were pleased to hear news of a decision coming out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Unfortunately, this decision by the court to prohibit the Pentagon from enforcing the DADT law has also caused new and unnecessary confusion as this protracted process continues to languish without final resolution.
Make no mistake. At the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, we welcome this positive step, and we encourage the White House, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice not to seek an appeal of this ruling. But the truth is that the confusion caused by this latest court ruling over the enforcement of DADT could have been ended months ago if the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff had certified in a timely way. Now, as the process drags on, we are looking at the likelihood that it will have taken nearly a year since the president signed the repeal bill.
Some have asked why this even matters now that we have this new court ruling. The answer is simple. Though enforcement has been stopped for the time being, DADT is still the law of the land as long as certification and the subsequent 60-day waiting period required in the law have not taken place. If the government appeals this order and is successful, service members could be investigated and discharged once again. At SLDN, we represent clients right now, who are under investigation and could be discharged if this decision were to be reversed. Careers are at stake; livelihoods are on the line.
Meanwhile, opponents on Capitol Hill -- as late as yesterday -- were crafting and putting forth schemes to ambush repeal. New amendments were proposed to the House Defense Appropriations bill for 2012 that would bar federal funding for marriages or civil unions that do not comply with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); prohibit the use of military installations and military personnel for such ceremonies; prohibit federal funding from being used in contravention of DOMA; and even ban federal funding for DADT repeal training for service members in combat. Supporting these efforts behind the scenes are organizations like the Center for Military Readiness, which claims to be concerned only with ensuring a strong and ready military for our nation, but in fact, is simply using our service members to justify their continued existence and the promotion of a religious, social agenda.
So, how can we stop all this nonsense and confusion? Again, the answer is clear. It's time for President Obama, Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, to certify the repeal of DADT -- and in days, not weeks. Only then will we end confusion for all service members, gay and straight, and close the books on this discriminatory chapter in American history.
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