Congress, the White House and the Pentagon have agreed to a rather complicated dance that come December should end in the abolition of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gay Americans serving openly in the military.
Under the agreement, a bill stripping the policy from federal law would be put to a vote quickly, but if passed would not take effect until a Pentagon study is completed and released, a step expected to occur Dec. 1.
Then, once Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Obama get the report and certify that the change would not harm military readiness, the change would take effect and DADT would fade into the history books alongside Jim Crow laws and other discriminatory legislation.
But why the odd scheduling? It’s almost certainly an attempt to resolve a conflict between two timetables.
The Pentagon’s report is due Dec. 1. But a month before that, the nation goes to the polls, and even the more optimistic of Democrats acknowledge they are likely to lose seats in Congress if not outright control. Bluntly put, the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress have looked ahead and worry that when they finally get the Pentagon’s report, they won’t have the votes to implement it legislatively.
The solution? You pass a bill now, when you may still have the votes to do so, but delay it to ensure the Pentagon still gets its say. It’s a convoluted, jury-rigged, side-door means of killing a convoluted, jury-rigged side-door policy.