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What next on DADT?

Now that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of Defense and Gen. Colin Powell are on board with the commander in chief in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal advocates must take advantage of this new opening.

That is huge. But even more hard work is needed, particularly since our opponents, like U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Lakeside, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, are all over the airwaves making their case.

Over the next 90 days our campaign is focusing on lawmakers who sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the entire Senate. We need more energy and action there.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, is a DADT hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee. This will be the perfect opportunity for repeal advocates to be a part of the fight. They should call both of their U.S. senators before Thursday, ask where each stands on repeal and tell them to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year. SLDN will be coordinating a grassroots campaign to inundate Senate offices next week with phone calls urging senators to get repeal done in 2010.

Congress must repeal DADT this year while the Department of Defense conducts its study. Both can and should happen concurrently. DoD’s study Working Group should not hold up legislative repeal, since the study Working Group is not looking at if the law should be repealed but how. “The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it,” Sec. Gates told the committee earlier this week. And Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) wrote, “A study should not unduly delay taking our last steps toward final action.”

DADT repeal will be more difficult to achieve next year and even tougher in 2012. We must all push hard to get repeal in the coming weeks through the defense authorization bill, which is now moving. Timing is everything in politics. Let’s move out.