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Time to Mobilize: This is It!

RADM Alan M. Steinman,  USPHS/USCG (Ret)

President Obama declared, in his State of the Union address:

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."

This is a call to arms for the GLBT community and its allies.  Note the President said “This year…”  That means now in political parlance.  Note  he also said “I will work with Congress….”   That means he’s personally committed; it’s now a White House priority, stamped with the imprimatur of a State of the Union speech.  And note that he said “repeal the law …” He didn’t say tweak it, or reform it or revise it – repeal, as in eliminate it.

There is great urgency for this to happen now.  If DADT doesn’t get repealed in 2010, then it likely won’t happen for a very long time.  Given that the Democratic majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate are quite likely to be seriously diminished following the November elections, it truly is “now or never” for DADT. 

Critical to the successful repeal of DADT are the opinions of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Although Congress is solely responsible for enacting repeal legislation (which is the only realistic way to get rid of DADT), the members of Congress who vote on the issue need to hear from their military experts, the Joint Chiefs and SecDef, that allowing gays to serve honestly, honorably and openly will not hurt the military.   The legislators need that reassurance.  Absent that opinion from the Pentagon, it’s unlikely there will be enough votes in Congress, even with the current Democratic majorities, to pass repeal legislation.  

While we in the GLBT community cannot do much to influence what the Joint Chiefs have to say on the issue, we can let our Congressional delegates know how we feel about it.  The American public is vastly on our side of this issue (unlike the issue of gay marriage).  Recent polls show anywhere from 75-81% of the public favoring gays serving openly in the military.  So legislators should have political “cover” for a favorable vote on this issue.  But since politics is all local, constituents need to let their own Senators and Congressional Representatives hear from them, repeatedly if necessary.  This is crucial.  You can bet our opponents are organizing even now for a strong anti-gay push.

The first thing we need to do is tell the President we want to see repeal language in the upcoming Defense Authorization Bill.  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org)has provided good information on how to do that:

Call the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 and tell the president to:

Make good on his commitment to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" when he submits  his defense budget.  Ask Congress to partner with him so that we can get repeal done in 2010.

Example Script for Your Call

Hello, my name is __________ and I'm calling from __________ (city, state). 

I'm calling to urge President Obama to keep his promise to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and include repeal in his defense budget. This discrimination is wrong. 

Firing qualified service members simply because they're gay needs to stop in 2010. Thank you.

Next, take the few minutes necessary to write an e-mail to your Senators and Representatives; call the White House with your support, and call your Senators and Representatives as well.   And then go on Facebook and Myspace and urge all your friends to do likewise.  

 THIS IS IT!   It’s now or never!!

  2010 Gay Military Signal