For months, supporters of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had been, it’s fair to say, deeply unhappy with President Obama, who had punted on their promise to end the policy, and, many believed, had simply decided not to act on it. But last night, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chair of the Armed Services Committee, told me and a few other reporters that the White House got religion on the issue “in the last few days.”
What changed? That remains unclear. According to Levin, “there’s a great deal of feeling that it’s a discriminatory policy. And all the public opinion polls–it’s a policy which the public does not favor and you’ve got the support for ending the policy at the highest levels of the military.” All true. But those two facts have been valid for months. How does that explain the White House’s change in posture?Levin didn’t elaborate, but he did explain that one way or another Congress would have to act. The basic plan is to let military leadership decide when to implement the repeal, but unless Congress changes the law first, their hands will be tied.
“If the leadership of the military does what they say they’re going to do, which is abolish the policy, you don’t want a legislative–previously legislated language to prevent them from doing what they say they want to do,” Levin said. “Right now the law prevents the military leaders from doing what they say they want to do, which is abolish the policy after seeing the report.”
Levin’s committee will likely vote on the repeal, as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill later this week.