This week, a new strategy emerged in the effort to keep brave and qualified gay soldiers in the military, despite the still-in-effect-for-the-foreseeable-future “Don’t ask/Don’t tell” policy. From Advocate.com’s Kerry Eleveld:
Seventy-seven Congressional members led by Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday urging him to take immediate action to stop the investigations of “don’t ask, don’t tell” violations. The letter does not call for an executive order halting discharges but rather a change in how the policy is implemented within the Department of Defense.
“It is a presidential moratorium, it is a significant presidential action, but it’s not an executive order,” said Christopher Neff, political director at the Palm Center, a research institute at University of California, Santa Barbara. “They basically want the military to disregard anyone who ‘tells’ [of someone’s sexuality] as long as there isn’t a [Uniform Code of Military Justice] violation or something criminal.”
Kerry asked Robert Gibbs about it at yesterday’s briefing, explaining it well in the process:
Kerry: Thank you. So there was a letter sent last week from 77 members of Congress that went about having this interim solution just slightly differently, not actually doing an executive order, but asking the President to implement — or asking the President to qualify and tell the Department of Defense to implement the policy slightly differently, which is to not investigate whether someone is gay when they are told on, of course, “don’t ask, don’t tell.”This does not require an executive order. It’s a change in how the Department of Defense does the regulations and actually whether or not they investigate these allegations. Does that seem like something — and it’s an interim step — I mean, the members of Congress that were advocating for this suggested it as an interim step until congressional members could actually push through the legislation to full repeal.
This is the first time in a long time that Gibbs has answered a question about DADT with something other than the “durable solution” script he’s been giving on this:
MR. GIBBS: I have not — I have not seen and have not heard about that letter. Let me find out who might have that and examine what’s inside of it in terms of — I’d have to look at the process before I have a better sense of the effectiveness of the interim step.
Hey, that’s not bad. I followed up with Gibbs today, but he still hadn’t gotten a chance to look at it. Hey, it’s an open door. Any shot at lighting a fire under this is a welcome development.