You might think the lame duck Congress passed the bill to repeal it last year. True, and President Obama signed it on December 22, 2010.
Yet odd as it may seem, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010” did not actually repeal anything. Instead, it set in motion an unusual series of trigger mechanisms, which would not lead to repeal until sixty days after the last one of them is completed. Since this process has not yet been completed, the law barring homosexual conduct in the military is still in place—and there is still time to stop this ill-advised repeal.
The sixty-day countdown begins when the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the change “is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”
The Pentagon has prepared detailed training about repeal of the current law, which is already underway. But on April 7, the House Armed Services Committee questioned the four service chiefs (all of whom expressed significant reservations about repeal last year). None of the chiefs was prepared to declare that such a change would improve the military, and Army Gen. George Casey stated in written remarks that it posed a “moderate risk” to the force—in contrast to last year’s Pentagon study, which declared the risk to be “low.”
President Obama has seen the light on other national security issues, such as abandoning plans to close Guantanamo and try terrorists in civilian courts. Let’s hope that Congress can likewise persuade the president, Secretary Gates, and Adm. Mullen that they cannot, in honesty, “certify” that this change will be harmless to our Armed Forces.