Fantastic News coming from DC Agenda:
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning to hold a vote this year in her chamber of Congress for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, according to her office.
“It is the Speaker’s intention that a vote will be taken this year on ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] in the House,” Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, told DC Agenda in a statement Monday.
The announcement is promising news for repeal advocates because Pelosi has yet to put legislation to the floor that hasn’t had sufficient support for passage.
We'll need all hands on deck to make this a progressive victory and not win for the far right.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network,said he learned the House was planning this vote last week in a meeting with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
“I’m delighted that she’s reaffirmed to hold the vote this year,” he said.
Sarvis said the planned vote is helpful because it “underscores to the White House the seriousness of purpose” and the importance of moving key votes in both the House and Senate the upcoming weeks.
“The hour for the president as well as for the leadership to become engaged is now,” he said. “The reality is — particularly in the Senate Armed Services Committee — we are still short of some critical votes. We don’t have the votes today. We’re on the brink of getting them, and we need help from leadership on the Hill and from the president himself.”
WHY THE NEXT 30 DAYS IS A CRITICAL:
• Servicemember's Legal Defense Networkand other coalition voices are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration's defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal.
• The House and Senate Armed Services Committees will markup the Defense Authorization bill in a few short weeks.
• The Defense Authorization bill represents our best legislative vehicle to bringing repeal to the president's desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993.
LAYOUT FOR REPEAL / HOUSE AND SENATE TRACKS:
• Sen. Mark Udall told the Denver Post the committee was "within a vote or two" of including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill. Udall is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
• Rep. Jared Polis, who holds a key position on the House Rules Committee, told the Denver Post he is willing to help insert a similar provision in the House version of the Defense Authorization bill with the help of Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is the lead sponsor of the House repeal bill.
EXPECTED CALENDAR DATES:
• The House Armed Services Committee markup of the Defense Authorization bill is expected May 19.
• The Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the Defense Authorization bill is expected the week of May 26.
WHAT REPEAL ADVOCATES ARE HEARING:
•The House may move the Defense Authorization bill for a floor vote as early as the week of May 24.
WHITE HOUSE SIGNALS REASON FOR CONCERN:
•White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs signaled from the podium that the president is likely not going to push for repeal this year.
• From the Advocate: "President Barack Obama is allowing the Department of Defense to run the course of its investigation as to how to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday. The DOD's study is due December 1, suggesting legislative action will likely be ruled out until after the new year."
This Special Edition of GLBT and Friends at Daily Kosis in support of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's "Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama," a new media campaign to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal DADT.
Dear Mr. President: I was "Officer of the Year" and they treated me like a common criminal
Mike Almy was a decorated officer who served for 13 years in the US Air Force. He comes from a military family whose father attended West Point. He was awarded an ROTC scholarship and graduated at the top of his class. After being stationed in Oklahoma, he was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people, and was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.
He deployed to the Middle East four times during his career, commanding as many as 200 soldiers. But in a routine sweep of his computer, revealed a letter he'd sent home to the love of his life. Because that was a man, he was escorted from the base by military police, discharged from service and his pension cut in half. His story, told to the military's Commander in Chief, follows.
April 26, 2010
President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
If you end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), I’d re-enlist the day you sign repeal into law.
For thirteen years, I served in the United States Air Force where I attained the rank of major before I was discharged under DADT.
As the Senate Armed Services Committee considers including repeal in the Defense Authorization bill, we’re very close -- just two or three votes -- to passing repeal in committee. I ask for you to voice your support to put us over the top.
I come from a family with a rich legacy of military service. My father is a West Point graduate who taught chemistry at the Air Force Academy, flew helicopters in Vietnam, and ultimately retired as a senior officer from the Air Force. One of my uncles retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant from the Marine Corps, with service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Another uncle served in the Army in Korea.
Growing up, I didn't really know what civilians did, I just knew I would follow in my father's footsteps and become a military officer.
I joined Air Force ROTC in 1988 and was awarded a scholarship. I earned my jump wings in 1991. In 1992, I graduated from ROTC in the top 10% of all graduates nationwide. In 1993, I went on active duty, just as DADT was becoming a law.
Stationed in Oklahoma, I was named officer of the year for my unit of nearly 1,000 people. Later, I was one of six officers selected from the entire Air force to attend Professional Military Education at Quantico, Virginia.
During my career, I deployed to the Middle East four times. In my last deployment, I led a team of nearly 200 men and women to operate and maintain the systems used to control the air space over Iraq. We came under daily mortar attacks, one of which struck one of my Airmen and also caused significant damage to our equipment. Towards the end of this deployment to Iraq, I was named one of the top officers in my career field for the entire Air Force.
In the stress of a war zone, the Air Force authorized us to use our work email accounts for “personal or morale purposes” because private email accounts were blocked for security.
Shortly after I left Iraq -- during a routine search of my computer files -- someone found that my “morale” was supported by the person I loved -- a man.
The email -- our modern day letter home -- was forwarded to my commander.
I was relieved of my duties, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated.
In my discharge proceeding, several of my former troops wrote character reference letters for me, including one of my squadron commanders. Their letters expressed their respect for me as an officer, their hope to have me back on the job and their shock at how the Air Force was treating me.
Approximately a year after I was relieved of my duties, my Wing Commander recommended I be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, even though the Air Force was actively pursuing my discharge.
But instead, after 16 months, I was given a police escort off the base as if I were a common criminal or a threat to national security. The severance pay I received was half of what it would have been had I been separated for any other reason.
Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military.
Mr. President, I want to serve. Please fulfill your promise to repeal DADT and give me that chance.
Major Mike Almy
United States Air Force
“Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama”is a new media campaign launched to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). Every weekday morning as we approach the markup of the Defense Authorization bill in the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, SLDN and a coalition of voices supporting repeal, will share an open letter to the President from a person impacted by this discriminatory law. We are urging the President to include repeal in the Administration’s defense budget recommendations, but also to voice his support as we work to muster the 15 critical votes needed on the Senate Armed Services Committee to include repeal. The Defense Authorization bill represents the best legislative vehicle to bring repeal to the president’s desk. It also was the same vehicle used to pass DADT in 1993. By working together, we can help build momentum to get the votes! We ask that you forward and post these personal stories.
Participating blogs: AfterElton, AmericaBlog, AKAWilliam, Bilerico, BoxTurtleBulletin, GoodAsYou, HRCBackStory LGBTPOB, Michael in Norfolk, Mile High Gay Guy, Open Left, PageOneQ, Pam's House Blend, The Queer Times, Towelroad.
Major Mike Almy also told his story to Rachel Maddow on March 3, 2010. She says in the introduction, "...since it's clear the Obama administration is going to repeal the DADT policy." I'd say it is no long clear that is going to happen anytime soon. Speaking of Rachel, she hasn't reported on the state of the DADT repeal in a month, ask her why not?
CALL TO ACTION!
Fate of repeal will be decided in the next 30 days. As time grows short, repeal advocates have multiple strategies are in place. One thing they all share is a need to hear from the public the time is now. Now is the time for LGBT allies to get off the fence and call for equality for their fellow Americans.
• Contact your House Representatives: Tell them to support Representative Patrick Murphy's plan to offer DADT repeal legislation as a floor amendment to the military bill.
• Contact your Senators: Tell them to support adding repeal to the Senate Defense Spending Budget: these Senators are most key: Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Robert Byrd and Scott Brown. But call them all. Show them there's a grassroots movement to vote now.
• Contact the White House: Tell our Commander in Chief to call for repeal in 2010, repeal can't wait until 2011. The moment is now.