Lipinski Votes to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Heeding Advice of Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen on Dangers of Allowing Courts to Intervene
Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and prevent the disruption that could occur if the courts impose an immediate repeal by judicial fiat. Congressman Lipinski also cited the results of the Pentagon’s comprehensive review of the issue and the testimony of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen concluded that repeal can be accomplished without compromising military readiness.
“In May, I voted against repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because I thought it was an affront to our military to proceed with such a consequential change of policy prior to completion of the Pentagon’s scheduled report on the impact of repeal. Today, Congress has that review in hand and has had ample time to study its conclusions, which are based on the responses of 115,000 members of our military, and which show that, in the words of Admiral Mullen, ‘our troops and their families are ready for this.’
“In the meantime, this issue has reached the courts. In September, a federal judge in California ruled the policy unconstitutional and ordered the military to stop enforcing DADT, before an appellate court stayed that order pending an appeal that will be heard next year. Without action by Congress, a judge could impose repeal in the very near future, preventing our military from proceeding with the orderly implementation process that will help to assure combat readiness is maintained. I do not believe this is a matter for the courts to decide, and I do not think we can discard literally overnight a policy that has been in effect for 17 years.
“That said, the Pentagon’s very thorough study and plan for implementing repeal has answered many of my questions and eliminated many – though not all – of my concerns. The study’s authors – including General Carter F. Ham, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe – reported that they are ‘convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war.’ The study found that a large majority of the military believes repealing DADT will have little or no effect on readiness and that a large majority has already worked with a gay man or woman without detriment to unit cohesion and effectiveness. Nevertheless, it did not brush over the concerns of some members, and it acknowledges that leadership and careful preparation and education are critical.
“In making my decision, I paid particularly close attention to the carefully considered views and honest testimony of Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen. Secretary Gates made it clear that allowing the courts to act in Congress’s place would be unwise. He stated: ‘There is the very real possibility that this change would be imposed immediately by judicial fiat – by far the most disruptive and damaging scenario I can imagine…Given the present circumstances, those who choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts…The working group’s plan, with its strong emphasis on education, training and leader development, provides a solid road map for a successful full implementation of the repeal…[Repeal] can be done, and it should be done, without posing a serious risk to military readiness.’
“While I would have preferred not to have cast this vote in a lame duck session, Congress previously voted on this issue, the Pentagon’s report is complete, and an appellate court hearing on the matter is looming. I cast my vote after careful consideration, having weighed the evidence, and knowing that our freedom and security depend on the courage, sacrifice, and patriotism of our troops.”
(December 15, 2010)
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