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House Republicans make final push to delay ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal

Thursday, September 15, 2011
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WASHINGTON — The two ranking Republicans on U.S. House Armed Services Committee have asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 20, claiming that certain regulations regarding military benefits for same sex couples have not been revised.

In a letter dated Monday, Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and Rep. Joe Wilson, (R-S.C.), who chairs the Military Personnel subcommittee, wrote that the government’s decision to certify the end of the policy on July 22 was “inaccurate” because the House has “not received copies of the revised regulations and a summary of all the specific policy changes.”

“Mr. Secretary, we trust that you will see the risk of moving forward with repeal without giving service members and their leaders adequate time to study, understand and prepare themselves to implement the revised policies and regulations they will need to be successful,” the letter reads.

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“The Department is not ready to implement the repeal because all the policies and regulations necessary for the transition are not yet final. We would ask that the senior military leaders’ memoranda immediately be made public and transmitted to the Committee on Armed Services.”

The request has previously been denied by the Defense Department, and in response, the Pentagon issued this statement:

“The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will occur, in accordance with the law and after a rigorous certification process, on September 20. Senior Department of Defense officials have advised Congress of changes to regulations and policies associated with repeal. We take that obligation seriously.”

On Thursday, General Carter Ham, Commander of U.S. Armed Forces Europe — who was co-chair of the Pentagon’s study group that examined the effects on military services if “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed — predicted that lifting the ban against open service by gay and lesbian service members is probably going to prove “pretty inconsequential.”

Ham told the Associated Press that conservative groups may still speak out in support of the policy, but those whom are inside the military will adopt a “business-as-usual” attitude.

“This is another example of the hardcore opposition attempting to delay or undo ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a statement.

“I expect they will continue to look for openings to deny gay and lesbian service members the same rights and dignity as their straight counterparts. On the substance, Mr. McKeon and Mr. Wilson are simply wrong. The statute only requires that the new regulations be prepared — not issued — before certification,” Sarvis said.

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