The End of DADT is Near
We have some genuinely good news today. President Obama promised in his State of the Union address to work with Congress this year to "finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." He hasn't exactly been a ball of fire on this topic since then, however, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, though plainly in favor of repealing DADT, wants to wait until the Pentagon has finished studying how to implement repeal later this year. Meanwhile, Sen. Carl Levin has promised to put repeal in this year's Senate's annual defense spending bill but Rep. Ike Skelton hasn't been keen on doing the same thing in the House bill.
But now it appears we have a deal:
Under the compromise, worked out in a series of meetings Monday at the White House and on Capitol Hill, lawmakers will proceed to repeal the Clinton-era policy in the next several days, but that action will not go into effect until the Pentagon completes a study about implementing the repeal.
In a letter to lawmakers pushing for a repeal, the White House wrote Monday that "such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions."
This is actually not much of a compromise. It's basically a complete win the DADT repeal forces, since implementation always would have taken some time no matter when repeal was passed. Pelosi and Reid already support repeal, and now, with Obama's active support, the chances of getting it through Congress are excellent. Adam Weinstein has more here.
So if things go the way I think they'll go, by later this year Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will have passed a historic stimulus bill, the Lily Ledbetter Act, healthcare reform, college loan reform, financial reform, repeal of DADT, and Obama will have withdrawn from Iraq.1 Not bad for 18 months of work. And who knows? There's even a chance that Obama's Afghanistan escalation will work. If it does, what president since LBJ will have accomplished more in his first term?
1Except for the pesky "residual force," of course. Still, once the combat forces are gone, it's hard to see a scenario in which they're ever sent back in.