Monday, June 22, 2009

Remembering Due Diligence

A friend of mine who had been at DLI the same time as I and has since gotten out of the Army and dedicated himself to fighting against Don't Ask/Don't Tell posted the following on facebook. I think it outlines very well the fight he's been waging, as well as proves that one person can make a difference. It's also a call to action for those of us who care to make change:

HR 1059. This was the original Military Readiness Enhancement Act, introduced by Marty Meehan of Massachusetts in 2005. When learning media sound bites in that rush between getting out of the Army in November of 2005 and launching the Call To Duty tour the following February, supporting

HR 1059 was a pretty good stock answer to any sort of inquiry regarding what can be done. I don’t think it ever exceeded 130 cosponsors, and we never saw it as a viable bill. Still, it was some movement in Congress – certainly more than in the past 10 or so years – and the beginning of the real movement for repeal. It seemed I had entered activism at just the right time.

HR 1246. This was the second bill introduced by Marty Meehan, still called the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. Marty would lead the bill until he left a seat that would eventually be filled by Nancy Tsongas, and the bill would be passed on to Ellen Tauscher of California. We still didn’t believe the bill was going anywhere, and served mostly as a means to bring attention to the issue and to gauge Congressional support. Again we instructed people to encourage their representative to sign on, and to just be more active in the movement in general. The bill maxed out at 149 cosponsors before it expired and, like its predecessor, never left committee. Though a few court cases existed challenging ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ on various grounds, repealing DADT in the 110th Congress was never viable.

HR 1283. This is the third iteration of MREA, this time introduced by Tauscher. Word is Patrick Murphy of Colorado will be taking over the bill soon, but the exact date won’t be known until Tauscher is confirmed in her new prospective space in the State Department. The bill already has 147 cosponsors, and for some reason the repeal community is much more optimistic about this bill than the last two. Perhaps a progressive intellectual President encourages that optimism. Or maybe edging so close to 150 cosponsors creates a certain excitement that we didn’t allow ourselves to feel before. I suspect a little of both, combined with the fact that the public, at least in this scenario, seems to be way ahead of Congress in terms of opinions on repeal. Regardless, the energy in the move for repeal seems to be bringing attention to options other than MREA and the courts that are at the very least intriguing.

Whatever path we choose, a real debate over repeal is brewing. Are we ready? Who knows. I think the momentum is such that we had better hope we are, as I don’t think we’ll have much of a choice otherwise. I know I myself wasn’t expecting this debate for at least another few years, and I think most who say otherwise are either lying or were simply idealistic these past few years.

I have to admit I’m a little nervous. This issue can quickly get out of hand, and the debate, if we’re not careful, can easily be reduced to ridiculous vitriol that is neither relevant nor productive. Jumping at any easy fix is not always beneficial in the short term, and risks must be carefully weighed. We need to be vigilant, we need to be strategic, and we need to be smart.

Fifteen years of hard work is resting on the next few decisions that are made regarding DADT. Let’s proceed with aggressive optimism, but more importantly, let’s proceed with prudence and due diligence.


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