DADT repeal certified, & Sen. Begich’s remarks on DADT at Anchorage Pride
by Mel Green
Seven months after DADT repeal was signed into law, it’s finally being certified! This seems like a good time to post our video of Sen. Begich’s remarks at Anchorage Pride, and to again thank him and Sen. Murkowski for their votes to end this draconian law.
Update 12:11 PM: DADT repeal has now been officially certified. 60 days before DADT is gone altogether.
Last month, on June 25, Sen. Mark Begich joined Anchorage’s LGBTQA community at Delaney Park Strip for our Pride festival. (Though somehow his appearance at Pride missed his listing of events he attended in Anchorage that weekend. See note below.)
At Pridefest, Sen. Begich shared remarks about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). We took video, and — with the news that the Pentagon will certify repeal of DADT today — today seems a really good time to share it.
Both Sen. Begich and Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted last December to repeal DADT. Thank you, Senators Begich and Murkowski. Alaska’s lone Congressman, Don Young, voted against repeal. Rep. Young: no thanks to you this time. President Obama signed the repeal into law exactly seven months ago today, on December 22, 2010. Thank you, President Obama.
It’s been a long road since then. The repeal legislation required the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “certify” that the military was ready for repeal; and even after that certification occurs — as
is expected to happen later happened today — DADT won’t actually go away for another 60 days, presumably on September 20.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) issued a press release last night following news reports about the imminent certification of repeal:
SLDN Responds to Reports of DADT Certification Tomorrow
(Washington, D.C.) Tonight, Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis issued the following statement in response to reports that certification of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the Pentagon will be announced on Friday:
“This Pentagon certification received by the White House this afternoon is welcomed by gay and lesbian service members who have had to serve their country in silence for far too long. The troops and their commanders are ready. Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead. The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”
SLDN cautions servicemembers that it’s still unsafe for service members to come out until 60 days after certification. Until then, DADT is still the law. LGBT/POV points out some other hitches to the certification.
Meanwhile, Metroweekly reports that Log Cabin Republicans will continues to press a court challenge against DADT. Among the issues:
… LCR argues that certification and subsequent repeal do not end matters, noting, that — in addition to the injunction it sought — U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips’s judgment in the case included a declaration that “DADT infringes the fundamental rights of current and prospective servicemembers and violates their Fifth Amendment due process rights and their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and petition.”
Accordingly, Woods writes, “Because individuals who were discharged under DADT during the 17 years that statute has been in effect continue to this day to sustain identifiable collateral consequences from their unconstitutional discharges, a substantial controversy continues to exist between the parties that will not be removed by repeal and the case will not then be moot.”
DADT’s imminent demise is cause for celebration, but there will still be gaps in the law. As the National Center for Transgender Equality points out, transgender servicemembers still will be unable to serve openly. That, too, must change.
Note on Sen. Begich’s Pride appearance
At Sen. Begich’s Facebook photo album for “Weekend in Anchorage 6/24 – 6/26,” Sen. Begich wrote, “Spending the weekend at home in Alaska gave me the chance to connect with new and old friends. Thanks to the Alaska Aces, RurAL CAP, the Anchorage Parks Foundation, the Anchorage Korean Community and the Letter Carriers for hosting me at your events.”
I commented on July 6, “We were glad to see you at Alaska Pridefest on June 25, and to hear about some of what you’ve done to advance LGBT equality with your votes on DADT repeal and other federal legislation. Somehow your appearance missed the list of events you attended that weekend.”Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), servicemembers & veterans