Senator Udall: Repeal DADT this year

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton yesterday refused answer a question about whether President Obama would try to lift the ban this year. Burton joins White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who refused to answer the question twice when asked by Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld, and the President of the United States, who for one month now has been stonewalling Congressman Barney Frank, who also asked the President to reiterate that he wants repeal this year.

The President famously committed to lifting the ban this year in his State of the Union. He reiterated the words “this year” twice. Now, the White House is loathe to restate that same commitment. And with the coming elections in November expecting to wipe out significant numbers of Democrats, every political observer I know is concerned about whether Dems will have the numbers, and the will, to take on any gay rights promises for years to come.

With that context, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)’s press conference yesterday was quite remarkable. The event included three vets discharged under DADT: Mike Almy, Stacy Vasquez, and David Hall. Udall serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, so he plays a key role in the legislative strategy to end the ban. His message was yesterday clear: Repeal DADT this year.

Udall explained his thinking on his blog:

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is harmful to our national security and readiness—especially since we are embroiled in two wars. And I believe the stories of these former service members reinforce the need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The Pentagon is studying how to implement an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and while I agree that is a necessary step, I also believe strongly that we must repeal it this year. I will continue to work with other senators to ensure that the repeal is included in the Defense Authorization bill, which will be marked up in the Senate Armed Services Committee next month. (emphasis added) But we still face an uphill battle, and we will need a bipartisan push to clinch this urgent effort. The stories these dismissed service members told me today are extremely powerful and compelling, and they’ll help as I urge my colleagues to support repeal. The countless men and women who currently are unable to serve our country honestly deserve a change. And I believe it’s imperative for our national security.

Here’s a photo of the meeting with Udall. Seated on the couch from left to right are Stacy Vasquez, David Hall and Mike Almy.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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