Hastings Withdraws DADT Amendment After White House, Congressional Pressure


Rep. Hastings (D-FL)

From the member of Congress who’s already sent a letter to President Obama asking for action from the White House on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a stark development today.  From a statement from Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida:

“I introduced an amendment to H.R. 3326, now withdrawn, prohibiting the use of funds in this bill to investigate or discharge our dedicated service men and women on the grounds of ‘telling’ their sexual orientation.  The Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces – commonly called ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – provides that a service member can be separated from the Armed Forces for stating that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual.  Due to pressure from some of my Congressional colleagues and from the White House, I have withdrawn my amendment.  I would, however, like to note that it is most unfortunate that we are not addressing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at this time.  We should not be appropriating funds to enable qualified service members to be booted out just because they are honest about whom they are.

The amendment was almost classically simple:

SEC. 10001. None of the funds appropriated or other wise made available by this Act may be used to carry out or enforce subsection (b)(2) of section 654 of title 10, United States Code.

The question, of course, is who.

Who in the White House and which of his colleagues believe continued funding is needed so that the military can continue to enforce Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

The second question, though of a completely different nature, is:  Why are we only hearing about this after it was withdrawn?  Did anyone note that Hastings was doing this?  Because if so, I totally missed it.

[UPDATE: Alex Nicholson, the executive director of Servicemembers United, said in an e-mail that "the idea to 'cut funding' for DADT is more symbolic than substantive, since DADT is not a line item in the defense budget or a funded initiative to begin with. While there are stepping-stone options that would substantively forward the goal of full repeal and that are politically viable, this is not one of them in its current form."

It appears, at least to some, that the reason we'd not heard about this amendment is that it was not an amendment supported by [all of those] those working on repeal efforts.  While Sean Bugg points the finger at Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in a “gay avoidance” sense for the pressure to withdraw this amendment, it’s possible that the call to pull it came from people — whether Rahm or otherwise — who strongly support an end to the policy and just didn’t see this as an effort that would help reach that goal.]

[H/T to @HeatherKara.]

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About the Author

Chris Geidner is the award-winning senior political & legal reporter at BuzzFeed and has written for Metro Weekly, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect, Advocate.com, Salon and other publications, as well as at his blog, Law Dork. He has appeared regularly on television commenting on current affairs, including MSNBC, PBS, HLN & Current. Prior to moving to D.C. in 2009, he served as an attorney on the senior staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office and had earlier worked for a leading Columbus law firm. An extended biography can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter.