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Posted by on Jun 5, 2009 in Politics, Religion, Society | 7 comments

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Heats Up

Yesterday afternoon Jason Bellini of The Daily Beast said that gay rights leaders had made a deal to wait on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He said that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “let slip” to a number of gay leaders that the Human Rights Campaign told him that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not the White House’s priority:

Last night Andy Towle got another statement from HRC denying the report:

“This story is not only an outright lie, it is recklessly irresponsible. HRC never made such a deal and continues to work with congress and the administration on a full range of equality issues including a swift end to the military’s shameful ban on gay servicemembers.”

Pam Spaulding is among those activists who have about had it with HRC. She wants action and details the goings on of recent days. Chris Crain thinks they doth protest too much. (Towle’s take here.)

Meanwhile, early this afternoon Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.), President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of the Army, told Roll Call’s Jennifer Bendery that he will support the president’s position on repealing DADT:

“I have no interest as either a Member of Congress or as … secretary of the Army to exclude by some categorization a group of people otherwise qualified to serve,” McHugh told Roll Call.

He noted that the Armed Services Committee has not considered the policy “in any formal way” since 1993. In the meantime, “certainly, the recruiting-age population’s views have changed on that whole matter,” he said.

Still, McHugh said he will refrain from giving his personal view on the policy until he is called into Senate confirmation hearings. “I want to defer to them. They have that right. To respond before they ask, I think, is disrespectful,” he said.

So the question’s not if but when. You’ve got to wonder if McHugh had seen this from Gallup:

Americans are six percentage points more likely than they were four years ago to favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military, 69% to 63%. While liberals and Democrats remain the most supportive, the biggest increase in support has been among conservatives and weekly churchgoers — up 12 and 11 percentage points, respectively.

Emphasis mine.

It’s hard not to see that DADT and marriage equality interrelate. Can we justify giving gay people the obligatory “right” to serve, while at the same time depriving them of the benefits of marriage? My guess is that once the American public sees and accepts lesbian and gay people serving openly in the military, their support for marriage equality will follow closely behind. Neither is very far away.