Murkowski & DADT: Turn up the heat

Sen. Lisa Murkowski on DADT in June this year. Click through to read the letter.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski on DADT in June this year. Click through to read the letter. h/t M.D.

Regardless of the outcome of the ballot-counting still in progress in Juneau in Alaska election for U.S. Senate, the incumbent, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is still Sen. Lisa Murkowski today as Congress convenes for its “lame duck” session.

And it’s time to turn the heat up on her regarding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Here’s what she wrote to Bert Mead of the Alaska LGBT Democratic Caucus on June 12, 2010:

Thank you for contacting me about the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond.

President Obama called for an end to this policy in his State of the Union address on January 27, 2010, but he did not provide specifics. On February 2,2010, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that he had begun a review of the proposed change and indicated that the review would take roughly one year.

On March 25, 2010, Secretary Gates announced the Department of Defense would enact new enforcement guidelines while the review was underway. Under the new rules, only highranking officers can initiate a fact-finding inquiry or order a discharge. Additionally, the military will now restrict the kind of evidence that can be used against gay service members. Most anonymous complaints will be barred, and those who file complaints will have to give statements under oath.

I believe it is important that Secretary Gates complete a full review of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy before Congress takes action. If the Senate does consider making changes to the policy, I will keep your concerns in mind. [Ref #1]

In other words, she chose not to take any position until the Department of Defense review initiated by Secretary Gates was completed.

Now it has been, and details that have been leaked prior to its official release make it clear that DoD’s report reports little to no risking in getting rid of DADT:

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them. [Ref #2]

There you have your answer, Sen. Murkowski.  Little to no risk according to troops’ own evaluation.  A call from Secretary Gates himself to repeal DADT during the lame duck session (Gates says that repeal is inevitable, but that repeal by Congress will be less messy and disruptive to the military than the alternative in the courts). [Ref #3] And meantime, 70 percent of U.S. adults nationally — including 53 percent of self-described conservatives and 60 percent of Republicans — agree that gay men and lesbian soldiers and sailors should be able to serve openly in the military. [Ref #4]

No more pussyfooting around.  It’s time to turn the heat up on Lisa Murkowski. In fact, it’s time we call both our Senators — Mark Begich also needs to hear from us — to let both of them know that the National Defense Authorization Act needs to be passed intact, including repeal of the draconian “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Earlier today I posted on Bent Alaska a post called “URGENT: Call Sens. Begich and Murkowski on DADT now!” which has full details on what we need to do. [Ref #5] But here’s the most pertinent part:

Call Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Begich on Monday or Tuesday THIS WEEK and deliver this message:

“Hi, my name’s [NAME] and I live in [TOWN]. I support all our servicemembers and they deserve to have the National Defense Authorization Act passed this year with funding for our troops, pay increases and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell included. I urge Sen. Murkowski/Sen. Begich to vote for cloture and final passage of this bill.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
202-224-6665 (DC)
877-829-6030 (toll free)

Sen. Mark Begich
202-224-3004 (DC)
877-501-6275 (toll free)


  1. 6/21/2010. Letter from Sen. Lisa Murkowski to Bert R. Mead re: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
  2. 11/11/10. “Report: Little risk to lifting gay ban” by Ed O’Keefe and Greg Jaffe (Washington Post).
  3. 11/10/10. “Robert Gates: ‘Don’t ask’ repeal inevitable” by Scott Wong (Politico).
  4. 11/8/10. “DADT on the Chopping Block?” by Kevin Drum (Mother Jones).
  5. 11/15/10. “URGENT: Call Sens. Begich and Murkowski on DADT now!” (Bent Alaska).
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