February 4, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Pelosi unsure about 'Don't Ask' repeal this year

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday she’s unsure whether the House will overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year before the Pentagon completes its review on implementing repeal.

“I don’t know,” she said during her weekly press conference. “I’ll have to examine. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see what is the advantage of going first with legislation or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review — or is it a two-step process?”

Asked by DC Agenda about the timeline for repeal, Pelosi said her preference is “to go first with the legislation,” but added, “we’ll have to examine and see what the model is for what the review is.”

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled during congressional testimony plans for a working group that would examine the implications on the U.S. military of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” should Congress repeal the statute. Gates said this review would be complete by the end of this year.

Pelosi said acting on repeal would be “a very positive sign” that would put Congress in alignment with the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and two previous chairmen who’ve said they favor moving toward repeal.

Current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen on Tuesday came out in favor of gays serving openly in the U.S. military, and former Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili has been against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for some time. On Wednesday, Gen. Colin Powell said he backs Gates and Mullen in their approach toward repealing the law.

Pelosi said Mullen gave “courageous testimony” and Powell’s statement was “just wonderful news and validation on this issue.”

Still, Pelosi said “we’ve done most of our heavy lift last year,” suggesting Congress wouldn’t take up in an election year repeal of the 1993 law banning gays from serving openly in the U.S. military.

“You don’t want me to go through it again, do you?” she said. “All the bills that we’ve passed, since one year ago. We’ve done our heavy lift.”

Pelosi said whatever decision is made on the timeline, proponents are “moving forward on it” and said “sooner or later with legislation, we’ll just do what’s best for protecting Americans who want to serve our country and to end discrimination.”

The speaker said opponents of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in Congress can repeal the statute, but added lawmakers want to make sure they’re replacing the law with a non-discrimination policy.

“We have to be careful about how we change it, so that it ends discrimination,” she said. “We can get rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but we want to end discrimination, and that’s why the review has value.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

9 Comments
  • Enough already. Let’s just close the communication gap in the military:

    http://bit.ly/9YNli3

    (social satire)

  • What the Hell is all of this “Heavy Lifting” work that Speaker Pelosi is talking about? The Dems renewed the Ryan White Care Act and they passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, (as a part of the Defense authorization act in the senate) but thats it. They haven’t repealed DOMA or DADT, they haven’t even passed ENDA. The Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act passed the house and senate committees and is ready for a vote in both chambers, but they can’t even be bothered to call it up for a floor vote. Pelosi & Reid are even trying to back out of passing ENDA due to supposed fears that the bill would be filibustered in the senate. The simple truth is, the Dems haven’t really done any heavy lifting and refuse to act on passing the Pro-GLBT legislation, perhaps because they fear we might leave them once it passes. Well somehow I can’t see us defecting over to the GOP, (why in God’s name would we do that) but I can see us dropping the Dems if they don’t stop playing these games with us and our civil rights. Message to Pelosi: PASS THE PRO-GLBT LEGISLATION YOU PROMISED US NOW, or you may really see the big Democratic losses your so worried about when we stop writing checks, stop voluntering, and possibly stay home on Election Day.

  • Now I know what I will say when the DNC calls for a contribution or my Sen Barbara Boxer. I will say ““I don’t know,” “I’ll have to examine.” I am done with the national democratic party until they make some real concrete steps. Hell, they can’t even offer health benefits to gay partners, something that more and more corporations are doing, never mind a simple ENDA. I will help out on the state level but nationally, the house, senate and president can all go to hell.

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