Only one path is responsible and righteous, not only with respect to those who continue to live under the arbitrary and unnecessary cloud of fear created by the discriminatory DADT law, but also with respect to the hundreds of thousands of other troops whose pay and equipment funding is wrapped up in this bill. The choice could not be clearer. Failure to bring up NDAA in September will be an abdication of leadership and responsibility and a betrayal of the generous overtures of support that Senator Reid has made to gay troops and veterans and to his own supporters on this issue of late.
The repeal of the DADT law enjoys a remarkably high level of public support, consistently polling at nearly 80% on scientifically valid polls. A majority of Republicans, weekly church-goers, and even Tea Partiers now support repeal, not to mention overwhelming majorities of Democrats and Independents. Few other issues on the political radar can claim such overwhelming support by such a politically diverse array of Americans. These extraordinary numbers belie the ongoing delay and obstruction.
An internal Pentagon working group is already in place to identify any potential issues with managing repeal and to create the necessary regulations to ensure a smooth transition to a stronger post-DADT military. Lawmakers should not distrust the Pentagon's ability to do its work by trying to delay this vote until after the working group's report is finished. The working group's charge from the beginning has been to prepare for when this outdated law is repealed, not for whether it is repealed.
Likewise, the Democratic leadership in the Senate should not delay the consideration of this very important bill. Enough support for the bill currently exists to break a filibuster, so the attempts by Senator Reid's office to blame Senator McCain for the delay falls flat. Senator McCain is the de facto leader of the those opposed repealing the DADT law, and he will surely try to impede progress on this bill. But the overwhelming majority of both Americans and U.S. senators oppose Senator McCain's tactics, especially a filibuster, so there is simply no excuse for Senator Reid to delay a vote on NDAA any longer.
The recent federal court decision that declared the DADT law unconstitutional should illuminate the writing on the wall for all who still want to attach their names and legacies to the obstruction of this policy's impending demise. I was proud to be the sole named injured party in that lawsuit and to represent all gay and lesbian troops and veterans who have been harmed by this unnecessary law in its recent victory. And I am proud to continue to take the strongest of stances against further legislative delay as well.
The defense authorization bill deserves consideration and a resolution in September. Anything short of that will be unforgivable, even if we ultimately prevail at a later date.
Alexander Nicholson is the founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United, which is the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, and the Servicemembers United Action Fund.