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Reid my lips: no forgiveness if no NDAA in September

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from the beginning has been to prepare for when this outdated law is repealed,
not for whether it is repealed.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.

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