Defense Secretary Robert Gates has released a video seeking to reassure members of the military as Congress moves toward possibly authorizing repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
The repeal, if passed, would not go into effect until after completion of a Pentagon review on the impact of eliminating the policy and subsequent approval from Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and President Obama to move forward.
In the video, Gates asks members of the military for guidance on "how to do this right" and insists no change is imminent.
The Pentagon review is set to be completed by December first.
"While it appears likely that Congress will eventually change the 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' law, we do not expect the legislation that would do this to be presented to the president for months -- perhaps not until the end of the year," Gates said, noting that the repeal is deferred.
"While this process plays out over time, nothing will change in terms of our current policies and practices," he adds. "Current law, policies and regulations remain in place, and we are obligated to abide by them as before."
The House voted today to repeal the policy, which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, pending the review and approvals. A spirited debate is expected on the matter sometime this summer in the Senate, with some Republicans promising to filibuster the attempt to attach repeal to the pending defense spending bill.
Watch the video of Gates below.Continue »
Updated 5:15 p.m. Eastern
Earlier this week, gay rights groups, congressional leaders and the White House worked out a deal to pass a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
The plan was this: The House and Senate would vote this week to include repeal as part of the (essential) defense authorization bill, which authorizes billions in spending for American troops. It would not go into effect, however, until (1) a Pentagon study on the impact of repeal is finished on December 1st, and (2) President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen approve moving forward based on the study's findings.
That way, the thinking went, they could pass repeal before expected Democratic losses in the November midterm elections - but not enact it until after the Pentagon study is finished. The hope was to get repeal attached to the bill in both houses of Congress before the Memorial Day recess.
Yet not long after the deal became public, momentum seemed to shift away from it getting done. This morning, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, put out a statement that he does "not support the idea of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell before our military members and commanders complete their review."
"This so-called compromise would repeal the legislation first then receive input from the military," he said. "This is not the proper way to change any policy, particularly something as controversial as Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
This afternoon, Sen. John McCain, an opponent of repeal, released letters from the heads of the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy opposing the repeal plan, the Weekly Standard reports.
"...repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward," said Army General George W. Casey, Jr.
This isn't necessarily how the White House planned it. But it'll have to do.
Last night, the White House Budget Director Peter Orszag informed members of Congress backing a repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that the administration is backing their proposal to repeal the policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
Here's how repeal would happen under the plan: The House and Senate would vote this week to include repeal as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. But repeal would not go into effect until (1) a Pentagon study on the impact of repeal is finished on December 1st, and (2) President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen approve moving forward based on its findings.
It is not known how long this process could take, though it has the potential to be drawn out for years.
Still, gay rights advocates are celebrating what they see as the light at the end of the tunnel. The repeal plan was finalized yesterday in a series of meetings between gay rights groups and White House and Congressional officials.
The White House and military did not appear to want to deal with the issue now: Gates, in particular, has pushed for Congress not to take action until after the review is completed, and the White House has taken pains to enact repeal in close coordination with the military.Continue »
Updated 10:08 p.m. Eastern
Gay rights groups met with White House and congressional leaders this morning to discuss a potentially-imminent repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
The impetus for the meetings is a push in Congress, which passed the measure under President Bill Clinton, to add a repeal of the policy to the upcoming defense authorization bill.
Repeal "had been on a slow track awaiting completion of a Pentagon study at the end of this year," reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin. "Gay rights proponents and their Democratic allies on Capitol Hill and in the White House have decided it's now or not for a very long time since the elections this fall are expected to bring in a more conservative, more Republican Congress."
On Thursday, as the Washington Post reports, the Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on adding the repeal provision to the bill; the House may also vote on the matter this week.
While repeal could pass via the defense authorization bill, it would reportedly not go into effect under the pending deal until after the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff review an ongoing Pentagon study into the impact of repeal. That review is set to be completed by December 1st.
The president and military brass must approve moving forward after the review comes back, and implimentation of repeal could take years.
It "did not happen," a senior administration official told CBS Radio News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
According to the two-paragraph April 14 report in L'Express, which does not quote the alleged letter directly nor say where the information comes from, the correspondence was delivered by Sarkozy on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Washington about a week ago.
Above: President Obama greets French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the official arrivals for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 12, 2010.
In it, according to L'Express, Polanski asked Mr. Obama to end the extradition process by which California authorities are seeking to bring him back from Switzerland to face the child rape charges.
L'Express claimed that the director argued in his appeal that two months spent under house arrest in Switzerland (where he remains today), combined with 47 days he was locked up in California in 1977 should be sufficient as "time served," and that the case against him should be dropped.
The French article, which has not garnered great interest in France, has been picked up by some American blogs and at least one tabloid in Great Britain, prompting the White House response.
Mr. Obama's power to influence the case would be relatively minimal under U.S. law, as the case resides in California's court system. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not intervened.
Hours earlier, the court rejected an appeal by Samantha Geimer, the woman who Polanski (seen above) is accused of drugging and raping in a hot-tub when she was just 13, to have the charges dismissed.
The court decisions in California make Polanski's pending extradition to California more likely.
Six people in military uniforms, including Lt. Dan Choi, handcuffed themselves to the North Lawn fence of the White House today to protest the fact that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has not been repealed.
U.S. Park Police cleared the area and used chain cutters to place the demonstrators under arrest, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports.
Choi, at left, is an openly gay Iraq war veteran and West Point graduate who has emerged as one of the most prominent critics of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Choi, who announced he is gay on television last march, was also arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence last month.
A group called GetEQUAL, which appears to have organized today's action, posted a statement calling on President Obama to repeal the policy immediately through action connected to the upcoming Defense Authorization Bill.
"President Obama knows that the DAB provides a way to repeal DADT immediately," Get Equal says. "And he knows that repealing the policy quickly and decisively is the right thing to do for LGBT servicemembers and for all of the armed forces. But recent reports suggest that the Administration is trying to delay any law change until December or even later."Continue »
Updated April 15th at 5:37 p.m. Eastern Time
Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that he is optimistic about the passage this year of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which bans discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
With the House Committee on Education and Labor poised to consider the bill, a group called the Traditional Values Coalition, which bills itself as "the largest non-denominational, grassroots church lobby in America," sent out a press release warning of the consequences of passage.
Because it protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, the bill will "force public schools to allow transgendered individuals to teach in the classroom," according to the Coalition, which says it speaks on behalf of more than 43,000 churches.
"Every state will be forced to recognize transgendered and transsexual individuals as part of a protected class," it said in a statement. "Schools will then be forbidden to reassign any teacher undergoing a so-called sex change because this would be considered 'discrimination.' Thus, children will be trapped in classes taught by men undergoing a so-called sex change to become women and will be taught that it's normal behavior." (Emphasis theirs.)
The bill "protects what is listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness, Gender Identity Disorder (GID)," argues Andrea Lafferty, the coalition's Executive Director. "Teachers have a direct, daily influence on children and to employ such individuals while at the same time overriding the laws of 38 states is unacceptable and dangerous." (38 states do not have laws banning workplace discrimination based on gender identity.)
In an e-mail to Hotsheet, Michael Cole, a spokesperson for the LGBT-rights group Human Rights Campaign, said the Coalition was engaging in "scare tactics."Continue »
Love him or hate him, you might be jealous of him.
According to Forbes Magazine, the influential and controversial Fox News political commentator Glenn Beck raked in over $32 million during the past 12 months ending in March.
With 34 full-time staff who help turn Beck's words into profits, Beck has managed to make a small fortune in all types of media ventures --including TV, books, radio, digital sales and speaking fees.
The report says the bulk of the money, $13 million, comes from sales of Beck's books plus a ten-issue-a-year magazine called Fusion. His nationally syndicated three-hour radio show, The Glenn Beck Program, brings in $10 million a year. He gets $4 million from digital sales including a newsletter and the ads from Glennbeck.com, and he makes about $3 million from speaking fees and events like his "Bold Fresh Tour" with Bill O'Reilly.
Interestingly enough, Beck's contract with Fox News is his least lucrative according to Forbes, only bringing in $2 million a year but attracting an audience of just fewer than three million people.
Beck told Forbes his extreme ability to multi-task is a blessing and a curse, and that he's "riddled with ADD."
Beck said he's more interested in the business than the politics of what he does.
"I could give a flying crap about the political process," he said, "We're an entertainment company."Katie Couric Interviews Glenn Beck
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As part of the White House push to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, the Pentagon is conducting a study on the impact of repealing the policy.
The two men in charge of the study, Gen. Carter F. Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, have been instructed to speak to rank and file members of the military to get their opinions about repeal -- including service members who are gay.
But therein lies a problem: If a member of the military tells the Pentagon they are gay, they are, essentially, telling -- and thus risking being kicked out of the armed forces. (By the same token, those conducting the survey are not supposed to be asking.)
The solution? Get a third-party pollster to do the questioning. The Washington Post interviewed Ham, who said the study will likely reach out to gay service members through an outside group.Continue »
Commandant Gen. James Conway, the top officer in the Marine Corps, told Military.com Friday that straight soldiers will not be asked to share rooms on base with openly gay soldiers if the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is repealed.
"We want to continue [two-person rooms], but I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it," Conway said. "And to me that means we have to build BEQs [bachelor enlisted quarters] and have single rooms."
Other branches of the military already house people in single rooms.
"The overwhelming number of Marines have significant concerns" about living with openly gay troops and other issues tied to repeal of the policy, added Conway, who opposes a change to the law.
"If perception is reality, we just think our Corps would not want to see a change," he said.
Conway is the second high-ranking military official this month to publicly pour cold water on the change in policy, which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called "the right thing to do."Continue »
Because he campaigned on promises to make the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, to close the loophole that allows unlicensed dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without background checks and promote other so-called "commonsense measures," gun rights advocates have been wary of President Obama.
The few gun-related measures to come out of Washington in the past year, however, have been mostly in favor of bolder gun rights, such as the law that just went into effect that allows loaded guns in national parks.
The new rule allows people to carry firearms, including semi-automatic weapons, in most national parks and wildlife refuges, so long as they follow the gun laws of the state. (That could get a little complicated, as more than 30 parks occupy land in multiple states.) As the Los Angeles Times points out, that means people can now carry concealed weapons while camping in places like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
Critics, including former directors of the National Park Service, complain that the rule marks parks more dangerous: They argue that the decision to overturn a 1983 law visitors mandating that visitors had to unload and disassemble their guns and place them somewhere not-easily-accessible increases the prospect of violence. The new rule is "a risky change that will endanger families, hikers, those who work in these places and the park rangers themselves," as a Ventura County Star editorial put it.
Sorba is immediately booed for his statement, prompting him to say, "bring it, bring it, I love it, I love it."
"Guess what," he says, "civil rights are grounded in natural rights, natural rights are grounded in human nature, human nature is a rational substance in relationship, the intelligible end of the reproductive act is reproduction. Do you understand that? Civil rights, when they conflict with natural rights, are contrary."
"I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity," he said in a statement Monday in which he noted his longtime opposition to the policy.
"To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause," said Lieberman, who has angered liberals with his resistance to Democratic orthodoxy on issues like health care reform.
Two in three say the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning openly gay service members amounts to discrimination.
Voters from military households were split on a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Democrats overwhelmingly backed repeal, while Republicans oppose it 53 percent to 40 percent. Independents backed repeal 56 percent to 37 percent.