Panetta to Certify DADT Repeal Today

July 22, 2011
by Bryant Jordan,

Newly appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to formally certify today that the services are ready to implement the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the 17-year-old law that barred homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

The move comes just three weeks after he was formally sworn into office and little more than a week after the service chiefs certified the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force were ready to implement repeal. It’s anticipated that Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will likewise certify today that there will be no harm to military readiness by ending the ban, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.

With those actions it remains now for Obama to make his own certification to Congress in order to start a 60-day countdown to the law’s full repeal.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which was formed in 1993 to oppose Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, said Thursday night that Panetta’s certification is welcomed by gay and lesbian troops who have had to keep their sexual orientation a secret to serve.

“The troops and their commanders are ready,” he said. “Our nation’s top military leaders have testified that commanders see no significant challenges ahead.  The official certification to Congress that the armed forces are prepared for the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should go to Capitol Hill tomorrow with the President’s signature.”

What seems at this point rapid final certification by all parties should make moot a back-and-forth between the courts and the Justice Department over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

After the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal earlier this month lifted a stay on its own ruling ordering the Defense Department to stop enforcing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Justice Department announced it would request an emergency stay to keep the ban in place.

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