Why Is John McCain Blocking Military Input on Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

Senator John McCain's positions usually translate into pro-military stances, but not his current objection to Senate action on 'don't ask, don't tell.' The Senator is currently blocking a floor vote that gives military leaders input into the implementation of repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' As a result, his objections make embracing the judicial injunction anticipated by Judge Phillips the most reasonable course of action. Rachel Maddow and Lt. Dan Choi are just two of the many who are urging the Administration to provide a legal solution to repeal by letting this ruling stand. The alternative is to continue a failed policy that is harmful to the military and continues to cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

In short, Senator McCain is taking repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' out of the hands of the Department of Defense and Congress and placing it in the hands of a judge whose ruling he opposes. Part of his objection is his concern that the Service Chiefs in the Pentagon have not been consulted more. But just last month, the lead objector Marine Corps Commandant General Conway stated that despite any opposition he might have, the Marine Corps would lead all of the Services in implementation of openly gay service.

Senator McCain's actions may mean that Commandant Conway has less input as he stalls legislation on the heels of a potential injunction by Judge Phillips. The upcoming vote on the Defense Authorization Act and repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' is conditional. Repeal only takes place after a number of triggers, including the December 1st report from a Department of Defense Working Group, certification by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, and President Obama. This Report also includes feedback and comments from the Service Chiefs. After this takes place, the Congress then has sixty days to review before repeal becomes law.

This legislative proposal is reasoned, measured and engages troops. Troops have been consulted and leadership from the White House, the Pentagon, and from within the military has set the tone. This is a conversation that has continued for seventeen years, and there is no shortage of support for repeal from all corners, including from conservatives such as Liz Cheney, John Bolton, Colin Powell, and Bill O'Reilly. The time has come to vote.

Senator McCain has a choice: to scuttle the legislative process and block military input, thus handing this decision to Judge Phillips, or to allow the Senate to deliberate on this issue in the light of day.