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Center-right and faith-based group Freedom Federation targets 10 senators to oppose repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

Caroline May Reporter

Repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy appears to be a lock. With four moderate Senate Republicans planning to vote for repeal, supporters now have 61 votes — more than the majority needed for passage and enough to to prevent a filibuster. But opponents are going into hyper-drive, attempting to stop what now appears to be inevitable.

The Freedom Federation, a coalition of more than 90 center-right and faith-based organizations that says it represents 40 million constituents, has sent out an internal strategy memo (see below) asking members to target 10 senators considered vulnerable on the issue: Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, and Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Federation aims to lay the blame for any negative effects of repeal at the feet of these senators.

“Moreover, the larger theory of this memo is that once the American public begins to understand the dimensions of this issue, the repercussions for those who favor repeal will be severe,” the letter reads. “Connecticut has a strong veteran community – one that Senator Lieberman, unlike Senator-elect Blumenthal, cannot afford to offend and survive politically.”

According to the Federation’s letter, the politicians will feel constituents’ wrath once their vote is official, particularly in the case of Senator Brown.

“The damage Senator Brown has done himself is already severe, but little public perception exists on the point as of yet. Besides permanently removing himself from consideration for any GOP national ticket, his reversal on this issue during the last year makes him look like just another Massachusetts politician anxious to court the state’s wealthy, elitist left. Many who expected to disagree with him on issues but saw him as a bright new political presence are beyond disappointed,” the Federation writes.

The Federation is encouraging its members to remind the senators of their more conservative constituents and the harm a repeal will bring to the military.

The Memo:

CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM TO FREEDOM FOUNDATION MEMBERS CONCERNING “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” LEGISLATION

TO: Member Organizations of the Freedom Federation

FROM: Mathew Staver

DATE: December 16, 2010

SUBJ: Mobilization to Stop Senate from Overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

This is an urgent communication to inform you about the status of the efforts of the majority-led Democratic Congress to overturn the law that bans open homosexuality in the military, commonly referred to by the subsequent Executive policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

It is also an urgent request for your organization to engage to stop the Senate from overturning DADT.

Where We Are in the Legislative Process

Attached is a December 9, 2010, op-ed by Tony Perkins, Family Research Council President and Marine Corps Veteran, which outlines the stakes in this down-to-the-wire legislative battle over DADT.

On December 9, Senate Democrats failed to win an important procedural vote to cut off debate on the Defense Authorization Bill that contains the legislative language to overturn DADT. The vote was taken so that the Senate could then move to final debate and a final vote.

Sixty votes were required to cut off debate, and the Senate Democratic leadership, under Harry Reid, fell just short with 57 votes. While it was not the final vote, this cloture vote was an important signal of which Senators support overturning DADT.

With the sole exception of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all Senate Democrats voted in support of overturning DADT. Senator Susan Collins from Maine was the sole Republican to vote in support of overturning DADT.

Despite this defeat, Senate Democrats are going to bring up the DADT measure in a separate bill before the lame duck session of Congress ends later this week or next.

And there are plenty of reasons to believe their next effort could be successful.

Republican Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska may vote to overturn DADT next time. All three made pledges that they would not support any other legislation until the vote on the income tax package had been approved by the Congress, which explains why they voted against cloture on December 9. However, press reports have indicated that Brown, Snowe, and Murkowski have made statements that they will support a stand-alone bill (the House Message).

Also, Democratic aides have been quoted as saying that if Senator Manchin were the deciding vote, then he would be likely to vote with his Democratic colleagues to overturn DADT.

As you know, yesterday the House passed a bill repealing DADT. The focus now remains solely on the Senate.

Why We Are At This Point — Analysis

Many in Congress have lost their political antenna. A number of them have been voted out, and this is their last gasp to advance their amoral agenda. Just as any sense of the ultimate political cost of the debt issue or ObamaCare escaped them in the last election, so too they have no real understanding that supporting this legislation can prove a huge source of political vulnerability.

Right now the awareness level of the American public about this issue is low. This may soon change – especially once Senate debate begins. But again, as they did with the stimulus spending and healthcare issue, some in the media will give politicians a false sense of security by continuing to downplay any negative repercussions for proponents. Once military unhappiness begins to manifest itself and the public catches on to the larger agenda at work here, this too will change.

In this regard, understanding Senator Lieberman’s sudden ascension to leadership on this issue can be useful. Anxious for renomination by his own party in Connecticut, he has decided to leverage this issue.

But cynicism has its costs. Senator Lieberman’s remaining years in the Senate will be remembered now for a decision to place the pursuit of personal ambition above the concerns of the U.S. military, including three service chiefs who see this law as perilous and a Marine commandant who states bluntly that its passage will cost the lives of U.S. Marines.

Moreover, the larger theory of this memo is that once the American public begins to understand the dimensions of this issue, the repercussions for those who favor repeal will be severe. Connecticut has a strong veteran community – one that Senator Lieberman, unlike Senator-elect Blumenthal, cannot afford to offend and survive politically.

The damage Senator Brown has done himself is already severe, but little public perception exists on the point as of yet. Besides permanently removing himself from consideration for any GOP national ticket, his reversal on this issue during the last year makes him look like just another Massachusetts politician anxious to court the state’s wealthy, elitist left. Many who expected to disagree with him on issues but saw him as a bright new political presence are beyond disappointed.

Senator Snowe already had primary problems, and she is likely to be surprised by how much energy her opposition will eventually draw from a favorable vote on repeal.

But while this may be costly to some Republicans, the political toll on the other side of the aisle may be close to incalculable. Claire McCaskill is not thinking yet about answering the questions she will have to face at picnics next summer from veterans and religious people. (Though she might remember the statement by fellow-Missourian, Harry Truman, that the worst political mistake he ever made was getting in a public fight with the U.S. Marine Corps.)

And what will Jim Webb say when he campaigns in Norfolk? Or Bill Nelson in Pensacola? Or Jon Tester in Montana? Or Ben Nelson in Nebraska? (Marine commandants don’t matter? Forty percent of Marines thinking about leaving doesn’t count? We knew better than those who wear the uniform what will affect morale, esprit and unit cohesiveness? And the resignation of chaplains isn’t really happening?) Others with a potential problem are Senators Kent Conrad, Robert Casey, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Bingaman, Debbie Stabenow. Indeed, the list goes on.

Questions about weakness on the national security issue or use of the federal government to give expression to the hostility of some towards organized religion are not the way most candidates want to go into the next election. So too, there will be a perception that this is another example of liberal overreach. That like their distrust of doctors or entrepreneurs, some liberals just don’t like the military because they resent anything that works, or that isn’t a victim or dependent, or that won’t conform to their worldview, or that stands in the way of their urge for power.

Finally, there is Senator Reid’s aggressiveness and overreach. A December15 editorial in the Wall Street Journal criticizes the recklessness of the Senate Majority Leader in trying to push so much important legislation through the Senate without proper debate or consideration. Whether or not some senators are offended on constitutional grounds, certainly Senate Democrats up for reelection are probably increasingly uncomfortable that the Journal editorial is the first sign of the same public backlash against this sort of tactics that cost their party in the last election.

What We Can Do Now with Your Help

We need your organization to act now. Ninety-four participating organizations of the Freedom Federation, now representing over 50 million voters, signed a letter opposing the repeal of DADT. Together we collectively can apply the necessary pressure to stop the repeal, but only if we act NOW!

If we make our voices heard in key states in the next 48 hours, we can remind wavering Senators that millions of Americans agree with the heads of the Army, Air Force, and Marines and are opposed to this change in policy.

We can communicate the concern we share with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton, who recently said that overturning DADT could “break” our combat arms.

We can also share our dismay that Congress would give in to the relentless and never-ending attack by liberals on organized religion, biblical morality, and military culture, which is at the heart of the liberal effort to overturn DADT.

Some radical Senators are so possessed with overturning DADT, they are completely indifferent to the tens of thousands of soldiers, marines, and airmen who have indicated they would quit the service if DADT is overturned.

These ideologues are so blind to the survey results that indicate a mass exodus of experienced combat warriors from the military, that they ignore the very real risk that overturning DADT will inevitably lead to a resumption of the draft to fill manpower shortages, as Peter Schweizer has recently written.

Senators need to know that they will be held accountable for how they vote on this issue.

Within the next 48 hours be sure to communicate with your constituencies that the following ten Senators in the following states must be contacted, urging them to vote against overturning DADT:

Ben Nelson – Nebraska

Jon Tester – Montana

Kent Conrad – North Dakota

Joe Manchin – West Virginia

Jim Webb – Virginia

Claire McCaskill – Missouri

Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe – Maine

Scott Brown – Massachusetts

Lisa Murkowski – Alaska

These ten Senators need to get the clear message that each of them will have to choose which set of supporters they want in 2012 when they run for reelection. We need to make the choice very clear.

The number for the Capitol switchboard of the Senate is (202) 224-3121.

For more information see http://militaryculturecoalition.com/.

PERKINS: Listen to the Marines on ‘Don’t Ask’

Democrats failing lame-duck social engineering

By Tony Perkins – The Washington Times

6:34 p.m., Thursday, December 9, 2010

The rush by congressional Democrats to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) – despite the opposition of the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps service chiefs – threatens its advocates with a political backlash from a public that is just beginning to focus on this issue.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartzand Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey all testified in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee that overturning DADT has strong potential to disrupt military readiness and effectiveness and will divert leadership attention away from focusing on preparing units for combat.

Gen. Amos, speaking of the active-duty Marines, said, “We asked for their opinions, and they gave them to us. Their message to me is that the potential exists for disruption to the successful execution of our current combat mission should repeal be implemented at this time.”

Gen. Schwartz echoed these concerns. How are Air Force leaders supposed to deal with the complexity of an air war in Afghanistan if they must turn their focus from fighting to implementing a disruptive new policy? Gen. Casey said that overturning the policy would create additional stress on soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He added that implementing this policy would likely be more difficult than the Pentagon’s recently-released report indicated.

The Pentagon survey on DADT itself revealed that an astonishing 23 percent of Marines said they would definitely quit the Corps sooner than they’d planned and another 15 percent said they would consider leaving sooner than planned if the ban were overturned. In other words, nearly 40 percent of Marines would leave or consider quitting the service early if DADT were overturned.

Proponents claim we are losing highly qualified and much needed service members because of DADT, but last year the Department of Defense reported only 75 Marines were discharged for violating DADT – a quarter of 1 percent of all discharges from theCorps. As Gen. Carl Mundy, former Marine commandant, pointed out, more than half of those were still in entry level training – hardly highly qualified service members. Senators should do the math: 40 percent versus a quarter of 1 percent.

Considering this, how can congressional Democrats even contemplate voting to overturn DADT in a lame-duck session of Congress?

The one prominent military supporter of President Obama’s proposal is his chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen.

But Adm. Mullen’s views are clearly outside of the military mainstream, as his testimony reveals. Adm. Mullen said that “should repeal occur, some soldiers and Marines may want separate shower facilities, some may ask for different berthing, some may even quit the service. We’ll deal with that.”

This statement is breathtaking. The key issue is not separate shower facilities or different berthing, but combat effectiveness. And it’s not just the views of some soldiers and Marines at issue, but those of three service chiefs.

Also astounding is Adm. Mullen’s casual indifference to troops quitting the service. ThePentagon’s own survey reveals that 40 percent of Marines and 25 percent of the Armycould leave. Adm. Mullen testified that “we’ll deal with that,” but presented no plan as to how.

Deliberately draining the military’s manpower during wartime is madness. One would expect this attitude from the dean of Harvard law school, not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Do we really want Marines quitting in wartime and do Democratic lawmakers want to face accusations that they compromised the readiness of our military to appease liberal special-interest groups?

The rashness of the Democratic Party has become habitual. From a rushed-through stimulus package that failed to stimulate the economy to a health care reform bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress had to pass so they could read it and now this lame-duck push on DADT, the willingness of Democrats to rush through liberal agenda items knows no bounds.

But possible policy consequences of overturning DADT aside, Democrats should remember that 63 House members were fired from Congress because they obeyed Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid instead of the American people. The 23 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2012 might want to consider how they will address veterans groups and religious organizations regarding their vote.

On Nov. 2, the American people rejected this rush mentality to passing legislation. Liberals are demanding that DADT be overturned now, but the Marines say no. We stand with the Marines, and so do the vast majority of the American people. Yesterday’s cloture vote means the message might be getting through.

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council and a veteran of the Marine Corps. The Family Research Council and other members of the Freedom Federation wrote senators asking them to delay a vote until the new Congress.