Yesterday, Knights Out, a military and veterans advocacy group comprised of West Point graduates who are gay and their supporters, delivered an explanation of their controversial support of a proposal to go ahead with approving the Defense Authorization Bill even if it doesn’t include language for the repeal of DADT.

Almost immediately after it was revealed that the Palm Center at the University of California had given the ok to drop DADT repeal from the Defense Authorization package, gay rights advocates began blogging about how the Palm Center, Knights Out, OutServe and President Obama were all conspiring to just give up on the whole issue of ending DADT.

John Aravosis on AmericaBlogGay wrote of his conspiracy theory this way: “It's pretty clear to both Joe and me that the Palm Center is doing this on behalf of some other unnamed groups (with three-lettered-names), who are working on behalf of an unnamed elected official who has a record of being rather un-fierce. You can do the math.”

In their own defense, Knights Out said, “We signed on to a statement that made it clear that we support repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the lame-duck session and at the same time, the military mission is a priority. Funding the Defense Authorization Bill to support our troops is critical, and while some Senators are willing to play politics with the DADT issue at the expense of our troops, we are not.”

“This is being misinterpreted as “surrender” on DADT, which it is not. Please understand that this is a statement of principle, and it does not let anyone “off the hook” regarding repeal of DADT. Repeal can happen in several different ways: in the original NDAA, in the amendment process for the NDAA, in a stand-alone bill - but it must happen in 2010. We are unwavering in that regard.”

Knights Out’s intent, evidently, had been two-fold; one part ethics and one part strategy. Ethically speaking, Knights Out wanted to make it clear that they did not approve of tying repeal language to a spending bill which ended up depriving the military of what Knights Out believes to be essential funds. Such packaging of multiple legislations is historically common in Congress, but some Senators like Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) have argued that DADT repeal and the Dream Act are issues big enough to warrant stand alone bills.

Alternately, the strategy at play in un-tethering repeal from the Defense Authorization package is that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will not suffer the stigma from other parts of the package that may or may not be less politically expedient, like the DREAM Act or a pay increase for troops. A stand alone bill will also create a perk for voters as it will be crystal clear where our legislators stand on gay rights when they cast their vote.

Perhaps the most glaring phrase in the entire press release, which you can read at the link provided below, is “must happen in 2010”. Many political commentators have asserted that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will be considerably more difficult when fewer Democrats take their seat in the Senate next year.

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