The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-19-2010, 08:58 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
How long does it take to implement a new law, and why?

PLEASE NOTE: This thread is not really about any particular law, so please don't give your opinions about whether or not you are in favor of any particular law. I'm only using this one as an example.

Yesterday, the United States repealed its "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, under which gays had to keep that secret, or they'd be expelled from the armed forced. Now, they can be open, with no fear of expulsion.

But - not so fast. According to page two and three of this article in the Washington Post,
Quote:
The ban will not be formally lifted until after Obama and top military leaders report to Congress that they have reviewed the findings of the Pentagon review about the ban, released last month, and that the Defense Department has drafted policies and regulations to stop enforcing it. Those changes must not affect troop readiness, cohesion or military recruitment and retention, according to the law.

Even after the finding, lawmakers will be able to hold hearings for two months to review the Pentagon's policies and procedures for accepting openly gay troops, according to congressional aides familiar with the matter.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Saturday that the law remains in effect and that the process of implementing the change in policy "will take an additional period of time."

"I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the services, commands and units," Gates said.

Close military observers say that the ease of ending the ban will vary widely among the military branches and that the Pentagon could stagger implementation of the change.

Combat Marines are especially concerned about the possibility of serving alongside openly gay colleagues, and Gen. James F. Amos, the Marine commandant, has suggested that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could result in deadly distractions. Several Republican senators cited Amos's concerns Saturday before voting against the bill.
Now, here's my question: Why does it take so long?

I can understand that if a sales tax is changed, it takes a while to get the new calculations to all the merchants, and it takes a while to reprogram all those cash registers. But why would it take any time at all to simply not expel someone for letting it be known that they are gay?

Again, PLEASE NO OPINIONS ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS LAW. What I want to know is: Once the law has passed, how complicated is it to effect those changes?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-19-2010, 11:59 AM
Telemark Telemark is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Hub of the sports world
Posts: 15,056
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
Why does it take so long?
In this case, it's specifically because that's the way the law was written. It was decided to make this a gradual and deliberate process. They could have just as easily written the repeal to occur instantaneously, but they might not have had the votes for that.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:06 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 7,713
The situation with DADT is atypical. The law that was repealed had nothing to do with banning homosexuality itself, which was the rule before DADT and is still the rule. It prohibited disclosing or acting on one's homosexuality, and prohibited investigating members of the military for homosexuality without prior evidence (more or less). The ban itself can only be ended by the President and the rest of the military leadership, and Obama has promised not to do this precipitously. Ending the ban via his authority as Commander in Chief is what Clinton planned to do, which is why Congress passed DADT in the first place -- to make ending the ban pointless (and it was a compromise at that; they originally moved to codify the ban itself into law, without even the limited protection of the "Don't Ask" part of DADT).
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:09 PM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
How is it a good idea to make this gradual (or even delayed)? If any gay soldiers get themselves outed in the meantime, isn't that going to get even more ugly and complicated than it would either if DADT were still unambiguously in place, or definitively overturned? Now, if someone get dishonorably discharged (or whatever) for being openly gay one day, or one hour, before DADT is officially dead, the shit is really going to fly.

It is not like they have to work out a whole bunch of administrative details about how to not punish people.

Last edited by njtt; 12-19-2010 at 12:11 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:15 PM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
The situation with DADT is atypical. The law that was repealed had nothing to do with banning homosexuality itself, which was the rule before DADT and is still the rule. It prohibited disclosing or acting on one's homosexuality, and prohibited investigating members of the military for homosexuality without prior evidence (more or less). The ban itself can only be ended by the President and the rest of the military leadership, and Obama has promised not to do this precipitously. Ending the ban via his authority as Commander in Chief is what Clinton planned to do, which is why Congress passed DADT in the first place -- to make ending the ban pointless (and it was a compromise at that; they originally moved to codify the ban itself into law, without even the limited protection of the "Don't Ask" part of DADT).
If that is right, it appears that until Obama gets the guts to 'precipitously' order the end of the ban, gays in the military are now in a considerably more vulnerable position than they were before the repeal. Now they can be actively investigated and "asked."
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:37 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 23,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
If that is right, it appears that until Obama gets the guts to 'precipitously' order the end of the ban, gays in the military are now in a considerably more vulnerable position than they were before the repeal. Now they can be actively investigated and "asked."
That's not correct. The DADT repeal specifically says that DADT is still in place until the new policies are in place.

Quote:
It is not like they have to work out a whole bunch of administrative details about how to not punish people.
DoD's feeling in this case is that they need to work out new policies so as to make troops comfortable to serve with openly gay people, and to have procedures in place to deal with any tension or problems that might cause.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-19-2010, 12:48 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,475
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
DoD's feeling in this case is that they need to work out new policies so as to make troops comfortable to serve with openly gay people, and to have procedures in place to deal with any tension or problems that might cause.
Right. And the law that was just passed gives specific guidance on what policies need to be studied and implemented before DADT is fully done away with:

Quote:
(2) OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW- The Terms of Reference accompanying the Secretarys memorandum established the following objectives and scope of the ordered review:

(A) Determine any impacts to military readiness, military effectiveness and unit cohesion, recruiting/retention, and family readiness that may result from repeal of the law and recommend any actions that should be taken in light of such impacts.

(B) Determine leadership, guidance, and training on standards of conduct and new policies.

(C) Determine appropriate changes to existing policies and regulations, including but not limited to issues regarding personnel management, leadership and training, facilities, investigations, and benefits.

(D) Recommend appropriate changes (if any) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

(E) Monitor and evaluate existing legislative proposals to repeal 10 U.S.C. 654 and proposals that may be introduced in the Congress during the period of the review.

(F) Assure appropriate ways to monitor the workforce climate and military effectiveness that support successful follow-through on implementation.

(G) Evaluate the issues raised in ongoing litigation involving 10 U.S.C. 654.
Aside from things like developing a training curriculum to teach people what is and is not allowed when dealing with openly gay troops, and actually conducting the training, there also has to be new policies developed on allocation of benefits, and a new government strategy on the court cases brought on by those who were previously discharged under DADT.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:01 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
DoD's feeling in this case is that they need to work out new policies so as to make troops comfortable to serve with openly gay people, and to have procedures in place to deal with any tension or problems that might cause.
What sort of new policies are needed? Don't they already have polices on how to deal with sexual harassment?

Last edited by Keeve; 12-19-2010 at 03:03 PM.. Reason: add: Ditto for everything in Ravenman's post
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:50 PM
hajario hajario is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Posts: 13,087
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
What sort of new policies are needed? Don't they already have polices on how to deal with sexual harassment?
Of course they do.

As has already been explained, all of the extra bullshit was put into the law to get the last few votes needed for passage.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-19-2010, 03:56 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 23,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
What sort of new policies are needed? Don't they already have polices on how to deal with sexual harassment?
What Ravenman said. "developing a training curriculum to teach people what is and is not allowed when dealing with openly gay troops, and actually conducting the training, there also has to be new policies developed on allocation of benefits, and a new government strategy on the court cases brought on by those who were previously discharged under DADT. "
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-19-2010, 04:24 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,475
Quote:
Originally Posted by hajario View Post
As has already been explained, all of the extra bullshit was put into the law to get the last few votes needed for passage.
That's certainly a matter of opinion. But the fact is that the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff specifically recommended these studies.

In terms of sexual harassment policies, I would be inclined to say that the existing guidance is inadequate because it never contemplated this situation. We are dealing with an institution that thrives on spelling every damned detail out on paper, from how to align your belt to thousands of pages of requirements documents on how a Humvee must perform.

The armed forces do not generally encourage individuals to come up with ad hoc personnel policies. Every damned detail will be written out in an attempt to insure that the policy will be fair and uniformally implemented.

Last edited by Ravenman; 12-19-2010 at 04:25 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-19-2010, 07:07 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Just curious. Let's say that Rev. Pat Robertson (for example) gets elected President in 2012. Can he simply reinstate the pre-1993 ban on gays in the military? If so, what about all of the ones that "come out" between 2010 and that time? Could they be immediately dismissed from service? It seems that they could.

Strange how this law, when passed, was considered a huge step up for gay rights, but now it is an albatross that needs shedding.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-19-2010, 07:45 PM
ctnguy ctnguy is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
The "DADT Repeal Act" is mis-named. What it does (once the certifications have been made and the sixty-day period has passed) is strike out 10 U.S.C. 654, which is the law that forbids gays from serving in the military. Once the amendment goes into force, as I understand it, there would be no legal basis to dismiss gay servicemembers, short of a new Act of Congress.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-19-2010, 08:25 PM
jtgain jtgain is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctnguy View Post
The "DADT Repeal Act" is mis-named. What it does (once the certifications have been made and the sixty-day period has passed) is strike out 10 U.S.C. 654, which is the law that forbids gays from serving in the military. Once the amendment goes into force, as I understand it, there would be no legal basis to dismiss gay servicemembers, short of a new Act of Congress.
But what if the new President Falwell, Jr. decided that gays were bad for morale and he was using his power as commander in chief to expel all of them? What law would stop him?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-19-2010, 08:33 PM
ctnguy ctnguy is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Does the President have the power to arbitrarily dismiss members of the armed services?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 12-19-2010, 09:21 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
That's certainly a matter of opinion. But the fact is that the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff specifically recommended these studies.
And the law prescribes no limit on how long it might take to complete them. If it happens to take ten or twenty years, there's nothing in the law to rush them. This has happened in other cases: In one example that I'm aware of, a law passed in 1995 required a certain action to be taken by 1999, but gave the President the authority to suspend that requirement for a period of six months. And like clockwork, the President has indeed suspended it every six months ever since, rendering that law almost worthless. It is my observation that the military could similarly render the repeal of DADT worthless, simply by delaying the writing of new policies. (If this were GD, I'd mention my opinion about laws which contain such loopholes.)
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 12-19-2010, 09:25 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
In terms of sexual harassment policies, I would be inclined to say that the existing guidance is inadequate because it never contemplated this situation. We are dealing with an institution that thrives on spelling every damned detail out on paper, from how to align your belt to thousands of pages of requirements documents on how a Humvee must perform.

The armed forces do not generally encourage individuals to come up with ad hoc personnel policies. Every damned detail will be written out in an attempt to insure that the policy will be fair and uniformally implemented.
I've certainly seen my share of legalese, but this seemed like overkill to me. But I've never been in the military, so I'll take your word for it. Thanks for being so clear.

No sarcasm is intended or should be inferred.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12-20-2010, 05:34 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by hajario View Post
As has already been explained, all of the extra bullshit was put into the law to get the last few votes needed for passage.
This may be an exaggeration, but implementation dates of laws are often set for political reasons.

The US Social Security Act required a massive record-keeping (and tax-collecting) system to be set up (in an age without computers), but the first payout under the system was about 1-1/3 year after the President signed the bill into law.

The recent Health Care act was passed in the current highly-computerized in 2009, but many of its parts don't go into effect until 2014, 5 years later. Politicasl opponents have stated that they demanded this long delay to give them a chance to repeal it before it ever goes into effect.

So an implementation date can be set for many reasons, often political ones related to gaining votes for it.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.