DADT repeal halted in Senate

by QNotes Staff  Staff Reports  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: September 21, 2010 in Blog

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday took up a measure to proceed to debate on the Defense Authorization bill, which contains two key pieces of legislation: a repeal to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and the DREAM Act, which would provide a means for undocumented minors to achieve legal status through high school graduation and two years of college or military service.

The bill has already passed the House. The Senate filibuster is being led Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

A round-up of responses from various LGBT advocacy groups below:

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), issued a statement today after the U.S. Senate failed to break a filibuster on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains the repeal of DADT. To move forward on debate of the bill, 60 votes were needed to break a filibuster by U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:
““Today’s Senate vote was a frustrating blow to repeal this horrible law. We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. Let’s be clear: Opponents to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ did not have the votes to strike those provisions from the bill. Instead, they had the votes for delay. Time is the enemy here. We now have no choice but to look to the lame duck session where we’ll have a slim shot. The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will continue to take this fight to the American people, the vast majority of whom support repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Servicemembers United

Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, expressed deep disappointment today with the failure of Senate leadership and moderate Republicans to reach an agreement that would have succeeded in breaking the filibuster on the motion to proceed on the defense authorization bill. This year’s defense authorization bill contains a provision that would finally enable the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

“Today’s vote is a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. “The Senate could learn a good lesson from those who serve in uniform and who stand to benefit from proceeding to debate on this bill – serving this country means putting politics aside and getting the job done. It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today.”

The votes to break the filibuster had previously been lined up, but last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to use an uncommon procedural privilege on the bill that eroded support for breaking the filibuster and guaranteed the vote’s failure. Intense lobbying and public pressure over the past week proved not to be enough to force either side to back down. The Senate will not likely take up the defense authorization bill again until after the mid-term elections in November.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responded to the Senate’s failure to end a filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act, blocking action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the DREAM Act.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Once again, politicians are playing politics with people’s lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and the DREAM Act — two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness — is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today’s Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed.”

Log Cabin Republicans

The Log Cabin Republicans are troubled by the parochial political actions of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) who has refused to compromise with Senate Republicans by holding a full and open debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rather than reaching a compromise allowing for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed, the Senate has postponed action until after the election.

“Obviously, we are disappointed. Senator Reid failed to reach a compromise with Republicans and our military servicemembers will need to wait until the November elections are over for the US Senate to vote on a repeal.” says R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director, Log Cabin Republicans. “This partisan arrogance is an example of why voters will be turning away from Democrats on November 2nd.”

Human Rights Campaign

Today our military readiness and national security were set back as Senator John McCain successfully led a Republican filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to which the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is attached. Not since 1948 has Congress failed to act on the NDAA. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing the bill back up following the election.

“This filibuster was election year politics at its worst,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It’s a shame that during a time of war, Republican Senators wouldn’t even allow debate on the bill that provides a pay raise for our troops.”

In its continuing efforts to end the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, HRC today released a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on him not to appeal a recent court decision ruling DADT unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Additionally, HRC called on its members and supporters to petition Holder to decline to appeal the case.

“We still have a fighting chance to repeal DADT through Congressional action but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform – as well as the country – are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law,” added Solmonese. “We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional.”

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support repealing DADT according to a recent CNN poll. President Obama and military leadership, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen also support repeal. Under the language in the NDAA, implementation of repeal would not occur until after the completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1 of this year and upon certification.