Carolinas reps line up on ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

Partial repeal measure passes House, Senate Armed Services

A measure that would partially repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that prevents open and honest military service by gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans, passed the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

The measure, an amendment to the defense re-authorization bill, was supported by the White House and several LGBT advocacy organizations. If successful, it will repeal the 1993 law from federal statute and return authority over the policy to the Department of Defense, which is currently undertaking a study on how to implement full repeal. That study’s results are expected later this year or early next year.

The amendment passed 16-12 in the Senate Armed Services Committee, where North Carolina’s Kay Hagan, a Democrat, voted “yes.” Her Tar Heel colleague, Republican Richard Burr voted “no,” as did South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Only one Republican on the committee, Maine’s Susan Collins, voted “yes.” One Democrat, Virginia’s Jim Webb, voted “no.”

On the House floor, the amendment passed 234-194. All of North Carolina’s Republican representatives voted “No”, as did Democrats Bob Etheridge, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler. All but one in South Carolina’s House delegation voted “no” on the measure. Democrat Jim Clyburn was that state’s lone affirmative vote.

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See a breakdown of Senate committee and House votes below.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said Thursday’s repeal measure was “historic,” but said there was more work to be done.

“The U.S. House and Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee both passed a historic roadmap to allowing open military service, but it doesn’t end the discharges,” he said in a release. “It is important for all gay and lesbian, active-duty service members, including the reserves and the national guard, to know they’re at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that remains on the books.”

Sarvis added, “Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011. The bottom line: gay and lesbian service members remain at risk for discharge and cannot serve openly.”

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese also said the House and Senate votes were historic.

“Lawmakers today stood on the right side of history,” he said. “This is a historic step to strengthen our armed forces and to restore honor and integrity to those who serve our country so selflessly.”

In a statement from the White House late Thursday, President Barack Obama said the passed measure were important bi-partisan steps toward repeal.

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That statement read: “I have long advocated that we repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, and I am pleased that both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee took important bipartisan steps toward repeal tonight. Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such I am grateful that the amendments offered by Representative Patrick Murphy and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Carl Levin that passed today will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process. Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”

Senate Armed Services Committee

Yes:
Carl Levin (Michigan)
Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia)
Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
Mark Udall (Colorado)
Kay Hagan (North Carolina)
Mark Begich (Alaska)
Roland W. Burris (Illinois)
Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico)
Edward E. Kaufman (Delaware)
Susan M. Collins (Maine)

No:
Jim Webb (Virginia)
John McCain (Arizona)
James M. Inhofe (Oklahoma)
Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
Saxby Chambliss (Georgia)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
John Thune (South Dakota)
Roger F. Wicker (Mississippi)
George S. LeMieux (Florida)
Scott Brown (Massachusetts)
Richard Burr (North Carolina)
David Vitter (Louisiana)

House of Representatives, North Carolina

Democrats
G.K. Butterfield, Y
Bob Etheridge, N
Larry Kissell, Y
Mike McIntyre, N
Brad Miller, Y
David Price, Y
Heath Shuler, N
Mel Watt, Y

Republicans
Howard Coble, N
Virginia Foxx, N
Walter Jones, N
Patrick McHenry, N
Sue Myrick, N

House of Representatives, South Carolina

Democrats
Jim Clyburn, Y
John Spratt, N

Republicans
J. Gresham Barrett, N
Henry Brown, N
Bob Inglis, N
Joe Wilson, N

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.