Senate fails to move forward with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal

The U.S. Senate failed by four votes Sept. 21 to end a filibuster by Sen.
John McCain, R-Ariz., and move on to consideration of this year’s military
funding bill that contains congressional authorization to repeal the Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell gay ban.

The vote was 56 to 43. Sixty votes were needed to halt the filibuster. The
measure already had passed the House of Representatives. Although Congress
may opt to fund the military after the November elections, the provision
repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell seems unlikely to survive now, advocates

“Today’s Senate vote was a frustrating blow,” said Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. “We lost because of the
political maneuvering dictated by the midterm 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.”

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey accused
“politicians (of) playing politics with people’s lives.”

“Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”
she said. “The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should
be ashamed.”

Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson blamed Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for the loss.

“The votes to break the filibuster had previously been lined up, but last
week … 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,” Nicholson said. “Intense lobbying and public pressure
over the past week proved not to be enough to force either side to back

Courage Campaign Chairman Rick Jacobs responded to the loss by saying the
Justice Department and President Barack Obama should opt not to appeal the
recent federal court decision in Riverside, Calif., that struck down DADT
as unconstitutional.

“We applaud the Log Cabin Republicans for initiating this case and we hope
the Justice Department recognizes that it’s time to consign this
discriminatory law to the dustbin of history,” Jacobs said.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said the filibuster “was
election-year politics at its worst.”

HRC sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder joining Courage in
demanding the government not appeal the district court decision.

“We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence
that proves DADT is unconstitutional,” Solmonese said.

GetEQUAL responded by calling on Obama to issue an executive order
suspending discharges under DADT between now and the time that repeal is

“Four months ago, we asked the president to stop military discharges while
the U.S. Congress haggled over our rights,” the group said. “He didn’t
respond, and we’re now seeing the result of this complete lack of
presidential leadership and courage. So we’re taking the fight back to the
White House.”

“We need volunteers to help us hold the president accountable and meet him
head-on during this election season, asking him at each campaign stop and
at each fundraising party, ‘When will the discharges end?'” the
direct-action group said. “Now it’s time for our ‘fierce advocate’ to step
up to the plate for us.”

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support repealing DADT, according to a
recent CNN poll.

If the Senate had passed DADT repeal and President Barack Obama signed it,
nothing would have happened right away. That’s because of language in the
bill that delays repeal until three things take place: the Pentagon
completes a study by Dec. 1 on how to implement DADT repeal; Obama,
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael
Mullen certify that the military will not be harmed by implementing DADT
repeal in accord with the Pentagon’s plans; and 60 additional days pass
after the certification.

By Rex Wockner


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