Battle Heating Up Over Possible Senate Action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

September 14, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced he'll soon bring the yearly Pentagon authorization bill, including a provision to repeal the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," (DADT) policy, to the Senate floor. DADT bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military and has resulted in scores of service members being kicked out. Last week, a federal judge in California ruled the policy violates the constitutional rights of gay service members.

The New York Times reports that some Republicans are girding to block the repeal provision. According to the newspaper, Sen. John McCain a senior member of the Armed Services Committee will try to block the measure because "he said the White House is moving to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell,' without properly gauging the impact on battle readiness and troop morale."

While civil liberties groups pushing for repeal of DADT, lauded Reid's announcement, they also sounded a note of caution over efforts to stymie or defeat the repeal provision.

Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that has long worked to repeal DADT, said in a press statement, "Repeal proponents may well need 60 votes in the Senate to get to this important debate in September. We are now in the final stretch and we must prevail. Repeal supporters should not stop calling their senators. Sen. John McCain has been a strong and vocal opponent from the start and it is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments."

See video of an ACS panel discussion, in which Sarvis participated, regarding the history of DADT and the repeal efforts. For analysis on the impact on DADT see the Palm Center's research here.

[image via vpickering]