114th Congress: We're updating with new data as it becomes available.

OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

Gays In The Military Gain Joementum

February 22, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT] is taking the lead on congressional efforts to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

In a statement released today, Lieberman announced his intention to introduce a bill repealing DADT:

I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity. I have opposed the current policy of preventing gay Americans from openly serving in the military since its enactment in 1993. To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause.

While the details of Lieberman’s bill are still unknown, there’s a chance parts of it could resemble Rep. Patrick Murphy’s [D, PA-8] Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R.1283).

Servicemembers United explains one path Congress and the Pentagon could take following the introduction of Lieberman’s bill:

To strengthen the prospects for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and to reduce political risk, the President can still order the Pentagon to include “Set End-date / Delayed Implementation” repeal language in one of the legislative policy transmittals that will soon be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees by the Department of Defense. These policy proposal packages serve as indications of White House and Pentagon support for policy changes to be included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.

Additionally, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee could insert Senator Lieberman’s new bill into the Chairman’s mark of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which will soon be drafted. Such a move, especially in combination with the Presidential action through Pentagon policy transmittals, could turn out to be the path of least resistance for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and could help shield vulnerable members of the President’s and the Chairman’s own party.

Insertion of the DADT repeal measure into the defense spending bill is a key point. Lawmakers are much more likely to support repealing DADT if the idea is attached to hundreds of billions of dollars for the Pentagon.

Hate crimes legislation was passed in a similar manner last year. Language making it a federal crime to harm someone on the basis of gender or sexual identity was inserted into the $680 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R.2647).

It is also critical for advocates of a DADT repeal to ensure that the Senate Armed Services Committee inserts the repeal language into the Chairman’s mark of this year’s defense spending bill. Americablog Gay explains why:

The key point is that if the repeal language is in the Committee’s bill it will take an amendment on the Senate floor to remove it. That amendment can be filibustered, requiring 60 votes. If our side is forced to add the repeal language on the Senate floor, we’ll need 60 votes to block a filibuster of the amendment. This is one time when Democratic leaders can use their power to our advantage — by putting the repeal in the DOD authorization bill from the get go.

The Advocate quotes someone from Lieberman’s office saying that the senator will introduce the bill “probably early next week.”

Like this post? Stay in touch by following us on Twitter, joining us on Facebook, or by Subscribing with RSS.