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Military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy Blocked in Senate

5 years ago
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Senate Republicans blocked the Defense Department bill Tuesday, objecting to gay rights and immigration language in the annual legislation that sets policies and spending levels for the Pentagon. Majority Democrats, needing 60 votes to break a filibuster and begin consideration of the bill, fell short 43 to 56. Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor joined all 40 Republicans in voting no.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also voted against the bill, but for procedural reasons. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) missed the roll call.

GOP senators said two controversial additions -- language to begin the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military and a last-minute amendment based on the DREAM Act to give young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they complete two years of college or serve that long in the military -- made the bill impossible to support.
Susan Collins
"In Senator Reid and the Democrats' zeal to get re-elected, they've used a cynical political ploy to try to galvanize and energize their base," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the top Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "In the case of the DREAM Act, it's the Hispanic vote...The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is an appeal to the gay and lesbian base. I've been around here a long time and I have never seen such a cynical use of the needs of our men and women in the military."

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it is the Republicans playing politics with a bill that is designed to provide benefits for members of the military and their families, to build weapons systems, and to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They should fight against it if they don't like it," Levin said of the Republicans who stopped the legislation. "It would be unthinkable if we didn't have a Defense Authorization bill. It's never happened."

In May, the panel approved a "don't ask, don't tell" repeal provision, to begin the process of ending the policy that bans openly gay individuals from military service. (The language stipulates that the ban will be lifted after the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff complete a review of armed forces personnel and certify that repeal won't hurt military readiness.) The House has already passed a bill with identical language to roll back a policy enacted under President Clinton that requires gay men and lesbians in the armed forces to keep their sexual orientation private.

But last week, Senate Majority Leader Reid announced he would also offer a hot-button amendment based on the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a rider that would give young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they have been in the United States for longer than five years. To qualify, they also must have come to the country before the age of 16 and have completed at least two years of college or two years in the military.

With time ticking toward a Tuesday afternoon vote, Democrats and liberal activists -- including pop singer Lady Gaga -- hoped that Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Maine's other Republican senator, Olympia Snowe, would announce their support for the Defense bill. But both Snowe and Collins joined with all of their fellow Republicans to block it by refusing to cut off debate.

"I don't support amnesty and I don't support repealing don't ask Don't Tell," Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, told Politics Daily before voting no. "They're playing politics with the bill."

Levin said that failure to get 60 votes for the legislation this week would be "a real setback." He admitted he did not know if he could pass the bill during the lame duck session of Congress now scheduled after the election. With the fate of several Democratic Senate seats in doubt in special elections, Democrats could bring fewer than their current 59 votes back to the Senate for the post-election session.

"Anyone who tries to predict what will happen in lame duck has got a lot more courage than I do," Levin said.

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I have not been following comments or conversations regarding this. But, if a person is gay or not, and serve in our Military, I think they deserve respect for being overseas and fighting for our Country. I don't think you can tell people how to live, and it saddens me to see these people getting hurt for speaking out. This comment Don't ask, Don't tell, where did it come from?

September 23 2010 at 10:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

As a gay Veteren Who served 9 year in the late sixty's and early seventy's,,I think these matters should be made by the military and not the House and Senate.

September 23 2010 at 2:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Will the Senate ever recognize that every citizen in this country should enjoy all rights and promises of our great DEMOCRATIC government. I'm 84 years old, I served in Armed Forces during WW2 and was honorably discharged. I never had to answer the question, "DADT". I would have had to answer in the affirmative, I'm GAY. Fortunately most of the people I met in my many years have judged me on "what I did not who I was".

September 23 2010 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BillBD's comment

Yes, but you weren't flagrantly open about it I bet.

December 18 2010 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What will hold up the Tax cuts will be the wording Small Business vs Dollar amounts. There are over a half Million so called Small Business. Republicans want it worded Small Business and Obama wants it worded 200,000 and 250,000 Here is what will make the difference, As a small Business tax cut these people are actually making Billions and would not receive a tax cut If left as 200,000 and 250,000 I guess the wording of just Small Business would make a big difference for these fake Small business in what they pay in taxes, wtg Republicans even more wealth to you guys. All a bunch of snakes

September 23 2010 at 1:26 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The congressional leadership of both parties, along with President Obama, had agreed to wait on the results of a Pentagon report on what affect DADT would have on the mission of our military, due in December. With everything going wrong for the Democrats, their leadership decided to try and force a vote on DADT BEFORE the report was releases was clearly an attempt to do what the Democrats do best: CHANGE THE SUBJECT!

September 23 2010 at 12:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Gates, Collins, Amos, Mullen, Skelton, Mixon, McCain, and Conway are total morons. The people lifting the ban will affect is gay Americans, and I'm pretty sure they're OK with it. And I don't think changing a policy that should have been changed 200 years ago is exactly rushing things. And if people would quit the military because gays are allowed to serve openly, I say good riddance to them. Let those bigots go find a company in the private sector that segregates workers by sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, etc.. Good luck finding that. They'll all have to go work at Catholic churches. And what if gays left the military or didn't join because heterosexuals are allowed to serve openly? Where will they find replacements for the hundreds of thousands of brave gay Americans serving now? Bigots are such disgusting, repulsive cretins. And it is patently unfair that gays and their loved ones should suffer the devastating effects of discrimination while the bigots and their loved ones go about their daily lives as if nothing is wrong. Bigots need to start being made to face severe consequences for their actions. Maybe once bigots and their loved ones are made to pay for their repulsive behavior, they'll think twice before engaging in it again. Anyone coming into contact with Gates, Collins, Amos, Mullen, Skelton, Mixon, McCain, Conway, or their loved ones, should take any action possible to make them pay

September 22 2010 at 11:16 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

There is quite a leftist slant by the author of this article. Reid is playing politics by taking a very passable military spending bill and throwing in not only the “don't ask, don't tell” repeal but also the “Amnesty” bill.

September 22 2010 at 5:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It was good that DADT ended the previous anti-gay/lesbian witch-hunts in the US Military but is allowing gays and lesbians to flaunt their sexual orientation while on duty or on the base a good idea? Or would that flaunting lead to attacks from those who are homophobic?

September 22 2010 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Grace

Oh please the Dem's are in charge, remember, they have the majority! So how could they block anything?

September 22 2010 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Republicans plus Democrats equals bipartisan. Perhaps this is something the Democrats should have done when they had total control... maybe it wasn't important then.

September 22 2010 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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