March 17, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
House 'Don't Ask' repeal bill gains GOP co-sponsor

Joseph Cao (photo courtesy josephcao.house.gov).

Legislation in the U.S. House that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Wednesday gained an additional Republican co-sponsor, according to the National Log Cabin Republicans.

Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) signed in on support of the legislation, making him one of two Republican co-sponsors. The other GOP co-sponsor is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

In a statement, Cao said he became a co-sponsor in part because “discrimination that puts our national security in jeopardy is a double-threat.”

“America is a land where we embrace our diversity as a sign of strength, and where anybody can work hard and be judged solely on the basis of their ability to do the job,” he said. ”Nothing about one’s sexual orientation impact the ability to perform to the highest expectations that we hold for our men and women in the armed forces.”

An incumbent Republican in a Democratic district, Cao could have a difficult fight for re-election this year. Since he began his first term in Congress last year, he’s voted for what are sometimes seen as Democratic partisan bills.

When the health care reform first came to the House floor, Cao was the lone Republican vote in favor of the legislation. He’s since said he won’t vote for the bill when it comes again to the House floor.

In a statement, Terry Hamilton, Log Cabin’s board chair, commened Cao for his support and said Log Cabin would continue working to build Republican support for the repeal bill.

“Congressman Cao’s commitment to the health and strength of our national defense and speaking out against one of the last forms of state-sanctioned discrimination shows his strong character, something that is missing in too many debates in Washington,” he said.

Cao’s support brings the number of co-sponsors for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation to 190. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa), the sponsor of the bill, said the upcoming defense authorization bill could be vehicle for repeal, although he’s said other options are on the table.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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