May 25, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Bill Nelson to support 'Don't Ask' compromise

A key U.S. senator that those seeking ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal have been lobbying for support will vote in favor of a compromise amendment to end the law, according to his office.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) plans to vote in favor of the measure made public on Monday by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a spoksperson said.

“Nelson will support the Levin-Lieberman Amendment,” said Dan McLaughlin, a Nelson spokesperson.

The Senate Armed Services Committee — on which Nelson serves — is expected to consider repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during its markup later this week of the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

Nelson was among six senators that LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, have been lobbying through a grassroots campaign to vote in favor of repeal. The other five are Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.).

However, Brown said on Tuesday he would vote against the amendment as proposed by Lieberman, according to the Boston Globe.

“I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military,” Brown reportedly said in a statement.

Ben Nelson has told the Blade he opposes “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal at this time, although it’s unclear whether his position has changed following the announcement of the compromise measure.

The compromise amendment made public on Monday would repeal the statute prohibiting open service in the U.S. military only after the Pentagon completes its study on the issue at the end of the year and President Obama and Pentagon leaders certify the repeal is consistent with military standards.

Additionally, the proposed amendment lacks non-discrimination language and would return authority on discharging LGBT service members to the Pentagon.

The Blade will have more information on this story as it develops.

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

3 Comments
  • Peter Rosenstein

    Good reporting Chris- Let’s pick these Senators off one at a time- Ben Nelson should be next to announce support as he would be a hypocrit if now that Mullen and Gates support this he doesn’t- but then I guess it wouldn’t be his first time. We can only hope that there is some decency in him.

  • Chris -

    Thanks for reporting on this, but after our lobby visit with Sen. Nelson’s office a couple weeks ago, we were already counting him in the “yes” column. Also in that column was Sen. Collins.

    By my whip count we’re still one short of having the 15 we need on the Senate Armed Services Committee to get the repeal language included in the Defense Bill.

    It’s either going to be Webb or Bayh. Our community pressure needs to be laser beam focused on VA and IN for the next two days.

    Keep up the great work,

    + Phil

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