Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) announced on Friday he would support an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a statement that could bring repeal advocates closer to their goal of lifting the military’s gay ban.
Brown said he’s basing his new support for ending the ban on the recently released Pentagon report and the recommendations of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has called on Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed,” Brown said.
Brown’s office didn’t respond on short notice to confirm whether this announcement means the senator is committed to voting for moving forward with the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill, the vehicle to which repeal language is attached. In September, Brown voted with the rest of the Republican caucus to prevent the legislation from coming to the Senate floor.
In a statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, commended Brown for endorsing repeal. Still, Solmonese said he hopes this support translates to vote in favor of a motion to proceed on the defense authorization bill.
“Support for repealing the ban on open service by gays and lesbians continues to strengthen in the U.S. Senate and supporters will soon be put to the test,” Solmonese said. ”The true measure of whether or not one supports an end to this policy will come as the Senate considers if they will begin debate on the defense bill. Make no mistake, a vote against the motion to proceed is a vote against ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] repeal.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he welcomes Brown’s comments as he advised Republicans against once again blocking consideration of the defense authorization bill.
“If the 42 GOP senators — including several who support repeal of ‘Don’t Ask’ — stand with their party on process and procedure, their vote will be an endorsement of the discrimination that has cost 14,000 men and women their jobs and put our country’s national security at risk,” Sarvis said.
The complete statement from Brown’s office follows:
“I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer. As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.
“I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.”