May 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Ben Nelson to support 'Don't Ask' compromise: sources

A key senator lobbied by supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has come out in favor of an amendment that would end the law, according to sources.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who previously told the Blade he wouldn’t vote in favor of repeal, has reportedly reversed his position to support a legislative compromise on the measure unveiled earlier this week.

In a statement, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, indicated on Wednesday that Nelson would vote in favor of compromise legislation.

“We thank Sen. Nelson for his support and are extremely grateful,” Solmonese said. “He and other senators supporting repeal will be on the right side of history. While Sen. Nelson’s vote is critical, no vote will be taken for granted in these final hours before the Senate committee vote.”

Nelson is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is expected to take up the issue of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Wednesday or Thursday during its markup of the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

On Wednesday, Gay blogger Adam Bink reported on that he received a call from a Nelson staffer confirming that the senator “is going to vote in favor of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the Senate Armed Services Committee later this week” and would formally announce his position later in the day.

Nelson’s office didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to confirm that the senator would vote in favor of repeal.

Supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have said they may need only one vote to secure passage of repeal this week on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The announcement from Nelson could be enough to put those seeking repeal over the edge in winning enough support.

Nelson told the Blade last week he was opposed to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at this time, although he said he wasn’t familiar with the compromise measure that was at the time under discussion.

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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