September 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
GOP senators block ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

The U.S. Senate dashed the hopes of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal supporters on Tuesday when a vote to proceed on major defense legislation containing repeal language failed, 56-43.

A unified GOP caucus — in addition to Democratic Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln — comprised the “no” votes that defeated a cloture vote on the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed his vote to “no” in a procedural move so he could bring the bill up at a later time.

The votes of 60 senators were necessary to end Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) filibuster and move forward with the legislation.

Advocacy groups working on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bemoaned the failure of reaching cloture in statements following the vote.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said the inability to invoke cloture is “a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics.”

“The Senate could learn a good lesson from those who serve in uniform and who stand to benefit from proceeding to debate on this bill — serving this country means putting politics aside and getting the job done,” he said. “It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today.”

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the vote was “a frustrating blow to repeal this horrible law.”

“We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections,” Sarvis said. “Let’s be clear: Opponents to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ did not have the votes to strike those provisions from the bill. Instead, they had the votes for delay.”

Sarvis called on the Senate to take up the defense authorization bill again in December when he said “cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called on the U.S. Justice Department not to appeal a recent California federal court decision against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the wake of the vote.

“We still have a fighting chance to repeal [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’] through congressional action but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform — as well as the country — are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law,” Solmonese said. “We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’] is unconstitutional.”

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

  • But oBOMBa – that constitutional lawyer guy – said that it is much much better for us as a nation if we have the repeal happen by way of the congress, who enacted the bill in the first place… in other words, the president of the united states believes that our judges and court system is no place to have issues of law and constitutionality decided or debated. So yes, of course his administration will defend the government’s gay discrimination. “Kick ’em out, hurry up – faster!” This is called POLITICS corrupting an otherwise clear head, maybe??? And F^@& the people – let them eat cake.

  • I really think all of the gay & lesbian service members should come out publicly and get kicked out. Screw the homophobes in this country, they aren’t worth the life of one LGBT service member anyway. And as for ALL of the Republicans and the two “Blue Dog” Democrat traitors (Lincoln & Pryor of Arkansas) who voted to continue discrimination in the military against gay & lesbian service members, I say cut them off and vote them out! This is just one more reason why Progressives ran a progressive Democrat against that old traitor Blanche Lincoln, and why we should run another Progressive against Pryor when he comes up for re-election. Socially Conservative Dems are just as rotten as Republicans and none of them should be re-elected. As for “Our Fierce Advocate” Obama, I think its time for us to seriously court New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and convince him to run for President as an independent in the 2012 election against Obama and whatever clown the Republicans nominate. The LGBT community should limit its support to gay & lesbian people who are running for office and those straight candidates who are solidly behind us, and ditch the Republicans and conservative Democrats.

  • I agree – leave the military as soon as you can. Come out in military school and then quit. Let Arkansas defend itself. You have a better future potential in private life and business anyway. Heck, get hired by der Homeland Security. Better yet, run for political office.

  • See what a waste of time it was to put lifting DADT over ENDA?! Now we squandered are chance to get any important Pro-gay legislation passed. It would take too much time to get ENDA voted on in both chambers of the Congress before the Mid-Term elections after which the GOP will prevent any pro-gay legislation from being voted without a filibuster!

    ENDA would have benefitted more of us than lifting DADT. I am really pissed off at Pelosi for putting this up for a vote first. The damn Pentagon Study on lifting the ban gave on-the-fence GOP members an excuse to vote against the measure! They would have had a lot tougher time with ENDA doing that!

  • rexreddy wrote:

    “Let them in!
    Send them to the Navy.
    Assign them as lookouts on the outboard sides of lowered flight deck elevators at sea in the North Atlantic.
    High sea state.
    All ahead Flank II! Hard to Starboard!
    Problem solved.

    It wouldn’t be the first time.”

    My response,

    This is bs. The Navy wouldn’t lower the flight deck elevators in a high sea state, let alone post lookouts there. The hanger deck elevator doors would be closed and the flight deck elevators at deck level. I worked on the deck for several years and experienced high sea state conditons several times at sea. The flight deck elevators are never left at the hangar deck level, even in good weather. The only time they are at the hangar deck level on the ship is when they are moving aircraft from the deck to hangar deck or from the hangar deck to the flight deck. When not in use, they are at the flight deck because they are part of the flight deck during flight ops.

    BTW, I am gay and was very good at my job. Glad I didn’t stay in because I could have spent 19 years 364 days of my life committed to a career and DADT could have ruined my pension and career if I were caught in a gay bar 1 day before retirement. I have 27 years good service with the company I work for in the civilian sector, make more than a Lt. Commander and get 6 weeks off a year. I am also protected against discrimination because of my sexual orientation (because I am a civilian) because the laws are there to protect me as a civilian. If I were active duty I would be fired.

    DADT vs. Hate Crimes, where do we as a nation draw the line? And, is civilian justice versus military justice an “OK” to enforce this on the military side but a “no-way” on the civilian side?

    Constitution… All men are created equal?

    The only positive result of today’s vote is that I can ask another country for asylum as a result of discrimination.

    The only good side to this is it shows the idiotic mindset that is running this country

  • On second thought, Now that the DADT vote is over we still have a very small window of opportunity to get a vote on ENDA. If damn Pelosi and the Dems can schedule a vote on it within the next week then maybe we still have time to pass it and get it voted on in the Senate before the Congress changes hands. Let’s give it every effort. If the Dems fail us again on this and stonewall then we know we can’t count on them to deliver more than lies.

  • When I served I could’ve cared less if someone snitched on me. My first mission to a gay bar in downtown Frankfurt, W. Germany I found several of my battalion buddies dancing and having a blast. I sort of tried to be discreet but being there I was already indiscreet and I was in an infantry unit not admin. So there I was with these guys knowing about me. It was a relief but it ultimately the demise of my military aspirations. I enjoyed my time served but I know my unit was not ready for openly gay members at the time. Homophobia was rampant although I could tell there were family members in the closet. Under DADT I would have felt strange not talking about the elephant in the room. DADT was a bad idea from it’s inception and repealing it immediately is necessary for the health of the gay and straight members of all military units. It’s time to face the truth and deal with it. No more government sanctioned discrimination. Ironically we have gay and lesbian service members risking their lives under extremely discriminatory conditions that wouldn’t dare be instituted outside of the military. So why is this double standard accepted when every service member may be asked to pay the ultimate price? It doesn’t make sense. The republicans live by double standards. We’ve seen them get caught dabbling in gay affairs only to deny their gay. What? Denial seems to run deep with the conservatives. But the truth is the truth no matter how many times one denies it. Fight repealing DADT and the gays won’t exist in the military? Is that what their logic is? There is once again no logic to the bigoted logic behind the actions of the GOP. They fought segregation with the same fear mongering back in the 40’s and 50’s and today they would be flush with embarrassment if confronted by their own rhetoric as it seems so out of this century’s values now. When the tea party weighs in on this( Christine O’Donnell is horribly homophobic) it will be just as bad or worse. More hate is brewing within the ranks of the republican tea party as each day passes as they regress towards the bronze age. Never again will America be more ashamed as it is today. Republicans and Tea party members taking us all back, but how far out of hand can this get before they realize the true damage they’re doing to the country they proclaim to love?

  • F U Obama, Reid and Pelosi. You have done NOTHING for the LBGT community in two years. The gop will take over both houses of congress in November and you will be kicked out on your worthless no account sorry asses. I hope you all burn in hell.

  • Well the people of Ariansas will take of Blance Lincoln on their own. We can only hope that after she loses the election and there is a lame duck session of the Congress that she will show some form of decency and vote to repeal DADT.

  • wtf, this is such a ploy from the democrats, it was a no win situation for the GOP, i’m indepentednt, but all i see is a party that wants to push this forward early for some very well times publicity, think about it, if the democrats wait until it comes up when it was going to, (December?) it won’t help them at all, but if they push for it and win, then they get to say “hey look what we just did!” “vote for us!” and if they failed like they just did, they get to say “look at those asshole GOP, blocking their homophobes!, and fat, and old, and ugly!”

    seriously i live in Massachusetts, and most of my friends are Democrats and this is exactly what they’re saying already, especially the fat and ugly part, along with some “go f***ing die” and so on. i feel bad for the GOP, they can’t pass anything with out getting shot down, they can barley filibuster anything the democrats try to push, and they get labeled as bigots, i don’t see bigotry here, i see a very calculated strike by democrats and a very nasty future for republicans.

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