September 21st, 2010
08:45 AM ET
4 years ago

Senate to vote on taking up 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal

Washington (CNN) – The outcome of a key Senate vote Tuesday on whether to begin debate on legislation that includes a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy remains too close to call.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, needs 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor, and Republicans are threatening a filibuster that would prevent the 59-member Democratic caucus from doing so.

The Republicans appear united against the measure, including some GOP senators who favor lifting the Pentagon's requirement that gays and lesbians keep their sexuality a secret.


In particular, the Republican opponents are upset that Democratic leaders so far refuse to allow GOP amendments to the broader National Defense Authorization Act that includes the "don't ask, don't tell" provision.

GOP senators also dislike Reid's plan to add an immigration-related provision to the defense bill. Reid wants to tack on a measure that would provide a path to citizenship for students who are children of illegal immigrants.

"I am opposed to illegal immigration, and I am deeply disappointed that Washington politicians are playing politics with military funding in order to extend a form of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants," Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts said in a statement issued hours ahead of Tuesday's vote.

Meanwhile, Maine's two moderate Republican senators have indicated they also will join the filibuster, despite pressure from pop star Lady Gaga to support the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

At a rally Monday in Maine, Gaga called on the state's senators - Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - to join Democrats in overcoming the expected GOP filibuster attempt. To loud cheers from the crowd, Gaga said she was proposing a new law titled, "If you don't like it, go home," which would remove homophobic straight soldiers from the military instead of gay soldiers.

"If you are not honorable enough to fight without prejudice, go home," she shouted.

Without the support of Snowe and Collins, Democrats are unlikely to muster the 60 votes needed to proceed with debate on the defense authorization plan.

Both oppose the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and Collins was the sole Republican vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of getting rid of it.

But in a statement issued Monday night, Collins said she would side with the rest of the GOP because the Democratic leadership of the Senate "intends to shut Republicans out of the debate."

Collins said she agreed with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that the law is "simply not fair." However, she said Reid should give Republicans and Democrats "an equal opportunity" to offer amendments to the defense bill.

"Now is not the time to play politics, and I again call on the majority leader to work with Republican leaders to negotiate an agreement so that the Senate can debate the defense bill this week," Collins said.

In a separate statement, Snowe also indicated she would support a Republican filibuster, saying the chamber should be allowed a full debate on the measure. Snowe also questioned why the Senate would vote on repeal before the military has completed its review.

"We should all have the opportunity to review that report which is to be completed on December 1, as we reevaluate this policy and the implementation of any new changes," Snowe's statement said.

The defense authorization act, which is a broad defense policy bill, would not rescind "don't ask, don't tell" until after the Pentagon completes a review of the repeal's impact on the military. The review is due in December and would serve as the basis for necessary certification by the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the military could handle repealing the policy.

Many Republicans complain that Congress should not step in until after that military review is completed.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said approving a repeal provision before finishing the review process would amount to an insult to military personnel.

McCain also is unhappy about Reid's intention to add the immigration provision.

Reid "is turning legislation on our national defense into a political football," McCain said last week. "Politically controversial amendments are crowding out our limited time to debate actual military and defense-related legislation."

Reid denied last week that his scheduling was motivated by politics.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman, have said publicly they support repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

The military already has working groups looking at how it would implement the change if ordered. The groups are looking at everything from housing to entitlements, and even personal displays of affection.

– CNN's Chris Lawrence contributed to this report.


Filed under: Don't Ask Don't Tell
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    The main reason this is SO stupid is that there are already gays/lesbians in the military putting their lives in danger every day just like straight people.
    Since most Americans don't know another language besides "American" let's continue to fire Army personnel who actually speak, read and speak Arabic (any dialect). After all what is more important the safety of our Nation and all Americans or their choice of mates.
    It's 2010 Pentagon. Get with it.

    September 20, 2010 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Politically controversial amendments are crowding out our limited time to debate actual military and defense-related legislation."

    So stop letting them be controversial, putz. They're only sapping political time and energy because you think it gives you and your team political leverage to play your fundy base with the controversy and create a distraction...when everyone knows that the policy is blatantly unconstitutional anyway.

    BTW, have fun watching Prop 8 continue to get shot down like one of Cheney's hunting partners. Bigots.

    September 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Cindie Worley

    Yes, go ahead and change it only to find we have made a horrible mistake and we have to have it changed back to the way it was. What is wrong with Americans that we cannot respect law and order but we have to try to change everything all the time depending on which way the wind is blowing today? Look at your forefathers. They did very well without all these shifting laws. Why is it we believe we are so much smarter than our forefathers (only to find out that they were right all along)??

    September 20, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The GOP say they now have a plan, you know, like you make a stew. Their ingredients include hate, fear, war and putting 90% of Americans population in the pot and boiling us. Yep, that's their plan ladies and gentlemen.

    September 20, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Whatever

    REPEAL IT!!!!!!! Allow these people to live openly and truthfully!!!!

    September 20, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    republicans are for discriminating against gays, no matter what flimsy excuse they use for voting against repealing DADT. i hope the GLBT community remembers their votes on election day. don't vote for the party of HATE.

    September 20, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. PaulC

    What a farce. "Don't Ask..Don't Tell" sounds like a game children play. Did the gov. think that by closing their eyes the issue would go away? It's a fact, a percentage of the population is gay so deal with it and stop playing games.

    September 20, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    So because some popular celebrity gets on TV to promote an agenda, all of a sudden Congress wants to do something? Obama already told the military to review this and they haven't even finished. Stop trying to super-impose your activist agenda when the government is already making progress.

    September 20, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Repeal it already. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, regardless of sexual orientation, maintain military discipline. DADT is immoral and unconstitutional.

    September 20, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Horace Ramtahal

    Freedom is what soldiers fight for. Without them we and the world at large will fall . They should be the fist to share in the bounty of the battle cries for freedom. Yet, we are locking them out of privleges enjoyed by others who are fighting in the same battles. Allow homosexual men and women soldiers to fight free of the cumbersome nature of lies and secrets. All soldiers should be held to a standard becoming a soldier; lying should not be one of them. Personal freedom cannot be fully appreciated if some soldiers have to be denied being truthful to themselves and those they serve with, then what in the name of God and country are they fighting for? Being American soldiers demands a greater dedication to truth and freedom. Long live America and long live the values that separates us from the rest!

    September 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Do it and finally become the Democrats that were elected in 2006 and 2008.
    Don't ask for our support until you keep your promises.

    September 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. imp

    Yeah Cindy – let's go back to the way our forefathers did things... women don't get to vote, African Americans are counted as only 3/5ths human, Polio killed millions & Mexico owned Texas & most of the southwest US, etc. Do these idiots even think before typing? (I know, it's a redundant question)

    September 20, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. lisa

    I don't understand how the GOP can want to keep a law that actually mandates dishonesty.
    How can you actually insist it be written in law that people lie, and claim to be the party of morality and values?

    September 20, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Steph

    Repeal It NOW! Every PATRIOTIC American should be allowed to serve and fight for this great country.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal..."

    September 20, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. vet

    what is the rush..why not wait till the review is done by the pentagon? A disagree with the repelling of this and will always believe it is a mistake but I am willing to see what the current active duty men and women think...

    As for Lady Gaga...really don't care about your adgenda...until you've been there keep your stupid comments about straights that have a problem with it to yourself...You and your celebrity friends are morons and know nothing of real life so please stick to your singing please!!!

    And for the Dems blaming the DADT on the GOP...Bill Clinton put this in place not the GOP! Learn your history before you start spouting off nonsense.

    September 20, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. get real

    I suspect Cindie will happily give up her right to vote since her forefathers thought she, and all other of her "kind", were too dumb, emotional and weak to make good decisions.

    September 20, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. The reality is...

    Yay, Lady Gaga is leading the show...and who really gives a hoot?????

    September 20, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    like the lady said......it is unconstitutional, so do your jobs and get rid of it.

    September 20, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  19. Russell NC

    Most of these comments are from people who have not been there. Let the Pentagon finish its review.

    September 20, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Luis Teixiera

    those republicans are going to opose to everything that the goberment put on the floor.....must be a shame for be americans...the republicans win the mayority of the senate they are going don't let work to any plan of the goverment....that is for why we have to vote for democrats or independents, because the next 2 years are going to be a nigthmare if the republicans show up in the congresss.....good for the don tell law....and the dream act for get the student with identity and the familys of the citizen tooo.....

    September 20, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. D0 not reply to this

    Enough already! Other countries are doing it. Lets' get this thing over with and move on to more IMPORTANT things! Just because someone is GAY does NOT mean they want to go to bed with everyone they see!

    September 20, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  22. Russ

    Why does there need to be a vote on this? Seems like a no brainer to me. Just pull a Bush and make an Executive Order that ends the policy. Done deal.

    September 20, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |