[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/14/art.lieberman.jpg caption="Sen. Joe Lieberman will lead the push to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy."]Washington (CNN) - The push to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell will have an unlikely leader: Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The famously centrist senator from Connecticut said Monday that he would be a sponsor of legislation to be introduced next week.
"I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity," Lieberman said in a statement. "I have opposed the current policy of preventing gay Americans from openly serving in the military since its enactment in 1993.
"To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause," he said. "I am grateful for the leadership of President Obama to repeal the policy and the support of Secretary Gates and Chief of Staff Admiral Mullen."
In taking the lead on the legislation, Lieberman is breaking with close friend John McCain, who opposes rolling back the policy.
Lieberman told the New York Daily News on Monday that he sees repealing the policy "as an extension, the next step of the civil rights movement."