CNN – Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Connecticut, announced Monday that he will be the main sponsor of a bill calling for the repeal of the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The policy requires gay and lesbian service members to stay quiet about their sexual orientation or risk expulsion. Commanding officers are also prohibited from asking subordinates about their orientation. Since the law was passed in 1993, more than 13,000 otherwise qualified service men and women have been discharged.
In a statement on his Web site, Lieberman writes that he would "be proud" to sponsor a bill to allow "patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security." The senator also writes that he has opposed the current policy since its inception in 1993. Lieberman has said the legislation will be introduced next week.
The CNN Fact Check Desk wondered whether Lieberman really has opposed the current policy since its inception. We also wanted to take a look at Lieberman's record on gay rights legislation.
Fact Check: Has Sen. Joe Lieberman opposed the current policy on "don't ask, don't tell" since its inception? What is the senator's legislative track record on gay rights issues?
- In 1993, Lieberman voted in favor of an amendment to a $261 billion defense appropriations bill that would have removed the original "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but the amendment was rejected. Despite his objection to the inclusion of the policy, Lieberman voted "yes" on the defense spending
bill, H.R. 2401. It was signed into law November 19, 1993, by President Bill Clinton.
- In September 1996, Lieberman voted "yes" on H.R. 3396, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage under federal law as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." The act was passed and became law.
- Lieberman was one of three co-sponsors of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1996, a bill calling for the prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but it was defeated.
- He announced his opposition in 2004 to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The measure died in the Senate in 2004 and 2006. Lieberman voted to continue debate on the bill, effectively killing it, both times.
- The senator co-sponsored the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act in May 2009. The bill, which would provide benefits to federal employees with domestic partners, is still in committee.
- Lieberman voted "yes" on an October 2009 measure to change the definition of a hate crime to include victims targeted because of sexual orientation. The measure, part of a large spending bill, was passed and became law.
The senator is correct in saying that he has opposed the legislation since its inception, though he did vote for the defense spending bill that included the controversial policy on gays in the military. His yes vote on the amendment calling for its removal shows he was against that particular aspect of the
legislation. Including his support of repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" legislation, Lieberman has mostly voted in support of gay issues.
- CNN's Ted Barrett and Craig Broffman contributed to this fact check