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DADT Opponents Lobbying With the Stars

Tom Williams/Roll Call
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, at a news conference Monday, says he is still looking for the 60 votes to move a bill that would repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Some critics questioned whether a pop star who recently drew headlines for wearing a dress composed of slabs of raw meat would have much sway over lawmakers. But Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN’s executive director who was in Portland on Monday, said the performer could reach a broader audience, which could bring pressure on the Senators.

“I have no illusions [the Senators] will cast their vote solely because of what Lady Gaga says,” said Sarvis, an Army veteran. But he said that she “casts a spotlight on the issue itself. She doesn’t talk about procedure.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP gay rights group, was skeptical that Lady Gaga would make a difference.

“You have to question how many Senators know or care who she is,” he said.

Cooper added that some of the more liberal gay groups have misdirected their lobbying. He said they should try to persuade Majority Leader Harry Reid to deal with the Republican complaints that they are not being allowed to consider more amendments to the defense authorization measure.

The Log Cabin Republicans on Monday issued a statement calling on the Nevada Democrat to compromise with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“This historic achievement should not be scuttled because the Democratic majority has decided to exclude Republicans from the Legislative process,” the statement said.

Blame Game

Collins endorsed the view that Republicans should be able to offer more amendments, according to a statement from her office.

“She would like the Senate to proceed to a full and open debate on the Defense Authorization bill, with members able to offer amendments on all relevant issues,” according to the statement by her spokesman, Kevin Kelley. “She has encouraged Senator Reid to work with Republican leaders to negotiate such an agreement so that the defense bill can be brought to the floor this week.”

Snowe also issued a statement that indicated she was unlikely to support moving ahead on the measure.

She said the Senate should be able to debate more than the three amendments that Reid is allowing. She also said that while the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy needs a thorough review, Congress should first be able to review the Pentagon report on the policy. That report is expected on Dec. 1.

Democrats, however, say the procedural complaints are merely an excuse by a number of Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), to prevent the elimination of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which was put in place during the Clinton administration. McCain has repeatedly threatened to filibuster the repeal of the policy.

Mitch Stewart, director of Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic National Committee, sent a message to supporters Monday urging them to call McCain’s office and “ask him to stop standing in the way.”

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