A trio of Senators is stepping up the pressure on their colleagues to vote to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy during the lame-duck session of Congress set to kick off Nov. 15.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday by Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), the lawmakers call on Senate leaders to “act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ during the lame duck session.”
The Senators say now is the time to do away with the policy, which bars openly gay service members, because it “not only discriminates against but also dishonors” their service. They point to the “orderly manner” in which the policy would be repealed per the process outlined in the defense bill; that process requires a green light from President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, both of whom have advocated repeal.
“It is important that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill,” the Senators said.
Their statement comes as Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) have begun discussing whether to keep the repeal in the defense authorization bill, which is stalled in the Senate. McCain, the most vocal Senate critic of a repeal, has been threatening to filibuster the defense bill so long as it includes the provision. The House passed the defense measure with the repeal in it earlier this year.
In their statement, the Senators warn against failing to pass a defense authorization bill while the nation is at war.
“The Senate has passed a defense bill for 48 consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now,” they said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.