The United States Senate debated a stand-alone repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy today. The debate came after several failed attempts by the Senate to pass repeal as an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.
Senate Republicans previously blocked the measures by forcing continued debate. Today was the first time that the Senate was able to pass cloture, allowing a final vote on the bill. The cloture vote was 63 to 33. Some 60 votes were needed for it to pass.
Senate votes for cloture on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ repeal almost certain
A final vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, could come as early as this afternoon, according to C-Span. President Obama supports repeal of the policy and is expected to sign the legislation into law.
After the Senate failed to move forward on the previous defense bills, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) put forward a stand-alone “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal measure apart from any other legislation. It was allowed to bypass committee. The announcement of today’s vote came late in the week.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an identical measure earlier in the week by a vote of 250 to 175. Some 15 House Republicans voted for repeal.
Lieberman, who introduced the bill, said today that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was inconsistent with American values.
“From the beginning, America has been a different nation,” Lieberman said. “Our founders defined America based on our values. In this country, you’re not judged by who you are but how you perform.”
“In our society, the American military is the one institution that still commands the respect of Americans. To force this policy, as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does, is to force them to be less than they want to be, less than they can be. These people simply want to serve their country.”
During debate several Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), questioned whether the policy was constitutional.
Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss spoke out against repeal, saying that the time is not right for repeal based on the military’s ongoing commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Here we are in the middle of two military conflicts where men and women are getting shot at, killed in a part of the world that is of critical importance,” Chambliss said on the floor. “We have a policy in place called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that’s been in place for 18 years now and it’s worked.”
“Should it be done at some time? Maybe so, but the middle of a military conflict is not the time to do so,” Chambliss closed.
Today’s session also included debate on the DREAM Act, an immigration bill, which failed to secure cloture.