UPDATED: Senate Committee and House approve compromise on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 today to pass a compromise that will probably lead to repeal of the prohibition on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote for the compromise. Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it. I wouldn't have predicted that Webb would vote no when people like Evan Bayh, Robert Byrd and Ben Nelson voted yes.

This bill appears to have the votes to pass on the Senate floor. Representative Patrick Murphy is offering a comparable amendment to the Defense Authorization bill in the House. Technically, it's not correct to call this a "repeal" of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell, because the legislation allows officials at the White House, Pentagon and Joint Chiefs to leave the policy in place.

Here's what will happen if the amendment makes it into the final bill passed by the House and Senate:

When the President signs the Department of Defense Authorization bill into law, DADT will not instantly be repealed. Repeal would take place only after the study group completes its work in December 2010 and after the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense all certify that repeal will not hurt military readiness or unit cohesion.

So, gay and lesbian soldiers will continue to be discharged several months (and perhaps several years) from now. Still, I agree with Adam Bink; this has to be viewed as a "giant step" toward taking Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the books. Ideally, Congress would have passed stronger legislation, but I'd rather have them pass this deal now than shoot for something better next year. If Republicans took control of the House or Senate, we'd have no hope of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell for a long time.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: The House passed Murphy's amendment 234 to 194, with 26 Democrats voting no and five Republicans voting yes. The five Republicans who broke party ranks were Charles Djou (HI-01), Joseph Cao (LA-02), Judy Biggert (IL-13), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Ron Paul (TX-14). I don't have the list yet of the Democrats who voted no.

UPDATE: Here is the House roll call. I'm pleased to see that my Blue Dog Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03), a Vietnam veteran, voted yes.

Family Research Council Calls DADT Deal Part Of Obama/Pelosi "Radical Social Agenda"

"You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight."

-U.S. Senator Barry "Mr. Conservative" Goldwater (R - Arizona)

By now, news has reached the masses of a deal to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly and honorably in the military [Meckler, Laura (2010-5-25).  Deal to End Ban On Gays in Military Takes ShapeWall Street Journal.  Retrieved on 2010-5-25.].  Sen. Joe Lieberman (I - Connecticut) plans on offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, currently pending in the Senate Armed Services Committee, that ends "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Conservatives are already gearing up for a fight on the Lieberman amendment. 

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement Monday night:

"Tonight, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a back room deal that disregards the views of our troops and uses the military to advance the political agenda of a radical special interest group."

In addition, Tony Perkins' Family Research Council took out an ad in Politico Tuesday that criticizing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan for her support of ending DADT.

"What Do Kagan, Levin and Pelosi have in common?,"  the ad asks.  "Using the military to advance their radical social agenda."

I have but one question for Tony Perkins, his Family Research Council and any other conservative considering opposing the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell. . ."


Iowa marriage equality anniversary thread

One year ago today, the Iowa Supreme Court's Varnum v Brien ruling went into effect. From April 27, 2009 through the end of last year, at least 1,783 same-sex couples received marriage licenses in Iowa. The real number is probably higher, because about 900 marriage licenses did not specify the gender of the couple involved. Despite a petition drive led by some Iowa Republicans and the Iowa Family Policy Center, not a single county recorder denied a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Although all three Republican candidates for governor say they want to overturn the Varnum v Brien ruling, marriage equality is probably here to stay. Conservative groups are not urging voters to pass a ballot initiative calling for a constitutional convention, which would be the quickest path to amend the Iowa constitution. Bob Vander Plaats probably won't win the Republican nomination for governor, much less the November election, and even if he did, his plan to halt gay marriage by executive order is a non-starter.

That leaves the self-styled defenders of traditional marriage one path: approving an amendment restricting marriage rights in two separately elected Iowa legislatures, then convincing a majority of Iowans to vote for that amendment (in November 2014 at the earliest).

Republicans have an outside shot at winning a majority in the Iowa House in 2010, but they have virtually no chance of taking back the Iowa Senate this year. Democrats currently hold a 32-18 majority in the upper chamber. A net gain of four or five seats is the best-case scenario for the GOP, and I consider a net gain of two or three seats much more likely. That leaves Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal in a position to block all efforts to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a floor vote during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.

Gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts claims he could force Democrats to allow a marriage vote. His plan is to veto all legislation, including the state budget, until the Iowa House and Senate have voted on a marriage amendment. I doubt a Republican could win that game of chicken even if Governor Chet Culver is defeated this November. Polling indicates that most Iowans are not eager to ban gay marriage and think the state legislature has more important things to do. Anyway, the most likely Republican nominee, Terry Branstad, has an incoherent position on gay marriage and probably would make only a token effort to get a constitutional amendment passed.

Share any thoughts about same-sex marriage in Iowa in this thread.

Speaking of civil rights, some reports indicate that the House of Representatives will vote this year to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which has ended far too many military careers. Click here to read a moving open letter to President Obama from an Air Force major who was discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Healthy Pressure From The Gay Community

The reception to AMERICAblog's DNC boycottdonation pause seems pretty positive.

Yet I've talked to a few Democrats who worry that the gay community's demands might be too lofty - i.e. the repeal of DOMA. But it's important to remember that a) all the things demanded by AMERICAblog's petition were pledged by candidate Obama before the election, and b) activism like this is not intended to cause massive political harm, but rather to provide a wake-up call to those in positions of power - to remind our leaders that the gay community intends to hold its representatives to their word.

And to the second point, we might be seeing an initial result:

Pressure works: Barney Frank now says DADT likely to come up next spring

Posted by John Aravosis (DC) at 11:25 AM

And don't for a minute think that Barney didn't say this to try to help the White House out of a tight spot because of the DNC boycott. He clearly did. Which means they're worried. And that's good. But it's not enough, and here's why.

Nowhere in the story does the White House say the same thing about a possible repeal coming next spring.

A few years back, Markos and Jerome's book "Crashing the Gates" taught us that activists needed to start taking ownership of their own political advocacy - in part because DC-based groups had become co-opted dinosaurs more interested in their own preservation than in actually advancing the causes of the constituencies they supposedly represented.

AMERICAblog's activism is crashing the gates.

There's more...

Honesty Amongst Friends

The President spoke to the the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT organization, at their annual dinner. You can view the speech over at the Huffington Post. In his speech, the President noted that "it's important to be honest amongst friends." Well in that vein, I'll admit that I haven't bothered to watch the speech though I will read the transcript, otherwise I might fall prey to his bedazzling rhetoric. In any regard, I'm sure that I've heard it all before. That's Obama's problem. He's long on promises and short on delivery.

It's not that I have lost faith on LGBT issues in the President, I haven't. I'm sure he will move the ball forward on a number of LGBT issues but none of those are going to happen tomorrow. Here's more honesty for Obama from his friends.

John Aravosis asks Where's the Beef?:

Barack Obama just promised us that if he becomes president, he's going to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and get ENDA passed. It was a bit surreal. I'm sitting at a fundraiser for the No on 1 effort in Maine (that Obama didn't even bother to mention), and we were all just speechless (actually, hardly speechless - and I thought yelling at the TV was long since over). Obama repeated his campaign promises. That was it.

Up in Seattle, The Stranger's Dan Savage is also a tad underwhelmed:

My reaction: a friend has been sending me ecstatic emails about the speech. I just watched it--the speech is every bit as good as the ones candidate Obama gave, as the performance candidate Obama delivered at the HRC/Logo Democratic Primary Debate, as the open letter to the LGBT community that candidate Obama released before last November's election. Imagine all the wonderful things this guy is going to accomplish if he ever actually gets elected president. In other words: sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service.

I sense a pattern developing.

There's more...


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