by desmoinesdem, Thu May 27, 2010 at 08:23:19 PM EDT
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When the President signs the Department of Defense Authorization bill into law, DADT will not instantly be repealed.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.