Why DADT Repeal Isn’t Dead

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The failure of the Senate to defeat a filibuster of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" yesterday, by a 57-to-40 vote, was a major blow, but not a fatal one, to efforts to end the 1993 law banning gays from serving openly in the military. Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins promise to bring DADT up for another vote before the lame-duck session is out, this time in its own legislation instead of embedded inside the defense-authorization bill. And there's reason to believe they'll be able to break the filibuster.

For one, outgoing Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln was one of two Democrats not to vote for the bill, but only because she was "in a dentist chair, and ran back and missed it by three minutes," according to Lieberman. But assuming that the next vote doesn't coincide with her optometrist appointment, Lincoln would be number 58. We're a third of the way there already!

Meanwhile, it's clear that there is more than enough support among Republican moderates, as long as the "process" surrounding the new bill is handled to their liking — maybe they'll be a little less particular, now that the bill is being shepherded to the floor by Lieberman and Collins, instead of Reid. "I am convinced that there are 60 or even 61 or [62] votes to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” Collins claims. Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also tells Politico, "Not to suggest this [stand-alone option] is by any means easy, but it would seem under the circumstances we have gained the support now of up to five or six Republicans.”

Both the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are continuing to apply pressure in the hopes of getting rid of DADT this year. Earlier this morning, Gates made a pitch seemingly targeted at those fence-sitting GOP moderates who will ultimately decide the bill's fate.


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Congress Friday that its failure to pass legislation to allow gays to serve openly in the armed forces will put the U.S. military at the "mercy of the courts," urging lawmakers to act in the limited time left before the end of the year.

You hear that, Republicans? The courts! Telling people to do things. You hate it when that happens.

'Don't ask' repeal won't die [Politico]
Gates Warns on Failure to Repeal Gay Ban [WSJ]