US House votes to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’; goes to Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The US House of Representatives has passed a repeal of the nation’s ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces. The stand-alone bill now heads to the US Senate, where backers of repeal say they have enough votes to pass the measure.
The House passed a stand-alone bill to repeal the ban, commonly referred by the name of its Pentagon enforcement policy “Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT), on Wednesday by a vote of 250 in favor to 175 against.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins lambasted the House for voting to repeal DADT.
“By making this change, and putting it as a priority over the actual funding of the troops, Congress is choosing to use the military, not as a tool for national defense, but as an instrument of social engineering,” said Perkins, a former US Marine.
Perkins added that Congress “instead chose to placate a key liberal constituency, insistent homosexual activists” rather than listen to the objections of frontline combat troops and commanders like Marine Corps Commandant James Amos.
Amos on Tuesday told Stars and Stripes, a US military newspaper, that he did not want DADT repeal because of the distractions that could result and cost the lives of his Marines. He said he took this position based on the responses of a majority of combat arms Marines to the Pentagon survey on DADT repeal, who cited concerns over negative effects on unit cohesion.
“Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” he said. “That’s the currency of this fight.”
“I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.” (see story )
The US House passed a repeal of DADT, but attached it as an amendment to a defense authorization bill funding the US military. A similar defense authorization bill failed in the Senate after US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unsuccessfully called for a cloture vote to break the GOP filibuster.
The measure now heads to the US Senate, where four Republicans have pledged to cross the aisle and vote with the Democrat majority to repeal DADT. Only Democrat US Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has broken with his party to oppose repeal.
US Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is the latest to announce that he would support repeal of DADT in a stand alone bill. ABC News reports that Brown’s spokesman made the announcement that the GOP Senator would vote to repeal “if and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote.”
Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have also stated that they would vote for the stand-alone bill passed by the House. The support of the four Republican Senators means there are at least 61 votes for passage.
However, the only thing that stands in the way of repealing the historic ban on homosexuals serving in the US military may actually be time. With just over a week before Christmas begins, the Senate still has to debate and hold votes on a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, and ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. The White House has indicated that both items are priorities - more than DADT repeal - that must be completed by the year’s end.
Republicans are forcing a reading of the entire 1900 page omnibus spending bill, which will take clerks 50 hours of non-stop reading to complete. That will force votes on the legislation to Saturday - burning out more of the clock remaining for the lame-duck session.
Reid has indicated that there is no guarantee a vote will be held on DADT repeal. The Democrat leader of the US Senate has said that vote will likely depend on how much time Republicans spend holding up legislation in the Senate, while the Christmas recess steadily approaches. If a vote is scheduled, it will likely be for this weekend, after the vote on the spending bill and before the Senate commences debate on START.