Senate Vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Blocked

Human Rights 12.9,10

A minority of senators succeeded today in blocking consideration of legislation that would repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“The Senate’s vote blocking the repeal of this discriminatory policy is an insult to our gay and lesbian veterans and service members, and a loss for our country,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ turned its back on the principle that people who are willing and able to do a job should be given a fair opportunity to do so. This is not only one of the most important principles behind the struggle to guarantee the civil and human rights of all people – it is also a matter of sound military strategy and common sense.”

This is the second time that a minority of senators prevented the Senate from voting on the repeal of the law, which requires lesbian and gay servicemembers to conceal their sexual orientation or face expulsion from the military. In September, some senators blocked a vote on the Department of Defense authorization bill after the repeal legislation was added to it as an amendment.

The Senate’s inaction comes at a time when support for repeal is high with 75 percent of Americans saying that they support allowing openly gay and lesbian servicemembers to serve in the military.

In addition, military leaders and the Obama administration have expressed support for repeal.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of repeal following the release of a Pentagon study, which found that repeal would pose little risk to military effectiveness. 

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I. Ct., has pledged to move repeal legislation as a standalone bill, which many in the civil and human rights community support.

“We encourage all Senators to expeditiously take up this bill and pass it quickly so that the military has the power to implement a repeal of ‘don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The fight for open service has had many twists and turns but until ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is left in the dustbin of history we will never give up the fight.”