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posted Friday, September 24, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 39
DADT blocked in the Senate: 'It is shameful that bigotry and partisan - politics have subverted fairness, justice, and good government -'
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DADT blocked in the Senate: 'It is shameful that bigotry and partisan - politics have subverted fairness, justice, and good government -'

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On September 21, Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT), the law banning Gays from serving openly in the military.

The 56-43 partisan vote was a defeat for Senate Democrats and Gay rights advocates, who saw the bill as their best chance before November's elections to overturn DADT.

The Dems fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation. It also would have authorized $726 billion in defense spending, including a pay raise for troops.

'It is outrageous that a handful of U.S. Senators has thwarted the will of 75% of the American people by blocking the repeal of DADT,' said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), an openly Lesbian legislator. "President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates, the House of Representatives, and the court of public opinion have already determined that barring Lesbians and Gays from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Forces is not only discriminatory against this group of patriotic Americans, but it threatens our national security by depriving us of the skilled specialists we need to fight terrorism. It is shameful that bigotry and partisan, election-year politics have subverted fairness, justice, and good government in the Senate."

Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.) agreed, saying, "America was dealt a double blow. I am disappointed to see that despite the concerted efforts of the administration and the House of Representatives, the Senate was unable to end this dishonorable law that requires members of our military to lie to their commanding officers. That Congress, who should be working hardest to support these brave men and women, failed is a sad state of affairs. A proposal to delay this vote for even another month is cold comfort to our Gay and Lesbian troops who are risking their lives every day. Ending DADT is no longer a question of if; it is a question of when. As Congress has failed to act, it is now up to the president to uphold his promise to end DADT by not appealing California Federal District Court Judge Virginia Phillips' recent ruling."

On September 21 at 2:15 p.m., the Senate was expected to vote on cloture for the motion to proceed to debate the National Defense Authorization Act. Sixty votes were required to move forward. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lobbied, unsuccessfully, to have moderate Republicans line with the Dems for a vote to break the Senator John McCain-led filibuster.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending DADT, issued a statement on the U.S. Senate's failure to break filibuster and repeal DADT. "The Senate vote was a flustering blow to repeal this horrible law," said Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis. "We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. Let's be clear: Opponents of repealing DADT did not have the votes to strike those provisions from the bill. Instead, they had the votes for delay. Time is the enemy here. We now have no choice but to look to the lame duck session, where we'll have a slim shot. The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us. SLDN will continue to take this fight to the American people, the vast majority of whom support repeal of DADT."

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