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Historic 'Don't Ask' repeal bill introduced in Senate

Washington, DC — Gay groups are cheering Wednesday's Senate introduction of a bill that would repeal "don't ask, don't tell," the military policy that bans open gay service.

Independent Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is the lead sponsor of the measure titled the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010.

"Today Senator Lieberman made history," Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal of the law, said in a statement. "We applaud the Senator's unwavering commitment to a strong national defense and civil rights."

Signed into law by President Clinton, the 1993 law prescribes discharge for gay and lesbian service members who do not remain closeted or celibate.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights advocate, called introduction of the bill "bold" and "patriotic," adding that Lieberman's support in the Senate was "critical to achieving repeal this year."

Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the bill's likely destination, cosponsored the measure. Other early cosponsors include Democratic Senators Mark Udall of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Dianne Feinstein of California and Al Franken of Minnesota.

"In a time of two wars, any policy that leads to the discharge of talented and capable troops threatens our national security and wastes resources," Senator Udall said in an Huffington Post op-ed Wednesday. "That's exactly what 'don't ask, don't tell' has been doing for 17 years. And that's why, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and original cosponsor of this bill, I'm proud to be leading the charge to finally – and fully – repeal this unfair and outmoded law."

A House version of the bill was introduced last year and has attracted 189 cosponsors. Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, took over sponsorship of the measure after California Representative Ellen Tauscher accepted an appointment in the Obama administration.

The Pentagon's top brass, including Defense Secretary Roberts Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have publicly announced they support President Obama's pledge to end the policy, but service chiefs from the various armed forces have testified against repeal or have expressed trepidation. Secretary Gates has called for a study on the issue.

"It's full steam ahead for legislative repeal this year," Sarvis said. "Congress must do its job and repeal DADT this year while the Department of Defense conducts its study over the coming year. SLDN will be squarely focused on the handful of Democratic and Republican senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee, who will determine whether repeal is done this year, or not."

The committee's ranking Republican is Arizona Senator John McCain, who has become the Republican face of opposition on repeal.

Recent polling shows a majority of Americans agree the ban is discriminatory and should be repealed.

Approximately 66,000 gay, lesbian and bisexual people are currently serving in the Armed Forces, about 2.2% of all military personnel, a recent UCLA study found. The military has spent up to $500 million implementing the gay ban.

Lawmakers are unlikely to attempt passage of a stand-alone version of the bill in the Senate. Instead, they have alluded to a plan that would tuck the legislation in next year's defense authorization bill. Proponents hope the strategy will head off a Republican-led filibuster.
Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine
imagine if we dont have DADT, we would save lots of resources for better use.
Posted by angie on Tue, 3/9/2010 6:46 PM
{ts '2018-05-21 19:13:09'}