Don't Ask Don't Tell fails to get votes in Senate

Tue. September 21, 2010 2:10 PM by News Staff

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate failed to advance a measure that would have let gays serve openly in the military.

60 votes were needed to break a filibuster by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains the repeal of DADT. The bill stalled with a 56-43 vote.

McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, lead the expected filibuster with a partisan vote by Republicans. Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor from Arkansas sided with Republicans to block the bill.

During a rally Monday in Maine, pop star Lady Gaga and advocates called on Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and other moderate GOP senators to oppose the filibuster. Collins and Snowe, who both oppose DADT, joined their party in the filibuster.

Though Republicans remained united against the measure, which also authorized $726 billion in defense spending, a number of GOP senators ultimately favor the elimination of DADT. Republicans say Democratic leaders limited debate in trying to rush a vote.

Army veteran and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis issued the following statement:

"Today's Senate vote was a frustrating blow to repeal this horrible law. We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. Let's be clear: Opponents to repealing ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' 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. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will continue to take this fight to the American people, the vast majority of whom support repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

SLDN is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending DADT.

"Yesterday's silence from Barack Obama will not be forgotten,' Army Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged under DADT in July, tweeted to his followers after today's vote.

"Once again, politicians are playing politics with people's lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and the DREAM Act — two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness — is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today's Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed," said Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

More than 14,000 service members have been fired under DADT since it was passed by Congress in 1993.

A Government Accounting Office study identified almost $200 million in costs for the first teen years of DADT.

The US and Turkey are the only two original NATO countries that still have LGBT bans in place.