News / USA

US Senator Says Votes Exist to End ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’

Senator Joseph Lieberman, center, gestures during a news conference pushing for the repeal of the military 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' rule, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, 18 November 2010
Senator Joseph Lieberman, center, gestures during a news conference pushing for the repeal of the military 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' rule, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, 18 November 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

There are now enough votes in the U.S. Senate to proceed on a bill that would end America's ban on openly-gay military service. So says a senator who advocates repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - a law that allows homosexuals to serve in the armed forces only if their sexuality remains secret. But it is unclear whether there is enough time for the Senate to debate and vote on the matter in a brief, end-of-year session.

Perhaps no U.S. legislative initiative has seen more ups and downs this year than the effort to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a law that has led to the expulsion of 14,000 gay military personnel since its enactment in 1993.

In January, President Barack Obama announced he would press for repeal of the law. Soon after, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said they, too, believed the ban on openly-gay military service should end.

The Pentagon ordered an exhaustive study to gauge military attitudes toward a change in policy, and how to implement that change without harming morale or combat effectiveness in a time of war.

Meanwhile, a provision to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was attached to an annual U.S. defense spending bill. The bill passed in the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate, where Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to block debate on the legislation.

With time running out for action this year, and Republicans increasing their numbers in the Senate beginning next year, proponents of repeal openly fretted that the best chance to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may have slipped by.

Not so, according to independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut at a news conference last week.

"I am confident we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the Defense Authorization bill with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. And we are going to keep fighting in the spirit of the American military, until we get the job done."

In addition to nearly all Democrats, Lieberman said he had a commitment from two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana, to vote to proceed on the bill, as long as debate on the measure is full and open.

Shortly thereafter, reports surfaced that two other Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Ensign of Nevada, were also prepared to vote for repeal if the Pentagon study concluded it could be done with a minimum of disruption to the military.

The study is to be released December 1, but details of a draft copy were leaked to The Washington Post newspaper. The study reportedly concludes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can be abolished with little or no impact on military effectiveness, and that 70 percent of U.S. troops have few if any objections to serving alongside openly gay soldiers.

Now the question becomes whether the Senate can act in the waning weeks of 2010.

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California says the ban must end.

"We have got to move toward equality or we lose the essence of our nation. And this vote is about moving toward equality. People are fighting for our country. And for absolutely no reason, they find themselves tossed out of the military -- no reason that has anything to do with their ability to fight and defend this nation," says Boxer.

But not everyone is convinced the policy should change. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona says the Pentagon study is flawed because its primary purpose was to examine how best to implement repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- not whether the law should or should not be abolished.

"I want a thorough and complete study of the effect [of repeal] on morale and battle effectiveness of the United States military. I will listen, as I have said for years, to our military leaders, and not to a study that is leaked [to the press]."

McCain was speaking on NBC's Meet the Press program, where he said Congress should hold hearings to determine whether the Pentagon study adequately addresses all issues related to repealing the ban on openly-gay military service.

Nearly all of America's NATO allies allow homosexuals to serve openly. Nations that do not permit the practice include Cuba, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Recent public opinion polls show a clear majority of Americans favor ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid