Stand-alone DADT Repeal Passes House; Ross Votes Against

15 Dec

Hoping to put pressure on the Senate with less than three weeks remaining in the session, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a stand-alone bill today that would finally end the military’s discriminatory ban on openly gay men and women serving in the armed forces.

The House voted 250-175 to repeal the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, with 15 Republicans voting in favor and 15 Democrats voting against, including Arkansas Reps John Boozman and Mike Ross (Snyder voted “yes” and Berry was a no-show…again). We would expect nothing less from Repug Boozman, but what’s keeping Ross from coming around? Still voting no, despite the President, Secretary of Defense Gates, the majority of current military service members, the majority of Arkansans, and even fellow conservadem Mark Pryor having had enough of this discrimination?

Senate action is now required for the bill to go to the president’s desk before new members of the House and Senate will be sworn in and Republicans will take back control of the House Jan. 4, which will render a serious repeal effort will be all but dead in the short-term. The House had previously voted on a defense authorization bill that included DADT repeal, but efforts stalled in the Senate as Republicans successfully filibustered the bill and few conservadems were willing to get on the side of social progress.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is pleased with today’s House of Representatives vote to repeal the law that bans gays from serving openly in the military, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said, and he hopes the Senate will follow suit before its current session ends.

“[The secretary] encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts,” Morrell said.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama praised House leaders for moving forward on repeal.

“I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010,” the president said. “Legislative repeal is supported by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks.

“Indeed,” he continued, “all of the service chiefs have said that when this law is changed, they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently. As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security.”

Ross, on the other hand, apparently knows better than them (and most of the rest of us):

“I believe the current ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is working for our Armed Forces and now is not the time to enact this change while our service men and women are in the middle of two ongoing wars. Several military commanders and generals strongly oppose repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and we simply cannot ignore those voices in this debate.

“I agree with one service member who was quoted in the Defense Department’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ survey when he said, ‘I believe this is not the time for us to make huge changes in the military. We are at war and our men and women overseas do not need any more distractions. This issue should be addressed at the appropriate time. That time is not now.”

UPDATE: The Huffington Post is reporting that there may be hope for a 60-vote/filibuster proof DADT repeal measure passing in the Senate:

Steny Hoyer spoke with HuffPost Hill after the House vote and said that he’s been told by Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins that they have at least 60 commitments to support repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Hoyer said that he reached out to Lieberman after the last failed Senate cloture vote and offered to have the House move first. “I called and talked to a number of people. I then called Senator Lieberman and said, ‘Joe, my intent will be to talk to Congressman Murphy,’ — who’s the sponsor of the amendment that was adopted in the defense bill — ‘and put this in as a free standing bill, because we can probably send it over to you more quickly than you can send to us.’ And he agreed and we introduced exactly the same bill that we have in the Senate,” Hoyer said.

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