Senate fails to advance 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' repeal

[JURIST] The US Senate on Tuesday rejected [roll call vote] a cloture motion on the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2011 [S 3454 materials], a defense appropriations bill that would have repealed the US armed forces' "Don't ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) [10 USC § 654 materials; JURIST news archive] policy. The motion was rejected by a 56-43 vote largely along party lines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) voted no for procedural reasons, as Senate rules will permit him to raise a motion to reconsider the bill only if he voted with the majority. Republican Senator Susan Collins (ME) [official website], a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) [official website] who has publicly supported the repeal, also voted no, citing a desire to entertain more amendment proposals [press release] from Senate Republicans. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) [official website], who also serves on the SASC, expressed disappointment [press release] in the vote, but said he is "confident that we will repeal this policy that is unjust and discriminatory and counter to both our national values and our national security." The defense appropriations bill also contains a rider providing for implementation of the DREAM Act [S 729 text], which would provide a legal path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as college attendance or military service. The bill also contains $726 billion in military appropriations, including a pay raise for personnel.

Since its enactment in 1993, approximately 13,000 servicemen and women have been discharged from the armed forces as a result of DADT. Earlier this month, a judge in the US District Court for the Central District of California [official website] struck the policy down [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] on the grounds that it is not necessary to further important government interest in military readiness. Last month, a US military officer filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] seeking to enjoin the military from discharging him under DADT. In May, the House of Representatives [official website] and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to repeal the policy after President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to a compromise [JURIST reports] that would prevent the repeal from taking effect until the completion of a review to determine what effects the repeal would have on military effectiveness, soldier retention and family readiness. Also in May, A CNN poll [results, PDF] released found that 78 percent of American adults believe that homosexuals should be able to serve openly in the military. In March, Gates announced changes to the enforcement [JURIST report] of the policy to make it more difficult to expel openly gay service members from the military.

 

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