During the question-and-answer session at the Capitol appearance of Senator Harry Reid and Judy Shepard, Reid was asked by Chris Johnson from the Washington Blade if he supports Senator Gillibrand’s legislation to put an 18-month moratorium on discharges under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He does, but he’d go further and end DADT permanently.
Kerry Eleveld from the Advocate has some key background on this issue:
“I would make it permanent,” [Reid] added, suggesting that he would permanently suspend discharges.
Reid’s comments gave a boost to an amendment that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is considering offering to the DOD legislation that would suspend investigations of soldiers suspected to be gay — thereby stopping discharges of soldiers under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — until the end of the 111th Congress.
A spokesman for Gillibrand said Monday that the New York Democrat “wholeheartedly supports” full repeal of the military’s gay ban. “This is one avenue she would consider pursuing if there is sufficient support,” said Matt Canter.
Which is still a big “if” at the moment since Gillibrand would have to find 60 votes over a two-week span in which the Senate is consumed with climate change legislation, health reform, and the confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
But LGBT organizations generally favor the strategy.
That is a very big “if.” John and I have both told anyone who would listen that while the Hate Crimes bill is important, to a large extent, the community wants more. Much more. Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a top priority and the Obama administration has been playing political games with that issue — even as servicemen and women are being kicked out.
If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is going to move in the Senate, it would be helpful to know what the strategy is. More than helpful. It’s imperative. We’ll need the whip list to know who is with us and who isn’t. If there isn’t even a whip list, then this isn’t really a well thought out legislative strategy (although it may be a good political strategy for Gillibrand.) Also, a key question for those pushing the 18-month moratorium is whether it actually gets us additional votes. If it doesn’t, then we’re just compromising with ourselves.
So, still unclear on any legislative action to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — for now anyway. We’re going to keep watching this closely — and we’re waiting to know how it’s going to proceed. This is way too important to push without making sure we’ve all done everything possible to insure success.