Today, SLDN and HRC announced a joint campaign to secure the votes for DADT repeal. Via press release:
HRC and SLDN’s efforts will be specifically focused on 10 states with key lawmakers whose votes on DADT repeal are critical: Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia. HRC will also engage the LGBT community and our allies in those states on ENDA in addition to on-the-ground work for ENDA in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Supporters of equality are encouraged to meet with Representatives and Senators while they are in their districts and states for the August Congressional recess.
To participate, individuals can sign up at countdown2010.hrc.org . There, they’ll find downloadable meeting toolkits, videos on in-district meetings and information on how to schedule a meeting and report back on how it went.
The next few weeks will be critical. It’s expected that the Defense Authorization bill, which includes the compromise DADT repeal language, will hit the Senate floor in September. There will be efforts by repeal opponents to remove the language or to further weaken it.
Proof of why this intensive lobbying is needed is evident in Chris Johnson’s interview with Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln:
While saying she supported the committee’s move, Lincoln wouldn’t say whether she would support a substitute amendment or a motion to strike with regard to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.
“I don’t know what they’re going to offer,” she said. “Until they offer anything, I don’t think it’s right for me to answer anything like that.”
Lincoln added she wouldn’t support a filibuster of the defense bill as a whole over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.
That’s typically squirrelly language from a Senator. One major concern is the potential amendment to add the four Service Chiefs to the certification process. SLDN’s Aubrey Sarvis calls that the “killer” amendment. It’s especially insidious, because it’s not about giving the Service Chiefs a say in the certification process. This amendment would insure that there’s different language in the House and Senate bills, which means the language could become a topic for the House-Senate conference on the Defense Authorization bill. Of the four key players involved in the conference (Senators Levin and McCain and Reps. Skelton and McKeon), only one is on our side: Carl Levin.
We’ll need to amp up the pressure. There are many roadblocks and pitfalls to even pass the compromise repeal language. We’re going to need the help of all repeal supporters, including the President, to make sure it really happens.