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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 19, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 47
Reid promises DADT vote in lame duck Senate session
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Reid promises DADT vote in lame duck Senate session

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and top White House officials announced this week that the Democratic majority leader is committed to bringing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) repeal to a vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the end of the year.

According to a joint statement from the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and the Center for American Progress - all present at a November 17 stakeholder meeting for repeal - White House officials told the groups that Reid and Obama stand committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the vote to the floor in the lame-duck session after the Thanksgiving recess.

White House officials present at the meeting included deputy chief of staff Jim Messina and director of legislative affairs Phil Schiliro, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs Chris Kang, and deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Brian Bond. Reid was not present at the meeting.

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (who opposes a repeal of the Gay ban), said he had asked Reid to take up the bill after the Pentagon issues its report on December 1.

This time around, Reid says he will not include the DREAM act - a measure that would provide undocumented students brought to the U.S. as minors with a path to citizenship through higher education or military service - as a stand-alone bill rather than as an amendment to the defense bill.

Republicans mounted a successful filibuster, led by Senator John McCain, against debating the NDAA in September. Republicans were upset with Reid, saying that they were not given a fair shake at adding their own amendments once NDAA reached the Senate floor for debate.

Some Democratic senators are now urging a more open amendment process for this vote.

The fate of DADT still hangs in limbo in the judiciary system as the Supreme Court on November 12 allowed the policy to remain in place while a federal appeals court considers the issue.

Although President Barack Obama has pledged to push lawmakers to repeal the law in the lame-duck session before a new Congress is sworn in, administration lawyers have defended DADT in court, ultimately angering LGBT equality organizations who criticize the president for not signing an executive order to do away with the discriminatory policy.

One such group, GetEQUAL, says they have no plans on letting up on the pressure they are applying to the White House and Congress to repeal DADT.

On November 15 Gay rights activists - including nine veterans, Catholic priests, and other advocates -- briefly handcuffed themselves to the White House's north gate. All demonstrators were arrested after shouting they were 'proud to serve' and vowing, 'We will not disappear.'

'Today, we have sent a loud and clear message to the U.S. Senate and President Obama that we expect them to make good on their promises to end this inhumane law this year, during the lame-duck session of Congress,' GetEQUAL co-founder and director Robin McGehee said in a statement.

She was among those arrested.

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