Senate Owes it to Military to Bring up Defense Bill by Year End
Clock is ticking but time remains for action on repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Washington– The U.S. Senate owes it to the military to bring up and pass the National Defense Authorization Act along with repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before year’s end, today said the Human Rights Campaign – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
“While some Senators will stop at nothing to put up procedural roadblocks, there remains time before the end of the year to strengthen our military by passing the defense bill with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal attached,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “The votes are there to allow for open service and now the only question is whether the political will also exists.”
Earlier today Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said he believed the Senate should stay in session in order to finish work on the defense bill. In fact his spokesperson said: “Wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pass a bill that provides essential support for our troops and veterans and failing to take action that the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for.”
“Senators of both parties need to ask themselves what excuses really matter if they believe that DADT has harmed our military and that repeal will not cause significant strains on the force,” said Solmonese.
In recent weeks, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as well as Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen have repeatedly expressed their desire that Congress act on DADT repeal before the end of this congressional session.
“A failure of Congress to act now will tie the hands of military leaders who have asked for the power to implement a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” added Solmonese. “The time for repeal is now.”
HRC field staffers remain in targeted states encouraging grassroots pressure on key Senators. This week, HRC will launch an action alert to its members and supporters, adding to the 11.5 million take action e-mails sent on this issue, which generated over 550,000 e-mails urging repeal to members of Congress. HRC has also gathered nearly 50,000 pro-repeal handwritten communications to Congress and conducted more than 1,000 grassroots lobby visits. The organization is also engaged in an aggressive letters to the editor campaign and facilitating calls from veteran supporters of repeal direct to Senate offices.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.