Republican senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she would vote to lift
the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, as a
possible vote to repeal the 17-year-old law draws closer. Advocate.com: Daily News
Yesterday Anchorage newscaster Matthew Felling spoke with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) about her position on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and got this stunning response. Does this signal renewed will among fair-minded Republicans to take back their party from radical-right Christians and tea party insurgents? Does Sen. Murkowski represent a turning-point in Republican willingness to get behind a DADT repeal vote that the majority of Republican voters support?
Sen. Murkowski was recently re-elected by write-in votes, beating a Sarah Palin-endorsed tea party candidate.
Matthew Felling – The fact that you’ve been waiting to hear from them, and they have said — at least according to the polls out there — they’re okay with it. Procedural things notwithstanding, are you more likely to vote for a bill saying “I hear them. And if they’re alright with it, I’m alright with it?”
Sen. Murkowski – And I have said that I would work to make sure that as long as it is supported by the troops, as long as it doesn’t hurt the performance or the morale, or the recruitment — these are all things we have to take into consideration — I think we will see that play out in this report. If in fact don’t ask don’t tell is included in the Defense Authorization Act and we get to the point where we can move that bill through – I would not oppose the defense authorization bill because the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal of it is included in it. I have made the statement to others, that we’re in a different point in time. There is, more clearly, a level of acceptance in our communities at all levels of supporting and providing for that level of equality to the homoesexual community. And I think that’s important to recognize that.
It’s been five days on the ground here in Alaska and the excitement about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the lame duck session this year is growing. We’ve had hundreds of Alaskans take action to urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense appropriations bill which also contains repeal language.
Not only have we been successful with mobilizing the grassroots to take action, but I have been meeting with leaders of the LGBT and larger progressive communities, as well as reasonable voices within the Republican Party to mobilize support from a “grasstops” perspective. We’ve also identified dozens of veterans who are supportive of repeal in the state who are taking action by calling and writing to Sen. Murkowski, and submitting letters to the editor of their local newspaper.
Here in Alaska, especially during the winter when it’s cold and dark much of the day, you have to go where the people are in order to get the job done. So whether that meant catching people to take action at a Rocky Horror Picture Show or grabbing students at the University of Alaska – Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University to make phone calls, that’s what we did.
It’s been long days and we’ve come so far, but the journey toward open service is not yet complete. If you’d like to help carry the torch in Alaska, please contact me at Tony.Wagner@hrc.org.