U.S. Senate Votes for Repeal; On to The President

Moments ago, the Senate voted 65-31 on final passage of the bill that will initiate the repeal the 17 year old law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marking the beginning of the end for this outdated and discriminatory law. Joining nearly every Democrat in this historic vote, 7 Republicans stood on right side of history in voting to strengthen our military, and affirming that sexual orientation does not affect one’s ability to serve their nation.

The bill now goes to President Obama, and once being signed into law, the process of implementing repeal can begin.

“America made history today. After 17 years of this failed and discriminatory law, gay and lesbian service members will soon be able to serve with the full honor and integrity the uniform demands.  No longer will patriots be forced to lie in order to serve the country they love and are willing to die for,“ said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “This vote by the United States Senate will have extremely positive ripple effects well beyond ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Our government has sent a powerful message that discrimination, on any level, should not be tolerated. “

So many people have made this work possible, from volunteers and organizers deployed across the U.S., Advocates in Washington and in the states, outspoken veterans and service members and the countless supporters that called, emailed, made visits to lawmakers and used online tools to get the word out about repeal.  For a summary of HRC’s work on repeal, click here.

All of us here at the Human Rights Campaign want to thank everyone for all that you have done.

Today’s vote caps off two weeks of frenetic, roller-coaster activity. Last week, the Senate voted for the second time against allowing debate to begin on the National Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. As a result, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a stand-alone repeal bill in the Senate. This Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a DADT bill sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA). That bill was advanced to the Senate and voted on today; this afternoon’s historic victory followed a successful 63-33 vote to end debate this morning.

While the immediate impact of this bill may inspire folks from across the nation, it is important to note that full implementation has yet to take place, and that it is not yet safe for service members to disclose their sexual orientation.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Saturday DADT Open Thread: Senate votes no on DREAM, yes on DADT. Next steps…

NOTE: New Blend content is below this post, which will be on top during proceedings today.

The Senate started the session at 9am this morning; you can watch the live feed here. Currently Jeff Sessions, the first the speak today, is arguing against the DREAM Act.


NOTE FROM PAM: You can also join the live chat hosted by Joe Sudbay of Americablog that is up top now as well.

11:30 AM ET: Cloture motion on the DREAM Act falls, 55-41. 60 needed. NC’s Kay Hagan voted NO on DREAM Act.

11:45: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell passes major Senate vote. On to the vote for repeal. Then the Prez and Mullen and Gates have to sign off.

A reminder from SLDN:



? Even after a successful U.S. Senate vote and after the President signs the bill, service members will remain at risk for investigation and discharge. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law until 60 days after the Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify repeal can happen. Read SLDN’s warnings to service members: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.


? The President would transmit to the congressional Armed Services Committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating each of the following:

o (A) That the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

o (B) That the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f).

o (C) That the implementation of necessary policies and regulations pursuant to the discretion provided by the amendments made by subsection (f) is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

? “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will still be the law at this point. Service members will still be discharged. Read SLDN’s warnings: www.sldn.org/StillAtRisk.


? After the President transmits written certification to the congressional Armed Services Committees, full repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be effective 60 days later.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Breaking: Reid files cloture on DADT and DREAM Act; votes scheduled for Sat.

Movement on DADT repeal is in the air and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not long ago filed cloture on the stand-alone DADT repeal bill passed on Wednesday by the House and the DREAM Act. The cloture vote will be held on Saturday.

For those who need a bit of a primer on this, cue this helpful explanation from John @ Americablog:

Filing for cloture is how you cut off a filibuster. Basically, you file a petition for cloture, you wait two days for it to “ripen,” then you vote on it. If you get 60 votes, cloture is invoked and the legislation can be considered for no more than 30 additional hours, when you have to have a final vote. Thus when you vote for cloture, you vote against a filibuster.

Let’s go to the videotape of Harry Reid (via The Wonk Room and Igor Volsky):

REID: I’m going to file cloture tonight on the DREAM Act, we’re going to have a vote on that Saturday morning fairly early. We’re going to have a cloture vote tonight on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell- oh, not a cloture vote, I’m going to file cloture on it tonight. Those will be sequenced for Saturday, whenever we get to them. Following that, I was told by a number of Republican Senators that they need 6 or 7 days to offer amendment on the START treaty.

UPDATE: Reactions…

Servicemembers United:

“We are grateful to Majority Leader Reid for following through on his promise to schedule a vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session, and we are relieved that he has now committed to doing so well before Christmas. It would have severely threatened all of the momentum that repeal has gained recently if this vote was delayed until after the holidays,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center:

“As Senators consider the forthcoming vote on the stand-alone ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal bill, what matters most is the reality that prejudice is the only justification left for a vote against repeal. The Pentagon’s own research supplements more than twenty studies that show allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly does not undermine military readiness, and that fears about hypothetical problems are groundless. Those who reject prejudice will vote to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and those who embrace prejudice will vote to continue this policy.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Hoyer: Senate Has Repeal Votes

STENY HOYER X390Echoing what Sen. Joe Lieberman has been saying for weeks, Sen. Steny
Hoyer said Wednesday the Senate has the votes to pass a stand alone
“don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal bill. Rep. Barney Frank agreed in a
statement of his own Thursday.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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House votes today on standalone DADT bill. There are still ‘minefields’ in the Senate remains the hurdl

The House will vote on the standalone DADT bill today. It should pass, but House members still need to hear from us. The switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

After passage, the bill will be sent as a “message” to the Senate, thereby avoiding an initial filibuster. The Senate can immediately begin debate on the legislation, although when that debate actually starts is unclear. We will need 60 votes to end the debate.

So, while the action is in the House today, all eyes are on the Senate. There was a lot swirling around yesterday. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson was on the Hill getting the latest:

Winnie Stachelberg, vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, also said she believes there’s a chance the bill will pass before Congress is out of session.

“Having a chance is all that you need,” she said. “And you need the pieces to fall into place and the commitment of those on the Hill and the White House to get it done. People really need to lean into this to get it done.”

Good lord. Having a chance is all we need? Really, Winnie. Actually, we need 60 votes. Anytime I read a quote from Winnie Stachelberg, I worry. She’s been one of the masterminds behind the DADT repeal strategy all year. Now, she wants the White House “to lean into this.” Winnie is very close to the White House — and she went along with the original plan to push back a vote until after the Pentagon survey was completed. We needed the White House to lean in back in 2009 and early 2010. I still don’t understand why Winnie is so influential in this process, but we’ll discuss that — and the failings of other parties — in the weeks to come. Today, we’ve got to focus on the task at hand. Because while things look better, this is not a done deal at all.

On the GOP side, not everyone is so optimistic:

But a Senate Republican aide, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, was more cautious and said passage depends “on so many variables.”

“I think if the omnibus, the continuing resolution, all that stuff stretches past Thursday night, Friday, then it gets real difficult,” the aide said. “Those things are already set in motion. It could happen, but there’s just a lot of minefields.”

Yes, there are a lot of minefields. And, the mines are being laid by John McCain and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sam Stein encapsulated the Senate battle ahead:

In the Senate, there are currently myriad scenarios under which a standalone repeal could either pass or fail. But several sources — both Republican and Democrat, on the Hill and off — conveyed the sense that the bill’s fate rests on two main questions: Whether McCain, who has spearheaded the opposition to repeal, will be able to delay or torpedo the measure through amendments, and whether Obama will dive into the trenches to help Senate Democratic leadership corral the votes for passage.

We know that McCain is willing to use all the tricks at his disposal. We still don’t know that Obama will dive into the trenches. He hasn’t yet.


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This is the face of 40 unprincipled votes

In a just-issued press release, the group whose Family Research involves calling for the deportation and/or criminalization of gays praise Senators like John “Maverick” McCain and Jim “Let’s Fire Gay Teachers” Inhofe for obstructing what they refer to as an “insistent liberal social agenda,” even as a vast majority of the American public calls it basic, benign fairness:

Screen Shot 2010-12-09 At 4.40.31 Pm-1

Somewhere in the world right now, a gay solider is serving in horrid conditions, burdened with a millions fears. Today, the U.S. Senate could have removed one of them. Instead, they emboldened anti-gay fears.

Good As You

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Senate Votes 57-40 To Keep Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Is Alive And Well. So How About A Separate Vote?

In a 57-40 vote, the Senate failed to reach the necessary 60 votes move to block Republican opposition to debate (and vote on) the National Defense Authorization Act (aka the Pentagon's spending bill), which had DADT repeal language attached. Democrats will point the fingers at Republicans (but not Susan Collins, who voted for the bill). Republicans will point the fingers at Democrats (but not Joe Manchin, who voted against it) for not giving them enough time for open debate. And then everyone will say it's Harry Reid's fault. And also the Human Rights Campaign, because that Joe Solmonese promised you! But here's something interesting: Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins are telling the media right now they'll hold a separate, standalone vote on repeal that won't be attached to the NDAA. You know, because the sixty votes are there, but not here. It's like whack-a-mole, but with people's lives.

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Pro-repeal Senators say they’ve got 60 votes for DADT, including several GOPers

The lame duck session represents so many hurdles, so little time, but there is this.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, said Thursday that he and other opponents of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members had secured the votes to authorize its repeal — provided that Senate leaders allow a free-flowing debate on the wider military policy bill that includes the repeal.

At the press conference, Lieberman mentioned GOP Senators Collins and Lugar are prepared to vote for the Defense bill. And I got a big chuckle out of this.

“The movement to end the injustice of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is alive and well and we are going to keep fighting — in the spirit of the American military — until we get the job done,” he said. “And we will get the job done.”

Mr. Lieberman conceded, however, that he had made no progress in persuading Mr. McCain, a close friend of his, to withdraw his opposition.

That is just too cute by half. I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching “Joementum” (snark) try to bargain with his pal “Walnuts” (no snark) to get him to come over to the side of equality.

UPDATE from Joe: Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports that Nevada activists have been told Senator John Ensign wants DADT repealed and is prepared to vote for cloture on the Defense bill after the Pentagon’s study is released. Via Igor Volsky, according to an Alaska reporter, that state’s newly reelected Senator, Lisa Murkowski “said that she would ‘not vote against a bill that had that repeal in it.'” Murkowski has been back and forth on this issue over the past couple days. So, this thing is fluid. It’s all about timing and process now.

The key thing to remember is this paragraph from the NY Times article, to which Tim linked:

Leaders of the new House Republican majority have indicated that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a priority for them, making it unlikely they would approve the bill again. That means if the repeal language is not approved by the end of this year, it will be effectively dead.


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Joe Lieberman: We’ve Got 60 Repeal Votes in The Bag, Yo

I am confident that we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the defense authorization with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ if only there will be a guarantee of a fair and open amendment process, in other words, whether we’ll take enough time to do it.

—Sen. Joe Lieberman, taking the mic with 13 Senate Democrats by his side, insisting there are enough votes to push through a DADT repeal whether McCain likes it or not. The trick to bring on Republican support? Having Harry Reid grant them enough time to bitch, which will be hard given the Senate's tight lame duck schedule. (Something about taxes?)

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President tells Log Cabin to get him 2 to 5 votes for DADT vote, refuses to say if DADT is unconstitutional

I just posted Joe’s report on his meeting with the President. No point in repeating it here. Go over to the main site and check it out.


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