The U.S. Senate couldn’t find the 60 votes it needed today to open debate on a defense authorization bill that includes an amendment to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gay and lesbian servicemembers, the Washington Post reports.
The vote on the cloture motion was 56-43. No Republican senator voted for cloture; Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP against cloture, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did so as well as a parliamentary tactic so he can bring a cloture motion back to the floor later. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, didn’t vote.
Republicans faulted Reid for blocking other amendments to the defense authorization bill.
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said today on the Senate floor that the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is hurting our military and costing our nation.
“Fourteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It has cost taxpayers about $290 million at least, maybe up to half a billion dollars to replace soldiers who were discharged under this policy,” she said. “And I know many Americans have seen in their living rooms, coming on the TV, men and women who are our neighbors’ kids and our neighbors who have been kicked out of the military even though they were stellar – stellar – servicemen and women.”
Most of our military allies allow gays and lesbians to serve in their military without discrimination, Boxer said.
“And so for us to stand with Iran, for us to stand with Cuba, for us to stand with North Korea, Pakistan and Turkey over Australia, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Germany, etc., it just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “And the point is, because we’re part of this coalition of 22 other nations (with troops in Afghanistan), our fighting men and women are already fighting side-by-side with those who may well be gays and lesbians.”
Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina has said she supports repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if military leaders say that’s the right thing to do; at a meeting with veterans in Oakland in February, she said it seems a shame that patriots can’t serve without lying about who they are, especially in time of war.
“As Carly has stated on the campaign trail, she very much supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and looks forward to the pending review of the policy by the military’s top officials, but she thinks it is extremely disappointing that career politician Barbara Boxer and her fellow Democrats keep playing election year politics with such important military issues,” Fiorina spokeswoman Andrea Saul said this afternoon. “Instead of maneuvering to try and save the only job she cares about – her own – Barbara Boxer should actually work to represent the people of California in a forthright way, which is exactly why Carly Fiorina wants to go to Washington and stop the politics of old.”
Lots of outrage from gay-rights advocates, after the jump…
From American Foundation for Equal Rights board president Chad Griffin:
“Our Constitution requires that every American is treated equally under the law and by our government. It is shameful that Congress did not act accordingly. Still, given the attention paid to this debate, as well as the recent federal court decisions regarding Prop. 8 and DOMA, I am hopeful that we are growing closer to meeting the promise of equality upon which our nation was founded.”
From National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendell:
From Jon Soltz, chairman of the progressive veterans’ group VoteVets.org:
“It is bordering on criminal that Republicans blocked funding for our troops because of politics. Over 70 percent of our men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are personally fine with service members being able to openly serve. So, Senator McCain and the Republicans can save all their bluster about their vote being to protect the military. Today’s military is strong enough and mature enough to handle a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. What our military cannot handle is more discharges of some of our finest men and women – many of them serving in critical positions such as translators – because of a backwards policy. Our military men and women are worse off because of the Republican filibuster of this defense spending bill.”
From Courage Campaign chairman and founder Rick Jacobs:
“Today a small minority of ‘conservative’ U.S. Senators put partisan politics ahead of the lives and careers of our military men and women by blocking consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation includes a repeal of the military’s failed ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy, funding for our nation’s military, including those in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and incentives for military service and academic achievement in the DREAM Act.
“Three quarters of Americans support elimination of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because it is unconstitutional, un-American, and un-safe. We had a vote today because millions of Americans made their voices heard, and we will continue to keep the pressure on until this policy is relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs. This is not a matter of right and left, it’s about right and wrong.
“The disappointing message that Senate Republicans and the extremists vying to join them in November delivered today is that supporting our troops — like creating jobs, cutting taxes for the middle class and building a 21st century workforce — are simply NOT priorities in their America.
“That’s why we are also joining the Human Rights Campaign in calling on the Department of Justice to recognize the injustice of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and honor the service of these soldiers by not filing an appeal of the September 9th ruling by a federal judge that found this policy to be unconstitutional. We applaud the Log Cabin Republicans for initiating this case and we hope the Justice Department recognizes that it’s time to consign this discriminatory law to the dustbin of history.”
From National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey:
“Once again, politicians are playing politics with people’s lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and the DREAM Act — two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness — is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today’s Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed.”