In a Senate vote that was devoid of a single Republican supporter, a bid to open debate on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the controversial military policy preventing openly LGBT men and women from serving in the armed forces, was struck down. A terrible blow to the crusade for equal civil rights, a bipartisan group of senators have pledged to bring the issue up again before the coming recess in a separate piece of legislation. But it may well not be enough as the break looms.
Activists have since planned a rally near the Capitol building at noon today to appeal to lawmakers to put a hold on the recess, to work through the winter break, to come to agreement and get the repeal completed. "The Senate and the president must remain in session and in Washington to find another path for repeal to get done in the lame-duck," a group called the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announced.
"Today leaders of both parties let down the U.S. military and the American people," said Joe Solmonese, the figurehead for the crusading civil rights group Human Rights Campaign. He lambasted the vote, calling the senators guilty of "...shameful schoolyard spats that put petty partisan politics above the needs of our women and men in uniform." He went on to express a need to continue fighting even in the coming lame-duck session, saying that the fight was "not over."
Even President Obama, who had been curiously quiet on the issue which seemed of convicted importance during his presidential campaign, finally spoke out after the vote, calling the outcome "disappointing," and saying the discriminatory policy "weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality."
With the court system finding the policy fundamentally unconstitutional, public and military leadership support for the repeal at an all-time high, and the release of a military study demonstrating the overall acceptance of LGBT service-members amongst soldiers, it seems odd that the policy is having such a difficult time getting proper senatorial consideration. Some, including Mr. Solmonese, have called upon the President to issue an executive stop-loss to prevent any military discharges under the policy until repeal can be enacted.