There were a couple of scares this week - signs that maybe the lame duck session of Congress wouldn't be considering language in the Defense Authorization bill that would allow for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. According to the Washington Post:
Three groups that support lifting the ban - the Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, OutServe and Knights Out - said Monday that lawmakers should pass the defense bill whether or not it includes language ending "don't ask, don't tell."
Then, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin confirmed what had previously been rumored - that he was considering stripping the language that would allow for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell out of the measure.
All signs seemed to point to a big disappointment in the works. But on Wednesday, spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House attempted to reassure advocates for open service. President Obama reportedly called Sen. Levin, and asked that the language not be removed from the Defense Authorization bill. And Senator Reid said instead of dropping the DADT language, what will be dropped is the DREAM Act - an amendment which would give conditional permanent residency to undocumented students - if they complete two years in the military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning. The Advocate reports that concerns about "poison pill" or "message" amendments won't be as big, now that election season is over:
“If the sticking point is that the Republicans want an opportunity to offer amendments and they feel like they weren’t given that opportunity before the election, I have no problem with a more open amendment process,” Colorado senator Mark Udall, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Advocate earlier this week.
Udall added that there might be less fear of amendments merely being used as political weapons now that the midterm election is over.
“There were concerns on both sides that there would be message amendments and amendments to make one party or the other look bad because the election was looming,” he said. “It seems like we could move beyond that and we could really focus on policy debates.”
As we get closer to a potential vote, we urge the media to continue to highlight the stories of men and women who are denied the chance to serve their country simply because of who they are. We also encourage the media to continue to highlight the fact that Americans overwhelmingly support lifting the ban on gay and lesbian troops serving openly.