New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is
considering backing a senate amendment that would pause military
discharges based on sexual orientation, Jason Bellini reported on The
Gillibrand, the freshman senator
appointed by Governor David Paterson after President Obama tapped
Hillary Clinton to head the State Department, has signaled she will
likely introduce the reform on Tuesday as an amendment to a Defense
Department reauthorization bill.
The amendment would place an 18-month
moratorium on the military gay ban, also known as “don't ask, don't
tell,” the law that prescribes discharge for gay and lesbian
service members who do not remain celibate or closeted.
The decision to introduce the amendment
is not final, Bellini reported.
“Senator Gillibrand is working with
Senator Kennedy's office to garner support for a repeal of 'don't
ask, don't tell,' and this is a part of an ongoing effort to repeal
this policy,” Bethany Lesser, a Gillibrand spokeswoman, told the
(It was widely believed that
Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy would introduce the legislation in
the Senate, and may still.)
“The Senate Democratic caucus, now
sixty members strong, should eagerly get behind this amendment,”
said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal
Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal, in a statement.
“Moderate and responsible Republicans and Independents can and
should support it.”
Last week, Pennsylvania Representative
Patrick Murphy took over as sponsor of repeal legislation in the
House from outgoing California Representative Ellen Tauscher, who is
also headed to the State Department.
Murphy told the Stars and Stripes
that he wants to repeal the law as soon as possible, with or without
the help of the president.
“I don't work for the president,”
Murphy, who is an Iraq war veteran, said. “We don't need to wait.”
Such lucid messages in favor of repeal
arrive as the president is being called all mouth and no trousers on
the policy. Candidate Obama was a strong supporter of repeal, but as
president he's offered a more muddled message. In the time that
Obama has been in office, he has officially said he believes the
policy should be reversed and has insisted officials are involved in
active discussions on how best to do that. But even as he pledged
action and promised change, the administration fired nearly 300 gay
and lesbian soldiers, and Obama has refused to sign an executive
order that would end discharges as Congress reviews the policy,
saying he was looking for a “durable” solution from Congress.
The administration's toing and froing
on “don't ask, don't tell” is often used to highlight the
president's hesitancy to act on gay rights.
During a speech to gay leaders at the
White House last month, the president reiterated that he was
committed to gay and lesbian rights, including repeal of the Defense
of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal gay marriage ban, and the
military ban on open gay service. And then, he asked the gay
community to be patient.
Obama's go slow strategy has divided
the gay community between those who believe the president is
committed to gay rights but is forced to walk a tightrope on social
issues, and those who say he's thrown the LGBT community under the
bus, a reference used to describe President Bill Clinton's abysmal
record on gay rights.
Congressional action on the policy then
would put the ball back in the president's court.