Promised fall hearings on repeal of the
military's ban on open gay service in Congress are likely tabled for
now, TheHill.com reported Saturday.
Both chambers of Congress have likely
delayed hearings on the issue.
Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat from
Michigan, said in a C-SPAN Newsmaker interview to be broadcast
Sunday that the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs,
will postpone hearings till sometime next year to concentrate on
investigating the Fort Hood shootings.
The policy, also known as “don't ask,
don't tell,” is the 1993 law that prohibits gay and lesbian service
members from revealing their sexuality at the risk of losing their
President Obama promised gay activists
attending an October fundraiser that he would end the policy.
“I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,'”
Obama said. “That is my commitment to you.”
“This time is not being lost,”
Levin said referring to the current thinking that lawmakers will not
attempt to pass a freestanding bill but are more likely to tuck
repeal legislation into next year's military spending bill. That
strategy was used earlier this year to approve a bill that added
sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federal hate
crimes that includes race, national origin, gender and religion.
Openly gay Massachusetts Congressman
Barney Frank was the first to mention the strategy, telling gay
glossy the Advocate: “Military issues are always done as
part of the overall authorization bill. 'Don't ask, don't tell' was
always going to be part of the military authorization.”
Legislation to repeal the law was
introduced in the House in March by California Representative Ellen
Tauscher, who has since been replaced by John Garamendi after she was
tapped by President Obama to serve as Under Secretary of State for
Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Since then,
Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran, has
championed the bill. An official bill has yet to be introduced in
the Senate, but Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman is widely
expected to sponsor such a bill.
The House Armed Services Committee
considering the House version of the bill has also promised a series
of hearings on the issue. But the NavyTimes.com reported Saturday
that the Senate decision to postpone will likely delay action in the
committee as well.