The appointment of Carte Goodwin to
fill the vacancy created by the death of the late Senator Robert C.
Byrd has added uncertainty to the prospects of repealing “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell.”
Goodwin was appointed by West Virginia
Governor Joe Manchin on Friday and is expected to be sworn in on
During his 51 years in the Senate, Byrd
slowly renounced his objections to gay rights, going from supporting
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law that forbids gay troops from
serving openly, and opposing gay marriage in the 90's to backing a
measure that repeals the military's gay ban.
Byrd cast a critical vote in the Senate
Armed Services Committee that attached repeal language to the 2011
defense budget. And gay rights groups were counting on Byrd to help
secure passage in the full Senate.
Goodwin will now cast that vote and his
position on repeal of the law, or gay rights, is unknown.
Gay groups contacted by On Top
Magazine said they knew little about the West Virginia lawyer who
once served as Governor Manchin's chief counsel.
The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a
group that promotes openly gay elected officials, did not know where
Goodwin stood on gay rights. And the Human Rights Campaign (HRC),
the nation's largest gay rights advocate, has yet to issue a
The Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network (SLDN), the nation's largest group working for repeal, said
it looked forward to working with Goodwin. But in an email to On
Top Magazine, the group clearly was uncertain whether Goodwin's
appointment was good or bad news for supporters of repeal.
“SLDN looks forward to working
closely with Mr. Goodwin and we remain hopeful that the new senator
from West Virginia will follow Senator Byrd's lead on the repeal of
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' by working closely with Chairman Levin as the
DOD bill moves to the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Trevor Thomas, an
SLDN spokesman, said.
Goodwin, 36, is married to his wife
Rochelle, and the couple has one child, Wes.
Republicans opposed to repeal, led by
Arizona Senator John McCain, have already said they'll mount a
vigorous defense in the Senate.