The odds that Congress will repeal the
1993 law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly are
tumbling fast in the wake of GOP gains in both chambers of Congress.
Even before Congress opens its
lame-duck session, the drive to repeal the law this year appears to
be losing steam, analysts and political watchers say.
It is “extremely unrealistic” that
Congress will take up repeal this year, Richard Socarides, a former
adviser on gay rights to President Bill Clinton, told the Wall
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
agreed with the sentiment. “I would like to see the repeal of
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that
are,” Gates told reporters in Australia, where he's attending a
series of defense and diplomatic meetings.
is also reporting that the highest-ranking members of their
respective parties in the Senate Armed Services Committee –
Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona
– are in talks on stripping the repeal amendment from the defense
With Republicans taking over the House
in January, and increasing their numbers in the Senate, supporters of
repeal are urging lawmakers to take up the bill before the new
members take their seats.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), warned that stripping
the defense bill would be “unacceptable.”
“If the President, Majority Leader
[Harry] Reid, Secretary Gates, and a handful of Republican senators
are committed to passing the comprehensive bill, there is ample time
to do so,” the leader of the nation's largest group lobbying for
repeal said. “Any talk about a watered down defense bill, whereby
the 'Don't Ask' revisions would be stripped out, is unacceptable and
offensive to the gay and lesbian service members who risk their lives
President Obama has previously said he
would end the policy on his watch, but the window of opportunity in
the short term appears to be closing.
GOP group the Log Cabin Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to
reinstate a lower court's injunction prohibiting the military from
enforcing the policy as a government appeal wends its way through the
courts. Justice Anthony Kennedy has asked the federal government
to weigh in on the case before Wednesday.
Congress is also unlikely to debate
other gay rights measures already on the back burner, including
repeal of the federal gay marriage ban, the Defense of Marriage Act
(DOMA), and a federal workplace anti-discrimination bill that
includes sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender
protections), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).