Senate Republicans on Thursday
successfully blocked a key vote on repealing “Don't Ask, Don't
The Senate's GOP caucus, with the
exception of Maine Senator Susan Collins, united to filibuster the
National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment to
end the law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.
Moderate Republicans who had signaled
they might cross the aisle – including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska,
Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine – did not
follow Collins' lead.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group
lobbying for repeal, called the 57-40 vote an “outrage.”
“Today a band of Senators voted to
continue the discrimination against gay and lesbian service members
who are fighting and dying for our country,” Aubrey Sarvis said in
a statement. “This continued delay is an outrage against these
service members and the more than 14,000 who have already lost their
jobs under this discriminatory law.”
“History will hold these senators
accountable and so will many of their constituents,” he added.
“There will be no place for Senators to hide.”
Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat
from Arkansas who voted against repeal in September, arrived late for
the vote, but told reporters, “Had I been here I would have voted
on Wednesday threatened to filibuster the measure unless Reid allowed
for greater freedom to choose amendments and up to 34 hours of debate
on the bill.
“It's clear that Republicans don't
want to hold a vote on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” Reid said. “They
want to block a bill on this at all costs, even if it means not
passing the defense authorization bill for the first time in 48
After the vote, Alex Nicholson,
executive director of Servicemembers United, called on Congress to
approve repeal of the law as a stand-alone bill.
“Since the votes are there in
isolation, the Senate should still consider a stand-alone bill to
repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law before adjourning for the
winter holidays,” he said in a statement.