Today’s Senate vote blocked the Defense Programs bill that included, among other things, a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Although 57 senators voted in favor, 60 were needed to move the bill forward. Several crucial Republican senators who had previously pledged or implied their support of a repeal, including Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, instead voted against the repeal, sealing the fate of thousands of American servicemembers.
You can read the responses of nationwide gay organizations and news outlets in Pam’s House Blend’s roundup. We find GetEqual’s statement particularly pertinent.
We all laid everything we could on the line for this bill — a piece of legislation that would have repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We all know that gay and lesbian Americans are just as patriotic and capable as straight Americans — but dysfunctional Senate processes, a homophobic Republican Party, and a spineless Democratic Party got in the way of equality once again.
Let us be clear — this wasn’t the bill we wanted. This compromised piece of legislation was far from the ideal — it would have left our transgender sisters and brothers behind, it kicked actual repeal to some undefined date later down the road, and it said nothing about how to deal with lesbian or gay enlistees who have partners who must remain second-class citizens because their lives are still ruled by the Defense of Marriage Act.
And even this compromised piece of legislation didn’t pass.
We are sorry for our servicemembers, and ashamed of our government.
UPDATE: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced a stand-alone bill that is intended to “provide for a repeal of the Department of Defense policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The full text of the bill can be read here. It still needs enough cloture votes to override a filibuster, and would still need to be passed before the Senate adjourns for the end of the year. Senator Harry Reid has promised to expedite the bill, but Congress is also set to adjourn on December 17th. We will, of course, keep you posted on new developments.