OPEN THREAD: DADT Repeal Vote Moves Forward Today, At Least We Hope

Today is the day! The Senate will vote on the amendment to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell at 2:30 EST today (technically the vote is for amendments to a funding bill — the point is, Congress is really confusing).

Watch the livestream here:


Lady Gaga has been upping the intensity of the debate all week, what with her PSA and her #speechofmeat. Hopefully you Americans have been calling your senators and advocating for repeal like good little monsters. In fact, there is still time do that, if you want!

We will update this post all afternoon as new developments come in, so keep checking back! And as usual with our open threads/live blogs, read from the bottom up to get the everything in order.


3:01 p.m.: The vote to move forward to debate the amendments included on the defense bill has been denied. This means that, because there was an amendment that would let the president repeal DADT attached to this bill, 43 men and women in the U.S. Senate have voted to not even discuss it. Happy Tuesday, America! Way to go.

2:36 p.m.: Rachel Maddow will be on MSNBC at 3:00 p.m. to discuss the outcome of this vote. She will explain things to you and make you feel better / smarter / happier in your pants.

2:27 p.m.: Joe Lieberman is opposed to this filibuster and wants to eventually repeal DADT; is not stupid. John McCain repeats irrelevant words.

2:12 p.m.: Carl Levin (D-Michigan) wants to just ‘get to the bill.’ He makes the point that non-relevant amendments have been added to Defense Authorization Bills throughout history, and that actually the DADT amendment is somewhat (very) relevant to the bill in that it deals with the construction of the military. YES GOOD POINT, SIR.

1:36 p.m.: As an intrepid commenter has pointed out, we need to make a bigger distinction on the cloture issue here. The vote today will not repeal DADT, it will just get us a step closer to the process. This vote will allow amendments to the final funding bill. One of those amendments will repeal DADT, conditional on the military report of the issue due Dec. 1 and on effects to military readiness. Check out this article, which explains things more fully.

Thanks for the reminder on that distinction, JJ!

12:52 p.m.: The Washington Post has a good roundup of different news articles on the issue.

12:30 p.m.: With less than two hours to the vote, there isn’t much time left for debate or for switching sides. So how do things look for repeal right now? Not so great, maybe.

Alex Nicholson of the Servicemembers United told the Washington Blade that, as things stand right now, he doesn’t expect the vote to succeed.

“I haven’t seen anybody budge,” Nicholson said. “The Republican caucus is standing united and it’s still just a standoff.”

Still, this vote is just one step in the process, which Sen. Harry Reid has been quick to point out. The effort for repeal is not actually expected to wrap up until after the November elections.

Observers expect a close cloture vote, but the policy bill is almost certain to pass later this year if Democrats can break a Republican-led filibuster. Gay rights advocates also expect a repeal to remain part of the final House-Senate compromise bill, especially if a final vote is held after the Pentagon completes a study of how lifting the gay ban might affect troop readiness and morale. The study is due to President Obama by Dec. 1.

Republicans are generally upset that this vote is happening before the study is coming out. Sen. John McCain has threatened to filibuster the bill, and Democrats are unsure whether they have the 60 votes needed to override him. His reasoning for blocking the bill is the usual stuff about cohesion and timing:

McCain, a war hero and outspoken advocate for the armed forces, insists changing the policy now would hurt military readiness and unit cohesion in the middle of two ongoing wars. He and other Republicans want Congress to wait to consider a repeal until the Pentagon completes a review of the impact of changing the policy.

That’s all fine and good, except the current language of the repeal mean that “any change to the current policy would depend upon completion of the military study, expected by December, and certification from the Pentagon that military readiness would not be harmed.” And his argument falls apart.

At this point, McCain must know that he’s wrong, but by gosh, he’s gonna just filibuster it anyway. We think he has just gone off the rails and has stopped caring about doing the right thing.

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Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 127 articles for us.


  1. This is a really good round up of what cloture means and what is happening now on the vote.

    So, What’s Going To Really Happen With Today’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Vote?
    by DAVID BADASH on SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 · COMMENTS (2)

    There isn’t a vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today. Well, not exactly.

    And the word of the day is “cloture.”

    Here we go.

    First, you need to know that the bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is attached to a larger bill called the “National Defense Authorization Act,” a rather large spending and policy bill.

    What is being debated right this moment is whether or not other amendments will be allowed to be debated and voted upon. Because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had originally “locked” any possibility to add amendments to the bill, several GOP Senators whom we were hoping would help us overcome a filibuster threat by Senator John McCain, have decided to not vote for cloture.

    Ah, “cloture.” The Word Of The Day.

    Cloture: “a motion or process aimed at bringing debate to a quick end.” That’s all it means.

    Today, around 2:15 PM, the Senate will vote on cloture for the “National Defense Authorization Act,” including the Dream Act, and yes, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    What will happen is anyone’s guess.

    What we DO know is that the actual vote on the actual bill, including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will not take place until, probably, after the November midterm elections.

    You can watch the vote on cloture, and the debate leading up to it, on C-SPAN 2, and on, beginning now.

  2. I’m nervous about it, the opening comments seemed really tense. And McCain took the last 2 minutes of the comment time to emphasize once again his unjust stance.


  3. I’m in LA…so shouldn’t this be happening…rightthisminute? I don’t have TV right now, can someone tell me what’s going on?

  4. Senator McCain is a shame to himself and the Senate. He doesn’t care about what’s right. He just wants to stay in his seat as senator until he dies. I have no respect for him and am disgusted in the way he talks and acts. He makes me wanna puke.

  5. I honestly don’t understand how anyone thinks forcing servicemembers to lie to one another improves unit cohesion.

  6. Great live feed. Still keeping my fingers crossed. You tell ’em, Harry!

    For anyone that hasn’t done so, there’s still time to call your Senator and express your support for DADT repeal. Check out my plea (in verse) to that effect (including a musical tribute to Lady Gaga) and sign the petition at (Leave a comment to let me know what you think.)

  7. Wow and the republicans want to use the excuse that repealing this will bring down morale, well let me say F that, my morale is down big time today. Serving on active duty and having high hope that the votes would have gone the other way today really sucks. I mean its long past the time for DADT to no longer be in effect, the majority of the people that I serve with dont give a damn if im gay or not, dont get me wrong there are still the close minded people out there who think we have some kind of disease or something, but The fact is if I can do my job just as good if not better than the straight person next to me, then I shouldnt have to go to work everyday and constantly have to lie about who I am.

  8. Okay but really. I doubt I speak for myself when saying that I can’t take much more of this. It’s hard to feel too hopeful after the history of the way things run but I always find myself forcing hope into my day when this sort of thing is about to happen. Cause I want to believe that the people in power in this country don’t hate us. I really do. But dammit, reality really hits hard every time, doesn’t it.

    DADT Tuesday sucks.

  9. Hey all! First time commenter. Yay me! Anyway, I know this is totally off topic but has there been an article done about how to deal with falling in love with a straight girl? I’ve got the “falling in love with the straight girl” blues…:( Sorry, I repeat this is totally off topic, sorry!

  10. I was going to give it the “at least Glee is on!” try, but that doesn’t make it any better. If anything I’m more confused.

    I can’t wait until America sees us as actual human beings and not just some cute characters on a tv show.

  11. How can we offer benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees, but not servicemen/women? How is that even possible?

  12. Place the blame where it belongs… directly onto Reid’s idiotic bundling of the defense bill together with the DREAM Act and repealing DADT …which was actually quite intentional by design.

    Now Reid can just sit back and point his boney finger at the mean ol’ bigoted troop-hatin’ Republicans (along with the 2 Democrats) for its failure while whacking off to Sen. Gillibrand’s web page.

    Bravo, senator.

    • The blame belongs with the Republicans who filibustered it. It has always been the Republicans intention to filibuster any repeal of DADT. The purpose of attaching DADT repeal and the DREAM Act to the Defense Authorization bill was to make it politically harder for Republicans to filibuster repealing DADT.

      Attachments get added to the Defense Authorization EVERY YEAR. Reid has not done anything unusual or unprecedented. Heck the Hate Crimes Prevention Act that added sexual orientation and gender identity was passed as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act in 2009.

      The GOP keep yelling that the Democrats are doing controversial procedures, but this has always been the way the Senate operates. They’re lying. The Republican Senators just don’t want to repeal DADT because they don’t want to go back and tell their conservative base that they gave gay people rights.

      • Uh huh… keep telling yourself that while continuing to let Democrats off the hook.

        McCain made it quite clear that he would stifle any vote until the results of the recent DOD service-wide survey are released …which is supposed to happen sometime in December.

        What the civilian gay populace wants is of no consequence to the DOD.

        What matters is …will openly gay and lesbian servicemembers be accepted by the rank and file. You cannot force change onto those who do not wish it.

        I served for 8 years and knew the risks when I signed up.

        Not only did I have to hide my sexuality but as a woman I had to earn respect from the “old salts” who thought servicewomen were only good for typing and fetching coffee. I gained respect by never complaining about trivial insults or using my sex as an excuse to get out of undesirable duty like some other (straight) women often did.

        The same goes for current gay/lesbian servicemembers. They are slowly making progress in gaining respect from their peers …especially those serving in forward battle areas.

        To suddenly force troops to begin accepting gays & lesbians or else, would be a huge mistake IMO.

        They almost ruined it for servicewomen back in the 90’s with all those stupidly-PC mandatory sexual harassment workshops after the Tailhook scandal. Now they want to do it again with DADT.

        Yes, the policy is antiquated but my suggestion is we try and “work” for change rather than “demanding” change.

        Referring to opponents as bigots and homophobes and anointing silly celebrity spokespersons will get us nowhere.

        We need to hold EVERYONE accountable… Democrats as well as Republicans.

        • The DOD survey will say exactly what Secretary Gates wants it to say. Waiting for the survey is a coin toss. Troops are not even bothering to do the surveys because they know it doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter if they love gay people or hate gay people.

          The environment among the rank and file has already changed. What hasn’t changed is the top brass. And it’s not going to change until Congress gets some gonads and actually does what it’s supposed to do and LEAD the DOD instead of being pushed around by it. McCain wanting to wait to hear from the troops is nothing more than a delay tactic. The only people he’s listening to is his conservative base and his party.

          This isn’t about forcing them to accept gays and lesbians, but rather to leave gays alone and stop kicking them out. DADT was supposed to do that, but it is a failed policy.

          I don’t believe there will be some mass coming out when DADT is repealed. Most will probably still stay closeted, but it will be without the threat of being kicked out IF they are found to be gay.

          We have a civilian run military in the United States and the DOD needs to do what they are told to do. This isn’t Pakistan. Congress makes laws and the military follows it. Not the other way around.

          We have been *working* for change for *years*. And I totally agree that the celebrity spokesperson is not really that influential. She is on the kids, which will only make a difference 10 years from now. But as of today, the SLDN has been working on this for years already. We’ve had lawsuits in the justice system for a years. We have done the work. It’s just that no one has been paying attention because they’re too busy listening to pop stars.

          The way they integrated the military under Truman, it took 5 years AFTER the order to desegregate came down. And top brass didn’t want to do it then either. It never happens instantly, and it’s always somewhat forced. Change does not come without some force. But this isn’t even the same because a lot of the troops already are working with troops they know are gay, unlike with racial and gender segregation where they started with totally separate units.

          • It’s so refreshing to find someone who has a informed take on this issue.

            I still think it’s a mistake to make McCain/Republicans the sole targets while complacent democrats sit back and reap the benefits.

            McCain has always stated that he’s against the repeal of DADT. I really don’t think his opinion has anything to do with what the party base wants. He certainly didn’t care what the base thought when he tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform. I still think there’s hope for him to eventually come around.

            If Bono can could change Jesse Helm’s mind, then there’s certainly hope for McCain.

            I know plenty of conservatives, vets and non-vets alike, who are in support of DADT’s repeal …not to mention civil unions and/or gay marriage.

            If Prop 8 taught us one thing, it’s that there are still plenty of Democratic voters working against us.

  13. Would it make y’all feel better if I tell you a joke? Ok, here goes.
    How does Lady Gaga like her meat? Raw raw raw raw raw raw!

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