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"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Vote Expected This Week

By Joseph Erbentraut in News on May 26, 2010 7:40PM

Earlier this week, the White House announced its support of a two-step compromise approach toward repealing the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy toward openly gay servicemen and women. The issue will likely come to vote before the House and Senate this week. The plan works like this: The House and Senate will vote on repealing the policy via an amendment to the defense authorization bill as early as this afternoon. If passed, the repeal will not officially take effect until the Pentagon's study of the repeal's implementation is completed in December. From there, President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen approve the repeal based on that study's findings. All have previously expressed support for repeal.

Advocates on both sides of the issue were galvanized with the White House's announcement. Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who repeal author Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) had hoped would cross party lines to support the amendment, spoke against the announcement in a statement. "This so-called compromise would repeal the legislation first then receive input from the military," Graham said. "This is not the proper way to change any policy, particularly something as controversial as Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Earlier today, proponents of repeal gained one important nod of support from conservative Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) who applauded the compromise for "removing politics from the process." He described the law's repeal as "the right thing to do." Lieberman is confident he will sway enough other lawmakers to pass repeal.

Meanwhile, many LGBT activists remain frustrated with the Obama administration's proposed compromise. Kip Williams, a co-founder of direct action group GetEQUAL, was arrested when he heckled Obama at a Barbara Boxer fundraiser in California Tuesday evening. Williams yelled out, "Move faster on 'don't ask don't tell," to which Obama responded with a little heckling of his own.

Openly gay, Iraq vetaran Lt. Dan Choi also is not celebrating the compromise and wrote a scathing Newsweek op-ed Wednesday:

"This week, regardless of the outcome in Congress, there will be no cause for celebration. As long as soldiers must compromise their honor, I will not celebrate. I will only celebrate when the service of those gay and lesbian Americans serving in uniform is honored."

Polls estimate that somewhere between 57 and 75 percent of American voters support the repeal of the military's gay ban.