Ben Nelson backs 'don't ask' compromise
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Wednesday that he will vote to support the compromise legislation that repeals the military's ban on gay service members.
The moderate Democrat's support appears to give proponents the 15 of 28 committee votes they say they need to add the repeal as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill.
“I don’t believe that most Nebraskans want to continue a policy that not only encourages but requires people to be deceptive and to lie," Nelson said, adding later that the current ban "encourages suspicion and senior officers to look the other way. In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy encourages deceit."
Nelson said he will back the compromise advanced by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.) because it bases implementation of a repeal on the Pentagon's ongoing review. The three lawmakers scored a White House endorsement for their plan on Monday.
"We are increasingly confident about the Lieberman compromise and that this could very well be a historic week in the United States Congress," said Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann.
Gay rights groups thanked Nelson for his support but cautioned that the vote count could change hour by hour. Ben Nelson joins Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), three other senators who were awaiting guidance from the White House before making a decision. Two others, James Webb (D-Va.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), plan to vote against repeal.
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