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'Don't ask, don't tell' vote fails: Reaction

By Ed O'Keefe

Highlights of the reaction from across the political spectrum to Tuesday's failed attempt to move forward with efforts to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (Reaction appears below in the order it arrived in The Federal Eye's inbox):

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a pro-repeal group:

"Today's Senate vote was a frustrating blow to repeal this horrible law. We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. Let's be clear: Opponents to repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' did not have the votes to strike those provisions from the bill. Instead, they had the votes for delay. Time is the enemy here. We now have no choice but to look to the lame duck session where we'll have a slim shot. The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will continue to take this fight to the American people, the vast majority of whom support repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign:

"This filibuster was election year politics at its worst. It's a shame that during a time of war, Republican Senators wouldn't even allow debate on the bill that provides a pay raise for our troops." (The group sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it not to appeal a recent federal court decision ruling "don't ask, don't tell" unconstitutional.

"We still have a fighting chance to repeal DADT through Congressional action but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform - as well as the country - are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law. We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional."

Jonathan Hopkins, spokesman for OutServe, an "underground network" of gay active-duty service members:

"I am proud to represent the many thousands of gay soldiers willing to fight and die for their country even while their government tells them to hide their families and lie to their fellow soldiers. We all sacrifice for our country, but that is not a sacrifice that anyone should have to make. While 41% of the Senate failed the thousands who are harmed by this policy, OutServe still will be as we continue to grow its ability to provide outreach and support to those affected by this policy."

"Many of the Senators who voted to prevent cloture have claimed in the past that they would support military decisions. Now that the military is actually conducting objective analysis of the policy, those Senators seem to have changed their tune in line with their own prejudices against tens of thousands of dedicated service members."

Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, a pro-repeal group:

"Today's vote is a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics," said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "The Senate could learn a good lesson from those who serve in uniform and who stand to benefit from proceeding to debate on this bill - serving this country means putting politics aside and getting the job done. It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today."

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

"Once again, politicians are playing politics with people's lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and the DREAM Act -- two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness -- is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today's Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed."

Statement from GetEqual, a gay rights group:

"We are outraged after watching our right to serve openly in the military be volleyed back and forth like a political football while our community has done all we possibly can to secure our dignity." ... "Every single day there are soldiers in the process of being discharged under this policy. When dealing with basic civil rights, it no longer matters if you can take up that fight -- it matters if you won't."

"Four months ago, we asked the President to stop military discharges while the U.S. Congress haggled over our rights. He didn't respond, and we're now seeing the result of this complete lack of Presidential leadership and courage. So we're taking the fight back to the White House. Will you join us?"

Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs:

"Three quarters of Americans support elimination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because it is unconstitutional, un-American, and un-safe. We had a vote today because millions of Americans made their voices heard, and we will continue to keep the pressure on until this policy is relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs. This is not a matter of right and left, it's about right and wrong."

Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, which opposes repeal:

"The vote is a great victory for conservative values. The bill had several harmful provisions that had nothing to do with defense, including repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' and the provision to turn medical facilities on military bases into abortion clinics. Senate Democrats tried to covertly hijack good legislation with provisions that are harmful to families and unborn children. The military is supposed to protect and defend, not take away lives of those most innocent. To permit military health facilities to perform abortions would have been an affront to the very mission of the organization."

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell:

"We have no comment on the legislative process. This was an internal procedural matter for the Senate."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.):

"I'm disappointed by the vote today, but make no mistake: this is a cause whose time has come. I remain confident that we will repeal this policy that is unjust and discriminatory and counter both to our national values and our national security. We didn't win today, but we can win this fight this year."

Chad Griffin, a leader in California's Proposition 8 efforts:

"Our Constitution requires that every American is treated equally under the law and by our government. It is shameful that Congress did not act accordingly. Still, given the attention paid to this debate, as well as the recent federal court decisions regarding Prop. 8 and DOMA, I am hopeful that we are growing closer to meeting the promise of equality upon which our nation was founded."

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass):

"Today a Republican filibuster blocked funding for our troops and blocked efforts supported by our military brass to end outdated policies that force service members into the shadows or reject them entirely from serving their country. Gay and lesbian Americans are forced to lie about who they are, and patriotic youth who want to enlist are barred from service simply because they were brought to this country illegally as children. That's wrong."

"Today, we had the chance to listen to Admiral Mullen, General Colin Powell, and Defense Secretary Gates, strengthen our military, and make our society more just. That didn't happen, and that's an affront to patriots who want to serve their country and put their lives on the line for our security. As a veteran, I'm deeply disappointed, and as a Senator I'm deeply angered and determined to keep fighting until the Senate does what's right."

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group opposed to repeal:

"The vote today was a huge victory for the United States military. Forty-three senators, on a bi-partisan vote, stepped up to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to provide oversight in matters affecting the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

"The military is a strong institution, but the fact that it is subject to civilian control makes it vulnerable to political pressures from civilian activist groups that do not understand the military's unique culture and mission. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama tried to use the defense bill to score political points with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) activists and other groups they are counting on to get re-elected.

"The annual Defense Authorization Act should be used to strengthen our armed forces, not to provide political payoffs to liberal constituency groups. We are grateful that 43 responsible senators rejected this self-serving attempt to force a pre-election vote on legislation that would have imposed an LGBT policy on our military, authorized abortions in military hospitals, and circumvented orderly systems for legal immigration."

Leave YOUR thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | September 21, 2010; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Military  
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People like Penny Nance inevitably end up with a gay person in the family. I hate it when a bigot like her posits as someone who speaks for all women. I've got a transsexual stepson who served in the U. S. Marines for twenty years and I love her dearly, but I used to be like this judgmental, narrow woman. So glad I had the ability to grow into accepting people for their hearts rather than their dress code or partner. Shame on her and shame on McCain and his ilk.

Posted by: beaone | September 21, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Now who would want to see any of our tough Marines, Green Berets or Navy Seals cross-dressing in a female uniform?

Can't our military be off-limits to stuff like this?

Our enemies are going to laugh themselves to death when they see a mixed mess of wackadoos coming for them.

Is there anyway we can respect the uniform and let girls just be girls, and boys be boys?

Posted by: lindalovejones | September 21, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Since nearly every civilized nation allows gays and lesbians to serve openly, it's kind of amusing -- and very sad -- to see lindalovejones' bizarro comments about soldiers crossdressing, including "Our enemies are going to laugh themselves to death when they see a mixed mess of wackadoos coming for them."

Since the gays and lesbians serving openly in the military of other nations aren't a "mixed mess of wackadoos" why does lindalovejones think the homosexuals in the U.S. military would be?

It is amazing how the radical right which decries government interference in our personal lives is so concerned over the sexual orientation of the men and women who are risking their lives to protect the constitutional rights of the heterosexual "mess of wackadoos" of the radical right. It's amazing how the radical right is so anxious to dictate our personal lives -- especially what we do in the privacy of our own homes and the choices we make whether or not to have a child -- when they condemn "big government." But there is no government larger than the one that intrudes into our most intimate personal decisions and live.

The radical right that has hijacked the Republican Party is the most hypocritical bunch of bigots on earth. And unless American voters wake up before November, this "mess of wackadoos" is going to control at least one house of Congress and bring our nation to a standstill to fulfill their radical agenda.

Posted by: dl49 | September 21, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

The White House justified firing General McChrystal by claiming the General’s comments were a distraction. "We are fighting a war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies, who directly threaten the United States, Afghanistan, and our friends and allies around the world. Going forward, we must pursue this mission with a unity of purpose.", President Barrack H. Obama

So is unity more important than diversity? That depends.
“Diversity of thought” regarding war strategy is deemed a distraction and trumped by “Unity of Purpose”. However, “Unit Cohesion” among enlisted personnel is trumped by “sexual orientation diversity”.

The truth is that our highly trained warriors can chew bubble gum, laugh at Obama jokes, and fight the terrorists at the same time. However, if service personnel go back to the barracks and homosexuals are openly gaying off in the next bunk that might cause some sleepless nights and adversely effect troop readiness and performance.

Posted by: WWReaganDo | September 21, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Dear Elaine Donnelly, and Penny Nance,
It is because brave americans took up the fight for your right to vote that you are able to speak out in favor for the discrimination of another minority group of americans. It's shameful. To our legislators and President Obama, our country is an educated one. Have you forgotten your history? The discrimination of women and African Americans? It's appalling that you are continuing the abuse of a segment of our tax paying citizens. Politics as usual. You should be ashamed. Remember every morning you wake up, there are gay soldiers serving honorably to protect your right to discriminate against them.

Posted by: vaoceangal | September 21, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Serioulsy lindalovejones??? That was a joke posting, right? No one is that stoopid ... right? Please, say yes; joke, yes, ha ha. please.....

Posted by: upland_bill | September 21, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

The last thing we need are those of the fruitier persuasion ogling those trying to shower or go to bed. Leave em alone, ya hear?

Posted by: GodBless1 | September 21, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

As a veteran Army officer, I sign on with Sec. Gates' and Admiral Mullen's opinions. DADT should be abolished. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is quite capable of dealing with any misbehavior of soldiers. DADT is an insult to those who have served honorably and been discharged because of their sexual preference.

Posted by: 82ndairborne | September 22, 2010 1:46 AM | Report abuse

This should be left up to military people not politicians pandering to votes. The military is not biased against openly gay people they just want to do whatever it takes to keep their soldiers alive. If sucking off guys in the showers turned you into a Rambo style killing machine it would be part of basic training. This whole issue is complete nonsense. Reid would probably wet himself if he had to fire a gun. The fact that the guy is screwing with the military like this is more than reason enough for the Nevada voters to throw him out no matter how nutty his repub opponent is.

Posted by: peterg73 | September 22, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

This is not a civil rights issue. We don't hear about the performance of other countries' armies and how they address homosexuality in the ranks. I know of people that left the service because they couldn't stand the dumbing down of standards after women were allowed in. We are a volunteer army. What will we be left with if open homosexual behavior is tolerated? We have enough problems with fraternizing in the ranks. Will the left-wing MSM tell us about these problems with homosexuals? Homosexuality is a mental disorder, regardless what the DSM says.

Posted by: Jimmy371 | September 22, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It would be interesting if every gay person in the military, male or female, were to "out" themselves. How many members of the armed forces would then be discharged, and where would that leave our defenses?

Posted by: brucedc | September 22, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The whole "Don't ask don’t tell" is ridiculous. As a veteran who served many years side by side with gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual Soldiers; I feel it's unconstitutional. Soldiering is Soldiering, it doesn't matter what race, age, or gender you are. Is there some kind of statistical information that the Senate is not showing us? Do gay Soldiers not fire weapons the same as heterosexual Soldiers? Do gay bi-sexual Soldiers die differently in war? And lastly, do lesbian Soldiers lead their Soldiers differently? The answer is no, not they do not. I’d like to see them ask the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airman to vote on it. The individuals it will actually matter to. Not some prudes in the Senate who have not fought a day of their life for the country we live in. Funny thing is, if they asked service members to point out who is gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual; they would point out each on easily. You work, fight, and live with someone for 365 days a year you end up knowing more than their families.

Posted by: marisa89b | September 22, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

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