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Posted at 1:23 PM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Scott Brown comes out in favor of DADT repeal

By Greg Sargent

This is potentially important. The statement just out from Senator Scott Brown's office:

"I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer. As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.

"I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary's recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed."

A few quick points on this. First, it shows beyond doubt -- as I thought would happen -- that Robert Gates's handling of this whole affair was calibrated precisely to give GOP moderates the cover they needed to support repeal. Specifically, Gates' repeated assurances that he would have control over the pace of implementation shrewdly removed one of the last pretexts GOP moderates had to oppose lifting the policy.

Second, it shows that Gates has been actively working these moderates behind the scenes, offering them personal reassurances. This seems to reflect well on the White House's commitment to making repeal happen. Third, this could open the door for other GOP moderates to step forward and do the same.

One important question: How does this square with Mitch McConnell's letter vowing that the entire GOP caucus would stand in unison against DADT repeal and everything else Dems want until the standoff over the Bush tax cuts and funding the government are resolved? If Brown confirms he will vote for cloture on the Defense Authorization Bill containing DADT repeal, irrespective of whether a deal is reached on the tax cuts, it makes McConnell's threat look pretty empty.

Keep an eye on the remaining moderates. More when I learn it.

UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: One other quick point. It's one thing for Senator Brown to say he supports repeal in general. What needs to be established is whether Brown's vote for repealing DADT is contingent on Harry Reid jumping through a whole bunch of procedural hoops that some GOPers have demanded. More on that when I get it, but for now, this is clearly a positive step.

By Greg Sargent  | December 3, 2010; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Republicans, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can we please have some nuance?
Next: What are opponents of DADT repeal thinking?


Does "keeping an eye on" mean that you are actively contacting their offices? Because TPL shouldn't just be a link machine - you have every reason to try and break news as well.

Good to hear Scott Brown coming out on the right side of history for this one. Let's hope a few more of his fellow GOPers do the same.

Do we have a decent idea of how many GOP members would have to flip to get this through?

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | December 3, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"If Brown confirms he will vote for cloture, irrespective of whether a deal is reached on the tax cuts, it makes McConnell's threat look pretty empty."

Yeah, but I don't see him making such a statement though. IMO, all he has to do is say, "See those bad Dems won't let us vote on tax cuts first!" Empty support that's good enough to make his constituents support him, but yet nothing happens.

All said though, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted by: Alex3 | December 3, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Good for Brown and good for America! Here's hoping that Reid agrees to full debate and amendment process so that this can go forward. It really is stupid for the Senate to be wasting time on tax bills that we all know won't be going anywhere. (But the GOP should be reminded that it makes strategic sense to allow your adversary to lose gracefully...)

Posted by: sbj3 | December 3, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

There will be others. Gates and Mullen's presentations were just too airtight, and I think many moderate Repubs are tired of the chesty grandstanding. They have electorates to answer to too. It's also possible that the tax deal is pretty much wrapped up, and they are now moving on to other business.

Posted by: mgoetzesq | December 3, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Brown seems more reasonable than most Republicans--probably he's remembering that he does. after all, represent a blue state.

Posted by: wd1214 | December 3, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans made a deal to let Scott Brown do this because he has to run for re-election in Massachusetts in 2 years.

the Republicans are still blocking this - don't get your panties all in a bunch, Greg.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Remember Scott Brown did not make this statement until Mark Kirk was safely sworn into office.

The Republicans still all understand they are standing firm with 41 votes

They are giving Scott Brown a pass because he has a potentially difficult re-election in 2012


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

How gruesome. Obama shows up in Afghanistan one cares. Why? America does not want to be at war not there, not anywhere.

Republicans and Obama supporters feel they have to stick to their guns, otherwise we'd have to cut and run which seems unmanly (see, I'm on topic!). Bottom line (sorry, I'll stop) America does not support the war. We can't wait for it to stop.

The country is still tribal, viciously patriarchal, so corrupt it makes no sense to use the is what it always has been and that won't change. The Taliban will not be defeated. So we go on with the killing because we have show that we were not defeated, again.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"McConnell's threat look pretty empty".

McConnell doesn't make empty threats. That's the job of the President and the Democratic leadership.

This will actually probably increase pressure for Reid and the President to acquiesce to the Republicans proposal/demands for the full Bush tax cuts extension first & terms of debate for the Defense Authorization bill because there's now more likelihood of an upside for striking a deal (i.e. getting things like DADT through).

Posted by: jnc4p | December 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Soldiers are in combat at this moment in a war that our military and political leadership have failed to win over 9 years. Today I stood in the Pentagon and watched Wounded Warrior pass through while the leaders responsible for winning this war devoted their time to the advancement of a political agenda and not securing the nation and keeping more service members from getting wounded or killed. The process like the survey are a manipulated sham!

Posted by: RedskinsReverend | December 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

And then we have John McCain, the true definition of a bigot, or worse.

Posted by: cameroon | December 3, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

And then we have John McCain, the true definition of a bigot, or worse.

Posted by: cameroon | December 3, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

And then we have John McCain, the true definition of a bigot, or worse.

Posted by: cameroon | December 3, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It's true, a Republican can actually be a decent human being and live in a fact-based understanding of the world!

Good for you, Senator Brown. Keep it up and you might just keep the seat.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | December 3, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey cameroon, my brother. No need to hit the enter button three times. This is not like the tribal chant you do in the old country where you have to repeat it three times.

Posted by: dollarsforgoofs | December 3, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I think this is sooo funny.

We have radical Republicrooks wetting their pants and accusing the repeal of DADT to be a "leftist" fantasy.

Now we have their Star Hero, who they repeatedly praised as their "conservative equal" asking that a law be passed to allow gays to come out of their military closets.

What a tickle. Scott Brown really pivoted to left of the right wing radicals.

I'm against the repeal because if the allow gays to be open in the military it's just going to cause too much fuss.

Next they'll need gay uniforms, and what if they're confronted with an enemy while in gay attire? Our servicemen might be laughed off the battlefield if they plan on cross-dressing in the military.

If DADT is repealed, would cross-dressing in military uniform be considered protected speech?

Posted by: lindalovejones | December 3, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

BGinCHI, can you imagine if Meghan were in the White House and Bristol (whom Meghan has, of course, publicly criticized) were the daughter of the Vice President? Imagine their moms getting involved^. I don't think the spectacle would have been worth McCain/Palin having won, but it would have been a spectacular spectacle.

^Margaret Cho, citing an unnamed source who "really should seriously know the dirt," suggested that "Sarah supposedly blames Bristol harshly and openly...for not winning the election, and so she told Bristol she 'owed' it to her to do DWTS so that 'America would fall in love with her again' and make it possible for Sarah Palin to run in 2012 with America behind her all the way."

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Seems pretty clear Olympia Snowe will also vote for repeal.

Posted by: brickerd | December 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear lindalovejones, You really need to get out more. Your life -- such as it is -- is surrounded by gay/lesbian people who provide you with more than fashion and flowers. Really, gay uniforms? Dresses? Fantasy dressed teenagers in fatiques and carrying plastic rifles are more in touch with their fears, hopes and logic than you project. Un-limit your imagination. We work everywhere. We do everything. We raise our children, teach our students, represent our states, and judge your criminals in spite of those who dress in white sheets, wear invisible iron cross earrings and goosestep Communist falsehoods. I predict that your children will live in a more enlightened era, passing you by as one afraid of fact, devoid of human compassion, and unaware of liberty and justice for all -- except when it is consistent with uneducated and chauvinistic condition. May you seek out and find a place in the progress of higher learning and social awareness. Drop your fears at the door.

Posted by: oliverjoseph | December 3, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Senator Scott Brown's statement does *not* invalidate Mitch McConnell's letter vowing that the entire GOP caucus would stand in unison against DADT repeal and everything else Dems want until the standoff over the Bush tax cuts and funding the government are resolved. He *could* decide to buck the trend on the Republican side for the Tax Cuts to be something worth fightig for. I don't doubt his sincerity, but if he is looking for political cover, McConnell has given it to him.

You hit the nail on the head with this:

"What needs to be established is whether Brown's vote for repealing DADT is contingent on Harry Reid jumping through a whole bunch of procedural hoops that some GOPers have demanded."

You are for the flat repeal of DADT. I am not. I am for controlled phasing out, which Gates has promised, but is quite powerless to deliver upon unless he is supported by Obama. Obama, because of the pressure from those who are adamnant that DADT must "just go away immediately" have not given him the ground he needs to do this, and even if they should try to give it to him at this point of the game, he may tie Gates hands, and Gates will be seen as ineffective and a scapegoat. It will also damage any future hopes that Reid has for easy negotiations in the future if the more Moderate Republicans get the shaft on this.

Add to this the fact that summary repeal does not guarantee anything of the sort that everyone thinks will be given to the LGBT community. Now it will be those from among them that they have choosen not to shut down who will cause the problems, but should problems arise and it seems to be because of beligerant actions on the part of some Gay Activists who have joined *not* to serve, but to cause trouble and push their agenda further, it could be bad.

The next President will have the power to roll all of this back. Make it bad enough and Obama will have to do something, and if that happens, step back 30 years folks, and understand that you did it to yourselves!!!


Posted by: Clearbrook | December 3, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

And then we have John McCain, the true definition of a bigot, or worse.

Posted by: cameroon | December 3, 2010 2:17 PM


I disagree

Perhaps you are the bigot for not accepting a diversity of opinions.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 3, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

How ironic that on WaPo's homepage, the headline for "Scott Brown Supports Repeal of DADT" is exactly next to the one about how homosexual priests who abuse boys disappear after being kicked out of the church.

Cognitive Dissonance anyone?

Posted by: pgr88 | December 3, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

pgr88 you are disgusting. You know darn good and well (since you know big words like cognitive dissonance) sex crimes against children are committed by men against girls in overwhelming, truly horrific numbers. So, do you think gays and lesbians in the military might actually be a better thing for kids in general?

Posted by: shrink2 | December 3, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

All, a personal note on anti-gay bigotry and Don't Ask Don't Tell:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 3, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse


Chuck Grassley hits back on ethanol subsidies, throws back the "yeah but oil gets subsidies too" line:

Yeah, what about those oil subsidies? Better question for Grassley... Which would you prefer:

A) neither ethanol nor oil gets subsidies or
B) both continue to get subsidies?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | December 3, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It is time that three homophobes were separated from the military and younger fresher minds took those slots. The greatest general of the ancient world, Alexander the Greek, conquered the known world in his time -- his homosexuality neither disrupted his military nor caused any reduction in effectiveness.

EVERY Samuri was inducted to the Samuri code by his mentor/master in an explicitly homosexual relationship, and not the best US combat warrior could ever defeat a mediocre Samuri in hand-to-hand combat.

King David in the Bible, the winingest general the Isrealis ever had, then or now, was openly homosexual with King Saul's son.

You can argue what you like but the historical facts call you a liar if you claim that gays cannot produce the best soldiers the world has ever seen. In fact, showing up the wimpy straights could be the cause of homophobia -- the gays are just so obviously better qualified that it's embarrassing to the red-neck drunk 30% of whinny complainers.

There are already gays in the military. That's why 80,000 have been separated by DADT, many of them with more important skills and medals for bravery being badmouthed by some drunken redneck lowbrow privates who never distinguished themselves in combat at all.

It is clear that many officers in the military VIOLATED THIS LAW, they did ASK, they witchhunted private emails from people who never TOLD. If you are kicking out somebody, let's kick out every officer who violated the law and revoke their pension! Gay taxpayers should not be supporting homophobe haters who break the law!

I'll trade you, one hatefilled homophobe kicked to the curb for every gay you bully. This policy ends fast when the ASKERS get their ASK kicked!

McCain has aided and abetted criminal conduct of officers who DID ASK, poked into secret private emails like they were wikileakers. The DADT law is clear: DON'T ASK! Violaters must get their ASK kicked. One officer will be fired for every gay discharge. Gay Taxpayers do not need to support homophobe bullies and their criminal acts. The bums certainly deserve to lose their pensions for dishonorable actions. They need to find out what it is like to look for a job at 45 years old with no pension, no medical care waiting for you. Trade you ONE FOR ONE, bullies! Go ahead McCain, MAKE MY DAY!

Posted by: Liann | December 3, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Liann forgets Frederick the Great. The list great of gay military leaders and heros is long.

Posted by: ljwaks | December 3, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Liann, you take creative presumptions and try to sell them as fact. I am sorry, but the majority of the people have stopped drinking the Koolaid of either color. Go try and sell the crazy ideas on some other poor rubes, please. You do know that your language skirts the line a bit. I don't need to ASK you, because you already said so!

Update: Collins also says yes, but *explicitly* ties it to tax cuts and other Republican Initiatives. What I am hearing is this:

A Democratic Pundit, speaking on the eve of the election, was less hopeful. “If the results are a fairly sweeping Republican victory,” he said, “then I would fully expect the lame-duck Congress to honor the tradition of doing lame-duck work.”

In other words: good luck. The Republicans *know* that if Reid refuses to cave on their demands, they can hold out for about 1 month and the game changes *very* drastically!

Posted by: Clearbrook | December 3, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

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