While Lady Gaga and other homosexual rights activists this week celebrated the prospect of the Senate repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality, the path to victory may not be as smooth as some Democrat leaders are portraying it.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that the Senate would take up a vote on a DADT repeal next week, which has been embedded in a defense spending measure. The House of Representatives already passed a repeal earlier this year.
But in an interview with liberal pundit Rachel Maddow Wednesday evening, Vice President Joe Biden revealed the lack of a strong consensus among Democrat senators over the DADT repeal.
While Biden said Republicans would only filibuster over the DADT “if they’re as foolish as I think they may be,” he admitted that the 55 Senate votes favoring repeal were scraped together with some difficulty.
“The truth of the matter is, we had to build a consensus for this. Working very hard on the telephone. Calling people. And everybody’s looking forward to the orderly elimination of this law,” he said.
The vice president also mentioned that Republicans will likely offer an amendment to strip the DADT-related provisions – a move that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) indicated may have enough votes to succeed, according to Politico.
In addition, the bill could be taken down by a presidential veto thanks to an unrelated topic, if the final version includes authorization for weapons programs that Obama strongly opposes.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill provide for a repeal of DADT only if President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mike Mullen sign off on the move as reasonable in light of a Pentagon report predicting its effects on military readiness. But while the report has yet to be completed, Gates and Mullen have already joined Obama and signaled support for a DADT repeal.
Meanwhile, the homosexualist group that won a federal suit against the military’s DADT policy has requested that the federal judge issue an injunction barring enforcement of the policy.
Judge Virginia A. Phillips had already indicated that she planned to issue an injunction as she issued the ruling last week. Phillips ruled that DADT violates the First Amendment rights of homosexual members of the military by unduly limiting their speech.
Obama’s Justice Department has yet to file an appeal against the ruling. Because the Obama administration has vowed to oppose DADT, some pundits cast doubt on whether Justice Department attorneys would contravene the decision.
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to let the ruling stand; however, they admitted in the letter that only a legislative repeal would offer “real finality” on the policy’s end.