Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has introduced the Senate’s first bill to repeal "Don’t ask, Don’t Tell". The bill submitted this morning has 11 Democratic cosponsors—including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (MI), reportedly only the second time he has co-sponsored a bill in that capacity—but no Republican co-sponsors so far. Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate:
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 would repeal the 1993 law that banned lesbian and gay soldiers from serving openly in the military and replace it with a policy that prohibits discrimination against service members on the basis of their sexual orientation. Lieberman explained that the nondiscrimination provision would make the change “more permanent legislatively,” so a future administration couldn’t revert back to something akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” by executive action.
Lieberman, who has opposed the ’93 law since its inception, said ending the policy has significant support and that he would push for passing the bill this year, although he wasn’t sure he had the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. “I think a guess right now—and this is really a guess—if this bill came to a vote tomorrow, we’d have over 50 votes and that’s saying a lot,” he said. “Do we have 60? Not clear yet, but possible.”
The Lieberman/Levin bill would complement the House version of the Military Readiness Act sponsored by Pennsylvania's Patrick Murphy. There are 188 co-sponsors for Murphy's legislation, approaching the 218 votes needed for passage. Despite conflicting signals from the White House, Murphy tells DC Agenda he is confident Congress will take up the issue "legislatively in the next couple months.
"That’s something that I’m happy to consider and, of course, it’s very important to have [Chairman Levin's] support for that," Lieberman said, noting that including a measure in committee would have "the procedural advantage” of forcing opponents to find the 60 votes needed to strip out the measure once it reached the floor. If the opposition failed to amass those votes, they would have to filibuster the entire Defense authorization bill, which would include many other provisions they might hesitate to obstruct, such as an increase in compensation for military personnel and funding for various defense systems."
Lieberman says the Obama Administration, which initially asked him to sponsor the bill, has not discussed timing or specific strategies for repeal.
Per Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the co-sponsors are as follows: Levin (MI), Udall (CO), Gillibrand (NY), Burris (IL), Bingaman (NM), Boxer and Feinstein (CA), Wyden and Merkely (OR), Leahy (VT), Specter (PA) and Franken (MN).