"Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) are cosponsoring the measure and other senators are expected to sign on throughout the day, according to Senate aides not authorized to speak on the record," reports the Washington Post.
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.
And: Lieberman says FY 2011 Defense Authorization
Request could be the best vehicle to process the repeal.
"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."
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).
Under intense pressure from Democratic Party officials, Harold E. Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman, has decided not to challenge Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand in the primary this fall. He has told friends that, while he is convinced he could prevail
against Ms. Gillibrand, he feared the winner of the primary would have
little money and remain highly vulnerable to a well-financed Republican
challenger at a time when the Democratic party controls the Senate by a
“I’ve examined this race in every possible way, and I keep returning
to the same fundamental conclusion: If I run, the likely result would
be a brutal and highly negative Democratic primary — a primary where
the winner emerges weak-ened and the Republican strengthened,” Mr. Ford
wrote in an opinion article to be published in Tuesday’s edition of The
New York Times. “I refuse to do anything,” he wrote, “that would help Republicans
win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the
Ford has written an op-ed "explaining" his reasons that will be published Tuesday.
The announcement comes only days after Merill Lynch announced it paid Ford Jr some $2 million annually before bonuses. He still refuses to disclose if he received a hefty taxpayer-funded bonus via the Wall Street "bailout". The announcement also comes only days after a speech to the Stonewall Democratic Club at New York City's LGBT Center where Ford was booed and hustled off-stage.
LGBT activists were the first to pushback against his flirting with Gillibrand's seat because Ford boasted one of the most anti-gay records of a Democrat in Congress. After voting twice for Bush's odious Federal Marriage Amendment, voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), voting against needle exchanges, voting against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians and voting against gay
adoptions, Ford left Congress in 2006 with a "25" (out of 100) rating
from the Human Rights Campaign. The former congressman now claims to have supported "civil unions" since he was "elected to Congress in 1996". There is no record of
Ford publicly expressing support for civil unions until after his retirement in 2007.
Thanks for thinking of what's best for the "Democratic Party", Junior. Srsly.
"I don't think he's aware of what the gay community is like in New York," said Marty Algaze, a veteran of both LGBT and Democratic politics. "He's walking into a lion's den ... A lot of people don't like him, and I have a feeling they're going to be a little hostile," Algaze continued. "This is a good opportunity for the club and the community to hear what he has to say, not just these sound bites he gives on TV. He gets rid of the issue really quick and then changes the subject. It's time for him to be grilled on these issues and see what he really knows." Algaze said Stonewall has reached out to Gillibrand and is trying to set up a time for her to come speak as well. The hope is to announce her scheduled appearance on the same night Ford shows up.
Junior will have a lot of explaining to do. After voting twice for Bush's odious Federal Marriage Amendment, voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), voting against needle exchanges, voting against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians and voting against gay adoptions, Ford left Congress in 2006 with a "25" (out of 100) rating from the Human Rights Campaign. The former congressman now claims to have supported "civil unions" since he was "elected to Congress in 1996" ... but there is no record of
Ford publicly expressing support for civil unions until after his retirement in 2007.
"I am leading this fight because I believe strongly that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a threat to the men and women in our armed services, and a threat to our national security," she said. Gillibrand reiterated the historic testimony of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that repealing "don’t ask, don’t tell" was the "right thing to do."
"The hearing this week was a very important first step, but we have a lot of work of to do, and we will lift this dangerous, discriminatory, and damaging policy out of our government," said Gillibrand. "Tonight, I am announcing that I plan to introduce an amendment to the budget that will bar the use of funds for the enforcement of this policy," she said. The senator offered no further details about the amendment, turning immediately to discuss other “important fights” including repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
On late Friday, the New York Times broke the news of the amendment announcement and reported: "Gillibrand’s proposal, which would be introduced as an amendment to the federal budget, would deny funding to the military for the costs of pursuing inquiries, dismissal proceedings and other procedures associated with enforcing the ban."
In July, Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings submitted and then immediately withdrew an amendment that would have de-funded the DADT investigations. Hastings says congressional leadership and the White House "pressured" him to kill the amendment. Now, with the White House beginning its strategy of repealing the ban, its unsure what their reaction would be to Gillibrand's amendment.
Gillibrand's announcement comes at the same time senators disagree on how to go forward with a DADT repeal. On Friday R20 reported some senators want to a full repeal of the ban in 2010 and others prefer a moratorium on discharges.
After voting twice for Bush's odious Federal Marriage Amendment, against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), against needle exchanges, against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians and against gay adoptions, Ford left Congress in 2006 with a "25" (out of 100) rating from the Human Rights Campaign. The former congressman now claims to have supported "civil unions" since he was "elected to Congress in 1996". But there is no record of Ford publicly expressing support for civil unions ... until after his retirement in 2007.
In a January 11 appearance on “The Today Show,” Ford said he now supports gay marriage and had long supported civil unions. "I’ve been a supporter of civil unions since I was elected to Congress in 96," he said. " My support for fairness and equality long existed before I moved to New York." However, the earliest Ford statement supporting civil unions found by Gay City News came in 2007 at an appearance at East Tennessee State University that was reported in the East Tennessean, that school’s student newspaper. He also told students that he intended to run for office again. In 2001 and 2003, HRC asked representatives to co-sponsor bills that granted benefits to the domestic partners of civilian federal workers. Ford was not a sponsor of that legislation in either congressional session.
The newspaper says Ford's spokesperson refused to provide answers "to questions about the former congressman's claims on gay rights issues."
One highlight of Junior's LGBT record: Ford supported a 1998 amendment to a District of Columbia appropriations bill that banned gay adoption in DC. In the next Congress, Ford reversed his position on the gay adoption ban but "supported legislation that barred using federal funds to develop school curricula that addressed anti-gay bullying."
But the interview does NOT mention that Ford voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), against gay adoptions in Washington D.C., against needle exchanges and against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians. For all those no votes, Ford gives himself a "10" and adds: "I started at 8."
Q. Let’s talk about gay marriage. You know your
record very well, but to quickly remind you, you voted to ban same sex
marriage, with the Federal Marriage Amendment, twice.
I can say up until 2003, most organizations and national organization
that had an office in Washington dedicated to fighting for equality for
Americans, I enjoyed broad support and big support from them. The
marriage votes drove my ratings down considerably, and arguably rightly
so. I have been a supporter of civil unions. My opponent raised the
issue on the campaign trail in Tennessee.
As the presidential race unfolded, one of the things I recognized during the campaign: My position on same-sex marriage
resembles President Obama’s over the years. Frankly, up until maybe a
year ago, that of the senior senator in the state, Senator Schumer, who
was opposed to same-sex marriage.
Q. Where are you now?
I am for gay marriage. Or same-sex marriage. I don’t want to say it the
wrong way. I think people are sensitive to it. I have been painted as
being this right-wing zealot on choice. Nothing could be further from
the truth. I think there are legitimate questions around my support for
Q. Let’s focus on your two votes to ban same-sex marriage. Can you explain that? Walk me through that.
The last three years, think about what has transpired. How many states
have either courts and or legislatures that have declared same-sex
marriage is acceptable in their states? There has been a robust debate.
don’t think it’s a great leap to go from civil unions to gay marriage —
I may be in the minority in believing that. But I don’t think there is.
Long before I arrived in New York, my commitment to issues of fairness
and equality are clear and obvious and unmistakable. And in light of
that, and consistent with that, according the same rights that a couple
were married, versus the rights provided by civil unions, I don’t
believe the difference is that great. I understand that in certain
communities it’s not viewed on equal footing. But my change, or my
maturation to that point....
Q. What changed for you?
Understand, I did not start at zero and get to 10. I started at 8. This
is my point: I think some of the press accounts of my record have been
distorted or just been wrong. People make it sound as if — let’s go
back to the votes in the Congress.
Q. Do you regret those votes, then?
I have been in politics for 14 years. I was elected back in 1996 ...
over the 14 years, have I learned and have I listened? Absolutely.
Understand, Michael, I did not go from zero to 10. I was for civil
unions and believed strongly that the flow of benefits and protections
that would be provided in a civil union for same-sex couples, the
decisions that have to be made, when health hardships are faced, when
economic hardships are faced, I wanted all of those protections. I
never strayed from them. It was just the issue of marriage, that
particularly over the last three years, I have come to understand
Neither Schumer nor Gillibrand voted against ENDA, hate crimes or gay adoptions. And he gives himself an 8? If you say so, hon.
Oh and before we forget ... Junior "has breakfast most mornings at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue", never takes the subway, is chauffeured around Manhattan and regularly enjoys pedicures.
The Harold Ford Jr. makeover continues as he "strongly considers" a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. In conservative op-ed pages of the New York Post, known for its virtual race-baiting and gaybashing, the former Tennessee congressman who voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians and for the Federal Marriage Amendment (twice) tweaks his record on equality and reproductive choice. The revisionism is quite entertaining.
I am pro-choice—have always been since I entered politics almost 15 years ago. My cumulative grade with NARAL during 10 years in Congress was right at 80 percent. Any assertions to the contrary are false. I remain committed to promoting gun safety and handgun control, and I look forward to working with Mayor Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Corey Booker and their coalition to reduce handgun violence in cities across America. Despite what critics say about me, I enjoyed uninterrupted support from organized labor throughout my time in Congress. And from the moment I arrived in Congress, I supported civil unions. Like New York's senior senator, after listening to and participating in the national conversation about full equality and fairness, I support same-sex marriage.
A Democrat who has to run to the NY Post to prove he is a Democrat. smh.
"Cumulative", of course, means total. Ford actually had a 30 rating from NARAL when he left Congress. Watch NY NARAL's attack ad that targets the staunchly "pro life" Ford, where he repeatedly slams choice ("I was never pro-choice!") and demands the Republicans introduce a law outlawing abortion. Watch it WHEN YOU JUMP....
New York LGBT activists are not exactly welcoming former Tennessee Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr's sudden conversion to gay rights and marriage equality, after he voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, against extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians and for the Federal Marriage Amendment. Twice.
Last week, Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, called a potential Ford's potential New York Senate primary challenge "disturbing". Van Capelle now slams Ford after this morning's interview on Today where Ford claimed to have "always favored " equality.
The statement reads:
I know Harold Ford, Jr. just arrived to New York, but as a native and lifelong resident I know what New York values are and I know a snake oil salesman when I see one. You simply can’t claim to be pro-equality if you’ve twice voted to enshrine discrimination into the U.S. Constitution.
While it may be tempting for Mr. Ford to compare himself to people like Senator Chuck Schumer, the fact remains that Senator Schumer—who did evolve on his position on marriage equality—has been a longtime supporter of several pieces of legislation that are very important to LGBT people and never supported the awful Federal Marriage Amendment. Harold Ford, Jr. is no Chuck Schumer and he is no Kirsten Gillibrand.
The fact is Senator Gillibrand has voted in support of LGBT equality every time she’s had the chance to during her entire career as an elected official. Kirsten Gillibrand has supported LGBT people and Harold Ford, Jr. has not.
Quite frankly, I cannot point to another member of the U.S. Senate who, in their first year in office, has been more outspoken and passionate than Kirsten Gillibrand about her support for legislation that would finally provide full equality to LGBT Americans. Personally speaking, she will have my vote and I would think that the work she has done over the past year has earned her the support of the vast majority of LGBT New Yorkers.