The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military is under consideration in the Senate for repeal. It comes attached to a major defense bill. This policy was enacted 15 years ago, and has since been a subject that continues to come up.
ABC News reports that two Senators intend to vote against the bill, for various reasons. Thus, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unlikely to be repealed. These two votes, Senator Susan Collins from Maine and Senator John McCain from Arizona, would be critical to the bill’s passing.
This comes in the wake of some extremely controversial proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda that was under presidential fire earlier this year. The proposed legislation would impose severe penalties upon gays and lesbians simply for their sexual orientation, even going as far as the death penalty.
According to VOA News, President Obama called the legislation “odious” (defined as “hateful” by Merriam-Webster Dictionary). He went on to say, in part, that “It is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it’s here in the United States or… more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed.”
This may have been more readily taken as a supportive statement to gays had it not been made at a prayer breakfast connected to fundamentalist evangelicals. Still, essentially, he did bring gay rights out to be human rights. This approach could help to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
At the same time, the President has seemed to be sending mixed messages about his support for gays. During his campaign, he did state his support, and since being elected had also promised to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the end of his administration. Yet there was still more controversy when a number of people boycotted a 2009 LGBT fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, according to ABC News. This over a brief filed by Obama’s Justice Department which argued against same-sex marriage.
Other political efforts have made definitive progress in the advancement of gay rights. Same-sex marriage has recently been gaining approval in more states. In 2009, Iowa became a surprising state to reverse a ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional, thereby allowing gays to marry in the state. The New York Times reports this as a unanimous decision. It would make sense that this decision of unconstitutionality would also tie in to the currently proposed repeal.
It seems that, although the votes don’t appear promising that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be repealed at this time, it still is likely to come back around to be repealed anyway.
Matthew Jaffe and Devin Dwyer, Defeat Looms for ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Repeal Ahead of Senate Vote, ABC News
Joe Decapua,At National Prayer Breakfast Obama calls Anti-Homosexual Legislation in Uganda ‘Odius’, VOA News
Jake Tapper, More Gay Donors Drop Out of DNC Fundraiser, Protesting Justice Department Brief, ABC News
Monica Davey,Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Ban, The New York Times