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DADT CLOTURE VOTE AT 2:30 p.m. ET NOW (DADT Open Thread)

(Cross-posted from LGBTPOV)

UPDATED at 2:25 PT: MSNBC just corrected itself to say the vote will be at 2:30 ET again. But that may change, of course. Stay tuned. — Eden

by Karen Ocamb

John McCainThis is it. (Updated) Senators just adjourned after debating on whether to proceed to debate on the National Defense Authorization Act which contains language to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. You can watch on C-SPAN2. Bottom line: Democratic Sen. Carl Levin wants to break the filibuster through the cloture vote coming up at UPDATE 3:30ET, 12:30 Pacific to get to full and open debate on the bill, including the introduction of amendments, as Majority Leader Harry Reid promised last week when he limited debate to only three amendments – as I previously posted in the overview. But, he says, “we need to get to the bill in order to debate” the many expected amendments.

Republican Sen. John McCain says no vote should be taken on repealing DADT until after the Pentagon’s survey on how the troops and their families feel about the repeal is completed on Dec. 1. He says voting on it now is “jamming” it through before the Nov. 2 election so President Obama can keep his promise to the gay lobby. McCain stressed how the four joint chiefs of staff oppose changing the legislation until after the survey is complete. McCain is stunned that only the President, Secretary of Defense Gates and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen – and not the four joint chiefs – are allowed to “certify” the results of the survey before any repeal is possible.

In response to McCain, Levin quoted from Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee where he said that repealing DADT was “the right thing to do.” Mullen is the BOSS of the joints chiefs – so who wins this vote may also impact his future, too. Gates has already announced he is leaving soon.

The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson will be tweeting during the vote, @cjagenda. He also has an updated story of where the situation stands right now: “Doubts persist as today’s ‘Don’t Ask’ cloture vote approaches”


Here is where we are. The Republican moderates are angry with Senator Reid because he has limited their side to 3 amendments. They want to be able to offer as many as they want. Reid places the limitation so that he can manage the bill. To quote Lindsey Graham “Elections have consequences.” The conservative Republicans are arguing that we need to wait for the Pentagon report and voting on the NDAA shows disrespect for our troops. They also are arguing that Reid has added an irrelevant amendment with the Dream Act. This happens all the time in the Senate and even McCain has done the same thing in the past. For instance, he added campaign finance, to a NDAA many years ago. Just a smoke screen. Both DADT and the Dream Act are relevant. The Dream Act allows for a path to citizenship by serving in the military.

Not sure where the count is at this time. Looks like Snowe, Collins and Brown will not vote for cloture.

Here’s SLDN’s list of the Senators who may still be moved before the vote, followed by an excerpt from Mullen’s testimony.


–George Lemieux (R-FL);

–Susan Collins (R-ME);

–Olympia Snowe (R-ME);

–Mark Pryor (D-Ark.);

–Richard Lugar (R-IN);

–Judd Gregg (R-NH);

–Jim Webb (D-VA);

–George Voinovich (R-OH);

–Kit Bond (R-MO);


Call both your senators at the Capitol switchboard right now and urge them to vote to end the filibuster and move on to a real debate on the Defense bill. No spin. No more delays. This should be a bipartisan vote. (202) 224-3121

UPDATE BY EDEN: Please use this as an open thread to discuss the vote as it happens.

85 Comments September 21, 2010

The latest on DADT: Trial briefs submitted today; SU targets Senators to call

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

LCR-DADT-Dan-Woods-headshot-243x300Servicemembers United is lobbying Congress all day Thursday to legislatively repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a move stalled by concern the repeal didn’t get caught up in the far right-wing swing of the Republican primary. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Lady Gaga (and the rest of us) that next week he’s bringing the Defense Appropriations Bill and the DADT repeal to a vote in the Senate.

Meanwhile, in the other major development on the DADT front – District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who ruled on Sept. 9 that the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy is unconstitutional, gave both sides a deadline of between Thursday and next Thursday, Sept. 23 to submit briefs on the permanent injunction against enforcing DADT.

Dan Woods, (pictured) the straight Republican the lawyer in the Log Cabin case, told me:

“As per the judge’s order, we plan to submit (Thursday in the early afternoon) a proposed permanent injunction that would prevent any further application of DADT. The government then has a week to object to our proposal. The judge would then be expected to sign either our proposed injunction or a modified version of what we submit.

Our proposed injunction would cover all military installations, wherever located. We expect the government to object to this and try to limit it to California but feel we are on solid ground.

Once the judge signs the injunction, the government is free to appeal. I have no idea whether it will. If it does, it will also move for an order staying the injunction pending the appeal. We will vigorously oppose any such motion.”

UPDATE BY EDEN: Karen posted this a few days ago, but it couldn’t be more timely:

Jarrod and AlexBack in the beltway, the Washington Blade broke the news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is bringing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’’t Tell to a vote next week as part of the Defense Appropriations bill. The Advocate looked at where the vote stands.

A senior Democratic aide told Kerry Eleveld that they expected Republicans would filibuster the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which provides funding for the Defense Department, and 60 votes would be needed to end debate on the bill and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona renewed his filibuster threat last week.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reported during a segment on DADT, however, that McCain may now be “softening” his stance now that this Republican primary is over.

Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United (pictured here with his partner Alex Nicholson, SU executive director) says SU is holding an in-person lobby day on Thursday. And a Facebook message asks people outside of Washington DC to call Senators between 8:00am and 5:00pm EST. Jarrod asks that calls be made all week. Here’s the message and list -– note the number of Democrats:

***This is a CALL TO ACTION: Pick up your phone and get ready to call Congress!***

Sources say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is going to be bringing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal up for a vote next week. We need to make sure we have the votes we need to end this viciously discriminatory policy once and for all!

Please call one or more (or all!) of the following senators – identified by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as key senators for this vote – and urge them to support repeal! Even if you do not live in any of these states, DADT is a national issue and we need to make sure the Senate votes our way.

Harry Reid (D-NV): 202-224-3542
Mitch McConnell (R-KY): 202-224-2541
John McCain (R-AZ): 202-224-2541
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.): 202-224-4843
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.): 202-224-2353
Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): 202-224-4814
Jon Tester (D-Mont.): 202-224-2644
Max Baucus (D-Mont.): 202-224-2651
Judd Gregg (R-N.H.): 202-224-3324
Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.): 202-224-2551
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.): 202-224-2043
George Voinovich (R-Ohio): 202-224-3353
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.): 202-224-5842
Mark Warner (D-Va.): 202-224-2023

UPDATE BY EDEN: Rachel Maddow interviews Vice President Joe Biden on DADT:

Part 1: Setup for interview, including Rachel on Gaga/Reid:


144 Comments September 16, 2010

Gaga, Reid, DADT converge at the intersection of pop and politics

By Eden James

If you haven’t been following this week’s developments on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, then you’ve probably been hiding in a cave.

After all, it’s in the bloodstream of not just the cable news channels but the entertainment shows as well, after Lady Gaga made it her mission to highlight DADT at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night and turn over the front page of her web site to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

As Yahoo reported:

“After the show aired, web searches soared on everything from “lady gaga guests” to “what does SLDN stand for”.

Then, after Gaga went on Ellen, it hit the Twitterverse and the news cycle extended again. Check out this Las Vegas TV news blow-by-blow of the tweeting lovefest between Lady Gaga and Senator Harry Reid, who promised to bring DADT to the floor for a vote next week, as a part of the larger Defense Authorization bill:


And that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg of activism inspired by Lady Gaga’s move on Sunday. A great deal of credit goes to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which courageously decided to amp up the pressure on the Senate by moving out of the comfortable cul de sac of political activists and into the realm of pop culture. (Of course, it goes without saying that if it wasn’t for the hard work done for years by SLDN, Servicemembers United, Knights Out, the Palm Center and so many other organizations, institutions, and individuals — the list is endless — dedicated to the repeal of DADT this “tipping point” moment would not have been possible).

What we are witnessing is the accelerating convergence of pop culture and politics and a recognition by people as powerful as Sen. Reid that it can’t be ignored – and should be embraced. We saw a similar dynamic in 2008 after produced the “Yes, We Can” video following Barack Obama’s defeat in the New Hampshire primary:


UPDATE: The “Gaga-inspired-student-calls-their-Senator” trend is picking up on YouTube. Check out this student calling Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown — and finding out that Brown is against the repeal of DADT… until the Pentagon issues its report in December:

Inspired? Call the Capitol Switchboard right now to talk with your Senator ASAP. As the video above shows, it just takes a minute of your time:

(202) 224-3121

87 Comments September 15, 2010

DADT: Sen. Harry Reid announces Senate will vote on defense bill, including DADT repeal, next week

By Eden James

Various sources have been breaking this news today, including the Washington Blade which was the leader of the pack:

The Washington Blade has learned that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intends to schedule a vote next week on major defense budget legislation that contains “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language, regardless of any objection from members of the U.S. Senate.

A senior Democratic leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Reid met with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday to inform the Republican leader that the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill will come to the Senate floor the week of Sept. 20.

Of course, Sen. John McCain might have something to say about it, having threatened to filibuster the defense budget bill a few moths ago if it included DADT repeal.

Despite McCain’s threat, Sen. Reid is pushing ahead and apparently willing to make it a campaign issue in his home state of Nevada. Here’s the text of an email he apparently sent to his campaign list:

Senator Reid has reiterated his commitment to repealing the military’s ban on gays serving in our armed forces. This afternoon, he informed Republicans that he intends to bring the Defense Authorization Bill–including a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy–to the Senate Floor next week.

This would overturn the decade-old policy that bars openly gay, lesbian or bisexual Americans from serving in our armed forces, and is an important step towards equal treatment of all Americans.

Senator Reid believes that Americans should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country just because of their sexual orientation. Please visit our website for more information. Voice your support for repealing DADT by signing up online to support Harry Reid.

Megan Jones
Friends for Harry Reid

Alex Nicholson from Servicemembers United had this to say:

“We are both pleased and relieved that Senator Reid has decided to schedule the defense authorization bill for floor time next week,” said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United.

“We are fairly confident that we will have the 60 votes to break a filibuster of this bill. It would be shameful for lawmakers to vote to hold up an important and expansive piece of legislation like the defense authorization bill simply because of their opposition to one or two provisions within it,” Nicholson said.

Here are some more links to the coverage of this from CNN, New York Times and ABC News.

UPDATE: Kerry Eleveld does a preliminary whip count on votes for The Advocate:

Although some Democratic senators such as Jim Webb of Virginia might break with their party and support the filibuster, other Republican senators could help compensate for the deficit.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana has already indicated he would not support a filibuster; Senator Susan Collins of Maine voted for the repeal measure in the Senate Armed Services Committee and is a good candidate to also break with her party. Other GOP Senators who might vote to break the filibuster include senators Olympia Snowe of Maine and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

Nicholson noted that no Democratic senator has given a strong indication to date that they would join a Republican filibuster.

58 Comments September 13, 2010

Lady Gaga brings Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to MTV Video Music Awards

(Cross-posted to LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

LadyGaGa_VMASuperstar Lady Gaga won eight awards at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. But for many LGBT fans, her greatest win was following through on her promise to make LGBT equality one of the priority fights of her life and career. She transformed her website into an action page to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and appeared on the red carpet with service members impacted by DADT – former U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Hall, former Air Force Major Mike Almy, and former U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Stacy Vasquez, who were discharged under the policy, and former West Point cadet Katie Miller, who resigned last month in protest of the policy.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis told the Washington Post that Gaga’s move “casts a spotlight on the unjust burden that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ imposes upon the brave men and women who defend our country every day, and further underscores why the Senate must swiftly act to get rid of this despicable law for good.”

Gaga also announced her own arrival (seen here in a photo by Terry Richardson) on Twitter: “Silks, fabrics, shoes + jewels, fashion dreams + breaking rules. Real heroes on my arm, tonight, is for us monsters, and our fight. X.”

This from SLDN: A U.S. Soldier in Balad, Iraq watches Lady Gaga on MTV, calls the Senate switchboard, and writes a thank you note: – “Thank you Lady Gaga! I called my Senators from Iraq…it took all of three minutes (one minute was dedicated to all the numbers I had to push on the telephone). Let’s keep the pressure up!”

This week is critical to move on the bill to repeal DADT, which is in the Defense Appropriations bill.

Here’s a reminder of Lady Gaga’s commitment, her speech at the Oct. 11, 2009 National Equality March in Washington. Her scream to President Obama is something many others are screaming now.]


The Courage Campaign also has a petition letter from Lt. Dan Choi to Sen. Harry Reid that you can sign here.

59 Comments September 13, 2010

The “Witt Standard”: Former Major Margaret Witt’s DADT trial resumes Monday

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

Margaret WittFormer Air Force Major Margaret Witt made national headlines recently when Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan discussed the significance of the “Witt Standard” during her confirmation hearings. The “Witt Standard” was also peppered throughout Judge Virginia Phillips’ decision Thursday declaring Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional in the federal lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

On Monday, Sept. 13, the lesbian for whom the “Witt Standard” was named will be back in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington court as the decorated U.S. Air Force flight nurse continues to challenge her discharge under DADT. Witt is seeking re-instatement. The trial is expected to last seven days.

Scheduled to testify on Thursday is DADT expert Nathaniel Frank, author of “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America.” Frank was also an expert witness in the Log Cabin Republican’s case before Judge Phillips. In an email to me Thursday night, Frank said this about Phillip’s ruling:

“This judge looked at an enormous amount of factual evidence about this case–over 400 pages of carefully documented data presented by the LCR lawyers, White & Case. And she found that, as many have been saying for years, the policy serves no legitimate governmental purpose, and in fact it is harmful to the military and our troops. This is the most powerful statement yet that DADT is unconstitutional, as well as bad law, and that our country has moved well beyond it.”

White House spokesperson Shin Inouye told LGBT POV:

“The Justice Department is studying the [Phillips] decision, including the question of its scope and immediate effect and we expect them to announce their next steps after that review is completed. The President remains committed to legislative repeal of DADT, and he will continue to work with lawmakers to achieve that goal this fall. And he will continue to work closely with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an ongoing study of how to best implement the repeal.”

The Witt case goes back to trial just as the Senate goes back to work – and presumably takes up the Defense Authorization Bill with DADT repeal legislation included. Hopefully the Witt and LCR cases will add momentum to what appears to be inevitable and not cost taxpayers any more in the Justice Department racking up unnecessary court costs.

Here’s a 2008 interview with Witt by station KXLY:

Witt has some hypothetical, post hoc rationalization in general, but whether a justification exists for the application of the policy as applied to Major Witt.”

The military has provided no evidence that her sexual orientation or conduct has caused a problem in the performance of her military duties. To the contrary, the ACLU has submitted declarations from military colleagues testifying that her forced absence is harmful to her unit’s morale.

Representing Major Witt are ACLU-WA Legal Director Sarah Dunne and Sher Kung, a Perkins Coie Fellow, and ACLU-WA cooperating attorneys James Lobsenz of Carney Badley Spellman and Aaron Caplan of Loyola Law School. In a previous ACLU case, Lobsenz represented Army Sgt. Perry Watkins, who challenged his dismissal from the military for being gay. In 1989, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that, as a matter of fairness, the Army could not discharge Watkins.


97 Comments September 12, 2010

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