Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Reid Supports End of DADT

In a welcomed but somewhat surprising move, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated - when asked about a proposed amendment to the Department of Defense reauthorization bill introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to suspend the discharge of gay and lesbian service members under DADT for 18 months - that he wants the moratorium to be permanent. Whether or not this statement will translate into real action, of course, remains to be seen, but is in sharp contrast to other mumblings that no one in Congress is in a hurry to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I for one do not trust the Congressional Democrats to actually do what they say, but remain willing to be convinced that I'm wrong. Here are some highlights from the Washington Blade:
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today announced support for a legislative moratorium on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that would prevent further discharges of gay service members for 18 months. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is considering the introduction of an amendment to that effect for the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill, according to her office. The defense bill is being debated this week on the Senate floor.
Reid declared his support for the amendment when asked about it by the Blade at a news conference Tuesday. “If Kirsten offers this amendment, I will support it,” Reid said. He continued: “I would support that. My only difference I would have is I would make it permanent.” Reid added, “We’re having trouble getting people into the military” and potential enlistees shouldn’t be turned down, and not “certainly based on sexual orientation.”
The full response from Sen. Reid follows: I feel on this issue that we’re having trouble, we’re having trouble getting people into the military and I think that we shouldn’t turn down anybody that’s willing to fight for our country — certainly based on sexual orientation. I feel strongly that — I support the president. I support the members of the Joint Chiefs who have not spoken out publicly. If Kirsten offers this amendment I will support it, at least as far as I understand it. What you’ve just told me, it would basically change the current policy for 18 months, is that right? I would support that. My only difference I would have is I would make it permanent.”

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