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09/21/2010

I'm still busy vomiting. Here, read some #DADT releases

by Jeremy Hooper
SLDN Statement on the U.S. Senate’s Failure to Break Filibuster and Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), issued a statement today after the U.S. Senate failed to break a filibuster on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains the repeal of DADT. To move forward on debate of the bill, 60 votes were needed to break a filibuster by U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Statement by Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“Today’s Senate vote was a frustrating blow to repeal this horrible law. We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. Let’s be clear: Opponents to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ did not have the votes to strike those provisions from the bill. Instead, they had the votes for delay. Time is the enemy here. We now have no choice but to look to the lame duck session where we’ll have a slim shot. The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network will continue to take this fight to the American people, the vast majority of whom support repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

“Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (www.sldn.org) is a national, non-profit legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” A journalists’ guide is available here.

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Cloture Vote Fails on Motion to Proceed with National Defense Authorization Act
NDAA and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) Repeal Provision Blocked from Proceeding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
09/21/2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, expressed deep disappointment today with the failure of Senate leadership and moderate Republicans to reach an agreement that would have succeeded in breaking the filibuster on the motion to proceed on the defense authorization bill. This year's defense authorization bill contains a provision that would finally enable the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

"Today's vote is a failure of leadership on the part of those who have been duly elected to serve this nation and to put the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics," said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "The Senate could learn a good lesson from those who serve in uniform and who stand to benefit from proceeding to debate on this bill - serving this country means putting politics aside and getting the job done. It is simply inexcusable that this vote failed today."

The votes to break the filibuster had previously been lined up, but last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to use an uncommon procedural privilege on the bill that eroded support for breaking the filibuster and guaranteed the vote's failure. Intense lobbying and public pressure over the past week proved not to be enough to force either side to back down. The Senate will not likely take up the defense authorization bill again until after the mid-term elections in November.

For more information about Servicemembers United and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," please visit www.ServicemembersUnited.org.

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HRC Calls on Justice Department Not to Appeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Court Case in Wake of Senate Loss

WASHINGTON – Today our military readiness and national security were set back as Senator John McCain successfully led a Republican filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to which the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is attached. Not since 1948 has Congress failed to act on the NDAA. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to bringing the bill back up following the election.

“This filibuster was election year politics at its worst,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It’s a shame that during a time of war, Senators wouldn’t even allow debate on the bill that provides a pay raise for our troops.”

In its continuing efforts to end the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members, HRC today released a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on him not to appeal a recent court decision ruling DADT unconstitutional. The case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Additionally, HRC called on its members and supporters to petition Holder to decline to appeal the case.

“We still have a fighting chance to repeal DADT through Congressional action but in the meantime, the best interests of our men and women in uniform – as well as the country – are served by doing everything we can do to get rid of this discriminatory law,” added Solmonese. “We expect the Justice Department to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional.”

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support repealing DADT according to a recent CNN poll. President Obama and military leadership, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen also support repeal. Under the language in the NDAA, implementation of repeal would not occur until after the completion of the Pentagon Working Group study due December 1 of this year and upon certification.

Text of Letter to Attorney General Holder from the Human Rights Campaign:

September 21, 2010

Dear Attorney General Holder:

On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), I respectfully write to request that the Department of Justice (DOJ) refrain from appealing the federal district court decision in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, which declares the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law unconstitutional based on the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and free speech.

After gathering significant evidence, including testimony by six discharged service members and seven expert witnesses, the decision states that DADT does not further the government’s interest in military readiness or unit cohesion. In addition, the decision acknowledges that the military is discharging qualified service members, including those with skills critical for the military’s success, during a time of troop shortages. Since the DADT law was passed in 1993, over 14,000 service members have been discharged because of DADT, nearly 1,000 of whom were specialists with vital mission critical skills. This discriminatory law hurts military readiness and our national security while putting American service members fighting overseas at risk.

While enactment of DADT was originally based on the mistaken premise that openly lesbian and gay service members would weaken our national security by hurting military readiness and unit cohesion, the President has acknowledged that this premise is false. On June 29, 2009, President Obama declared, “reversing this policy [is] the right thing to do [and] is essential for national security.” In addition to the President’s acknowledgement that repealing DADT is “essential for national security,” the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have also recognized that the discriminatory DADT law should be repealed. The leaders of our nation’s armed forces understand that DADT serves no purpose in the laws of our nation; it is time for the DOJ to stop defending this law.

We understand that the DOJ is currently evaluating whether to appeal this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The facts presented in the case add to the ever-growing list of evidence illustrating that Congress lacked even a rational basis for enacting DADT. Based on the mounting evidence, we urge the DOJ to refrain from appealing the case to the Ninth Circuit.

This decision affirms what the vast majority of the American people know to be true – that it’s time for DADT to be sent to the dustbin of history. We appreciate the Administration’s support of the legislative efforts to repeal DADT, but we expect the DOJ to recognize the overwhelming evidence that proves DADT is unconstitutional. Thank you for your attention this matter. We look forward to a day when DADT no longer exists in our nation’s laws.

Sincerely,

Joe Solmonese, President
Human Rights Campaign

***

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2010

Courage Campaign Blasts Senate GOP for Filibuster of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal

Joins Human Rights Campaign in calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to not appeal recent court decision ruling DADT unconstitutional

LOS ANGELES -- Today, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked a cloture vote on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Among other things, NDAA would fund the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and repeal the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which has led to the discharge of more than 14,000 qualified service men and women at a cost of more than $1.3 billion, and was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court on September 9th.

The legislation also includes the "DREAM Act," which allows the children of undocumented workers to qualify for a conditional path to citizenship by completing a college degree or committing to two years of military service.

In response, Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs has issued the following statement:

"Today a small minority of 'conservative' U.S. Senators put partisan politics ahead of the lives and careers of our military men and women by blocking consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation includes a repeal of the military's failed "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, funding for our nation's military, including those in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and incentives for military service and academic achievement in the DREAM Act.

Three quarters of Americans support elimination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because it is unconstitutional, un-American, and un-safe. We had a vote today because millions of Americans made their voices heard, and we will continue to keep the pressure on until this policy is relegated to the dustbin of history where it belongs. This is not a matter of right and left, it's about right and wrong.

The disappointing message that Senate Republicans and the extremists vying to join them in November delivered today is that supporting our troops -- like creating jobs, cutting taxes for the middle class and building a 21st century workforce -- are simply NOT priorities in their America.

That's why we are also joining the Human Rights Campaign in calling on the Department of Justice to recognize the injustice of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and honor the service of these soldiers by not filing an appeal of the September 9th ruling by a federal judge that found this policy to be unconstitutional. We applaud the Log Cabin Republicans for initiating this case and we hope the Justice Department recognizes that it's time to consign this discriminatory law to the dustbin of history."

On Monday, prior to the cloture vote, the Courage Campaign delivered 557,293 signatures from members across America calling for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to targeted Senators who were previously uncommitted on breaking the filibuster: Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Jim Webb (D-VA), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Kit Bond (R-MO).

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Senate vote to end filibuster of National Defense Authorization Act falls short, blocking action on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and DREAM Act

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responded to the Senate's failure to end a filibuster of the National Defense Authorization Act, blocking action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the DREAM Act.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Once again, politicians are playing politics with people's lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and the DREAM Act — two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness — is a disappointment and disservice to our country. Seventy-eight percent of Americans support ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and countless others believe that young people should be provided a path to citizenship in the country they love and have always called home. Today's Senate vote mocks those ideals. The senators who led and supported the filibuster effort should be ashamed."

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit www.theTaskForce.org (http://www.theTaskForce.org) and follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce (http://www.twitter.com/thetaskforce).

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