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The Defense Authorization Bill, which includes the repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, will be up for Senate debate next week. The Bill also includes proposed funding for upcoming military operations.
The "don't ask, don't tell" policy (DADT policy) bans openly gay men and women from disclosing his or her sexual orientation while serving in the U.S. military. The policy has been in effect since 1993 (with harsher variations of the ban in effect for years prior) and has seen 12,500 gay men and women booted from armed services as a result. CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is leading the charge to remove the DADT policy, taking the position that Americans should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country just because of their sexual orientation.
At issue here is whether proponents of the repeal will be able to successfully garner the sixty votes necessary to break a potential filibuster on the bill. Opponents of the repeal, notably Senator John McCain, believe the DADT policy is necessary to ensure military unit cohesion and morale. Alexander Nicholson, founder and Director of Service Members United believes the Defense Authorization Bill will make it to the Senate floor: "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."
In related news, a California federal judge ruled last week that the DADT policy was unconstitutional in Log Cabin Republican v. United States. The decision, which found the policy in violation of a gay military member's right to free speech, due process, and open association may play a role in the upcoming vote.
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