Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and 11 other Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to replace the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law — which bars gay and lesbian service members from openly serving in the military — with a new nondiscrimination policy that “prohibits discrimination against service members on the basis of their sexual orientation.” The new legislation, called the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010, mirrors Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-PA) repeal bill in the House but goes several steps further, laying out a timeline for repeal and setting benchmarks for the Pentagon’s ongoing review of the policy.
Under the Senate bill, repeal would need to be fully implemented within 13 months of enactment:
– Day of enactment: discharges would have to stop.
– Within 270 days of the bill’s enactment: the Pentagon working group must make its final recommendations on implementing repeal (the bill calls for a formal report to be submitted to Congress).
– Within 60 days of the final report to Congress: the Department of Defense must provide revised regulations reflecting repeal.
– Within another 60 days: each military branch must provide revised regulations reflecting repeal.
The bill’s sponsors — Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Udall (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roland Burris (D-IL), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) — told the Advocate Magazine that they hope to include their repeal legislation in this year’s defense authorization act and remained confident that they would attract greater Republican support. “In my opinion, this is non-ideological. In some sense, it’s libertarian, in the sense that it’s freedom – it’s giving people the right to serve their country. So this seems to be quite a consistent thing for the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Lieberman said.
At a press conference unveiling the legislation, lawmakers admitted that they did not yet have 60 votes for a repeal, but promised to ” fight for as much support as we can get.” “If we cannot get the votes [for repeal] … we would then at our markup try to see if we can get enough votes to at least suspend the discharges during this period,” Levin said.