With just 12 days before Congress leaves for a month-long recess, two LGBT advocacy are pressuring the Senate to hold a vote on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in September. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) are urging supporters in 10 states to contact their representatives and “tell them to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and follow the lead of Chairman Carl Levin who will be managing the defense bill on the floor.” Levin had previously told supporters that he had hoped to vote on the defense authorization bill before the August break and later predicted that it would go to the floor last week.
The groups’ campaign, called Countdown 2010, hopes to “mobilize grassroots supporters of equality across the country through in-district meetings as well as a call-in and email campaign” and will also focus on passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the House:
HRC and SLDN’s efforts will be specifically focused on 10 states with key lawmakers whose votes on DADT repeal are critical: Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia. HRC will also engage the LGBT community and our allies in those states on ENDA in addition to on-the-ground work for ENDA in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Supporters of equality are encouraged to meet with Representatives and Senators while they are in their districts and states for the August Congressional recess.
To participate, individuals can sign up at countdown2010.hrc.org . There, they’ll find downloadable meeting toolkits, videos on in-district meetings and information on how to schedule a meeting and report back on how it went.
Advocates fear that pushing the vote past September, closer to “when the Pentagon’s working group study on implementation is due to be released,” would “provide an opening for detractors of repeal to scuttle support for the measure, whether through an overt effort to strip it from the bill or through a secondary amendment to broaden the certification requirement beyond the president, Defense secretary, and chairman of the Joint chiefs.”
Indeed, it’s still unclear if Democrats have enough votes to defeat a measure that would expand the certification process to chiefs who have publicly expressed support for the ban on open service. Yesterday, the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reported that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), widely considered a swing vote on the issue, said that she would support the existing DADT repeal amendment, but “wouldn’t commit to a position on a possible floor amendment that would strip the language from the bill.” Lincoln actually has a surprisingly positive record on LGBT issues. She did not register a vote on the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, supported DADT in 1993, but voted for the hate crimes bill 2009, and against cloture on a measure that would have prohibited individual states from recognizing marital status and/or legal benefits from any other unions other than that of a man and woman.
Last week at Netroots Nation, the group GetEqual stopped traffic to protest Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) failure to pass ENDA and Lt. Dan Choi presented Reid with his West Point ring, urging the Senator to repeal DADT.