U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) told the Blade last week that he isn’t concerned about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language in the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill and wouldn’t support an effort to rid the legislation of the provision. Asked whether he would support a substitute amendment or a motion to strike, Lugar replied, “No. I would just leave it as it is.”
Lugar said he would “presume” that he would vote against any filibuster of the defense bill as a whole, but expressed concern about the legislation being used as a vehicle for other costly programs unrelated to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “The defense bill, as it stands, seems to me to be a good piece of legislation, but I think the issue was the additions that were not paid for in various other ways,” Lugar said.
The filibuster threat was initially levied by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) but was apparently withdrawn in favor of a so-called poison pill amendment that would require all of the service chiefs — rather than just Gates, Mullen, and Obama — to authorize the Pentagon’s review of the DADT policy. McCain’s spokesperson admitted that the Senator is “not filibustering the bill,” but refused to say if he would offer an amendment to strike the repeal. “I think it’s a bit early. Sen. McCain is still deciding on the amendments he plans to introduce.” Last month, however, McCain complained that the certification process it excluded all of the service chiefs, some of whom have written to him to register their opposition to overturning the policy. “It does not include the four service chiefs….it does not sir. I’ll show it to you in writing,” he said at a town hall meeting. Substituting or striking the DADT amendment would require 51 votes, while a filibuster would only call for 41.
Meanwhile, today, the Pentagon began emailing troops a survey of more than 100 questions seeking their views on the impact of repealing DADT. The survey will be sent to 200,000 active duty troops and ask “about such issues as how unit morale or readiness might be affected if a commander is believed to be gay or lesbian; the need to maintain personal standards of conduct; and how repeal might affect willingness to serve in the military.” In total, more than 400,000 troops will receive the survey. The answers will kept confidential, however, leading some to worry if troops will use it as an opportunity to bash their gay colleagues.
Significantly, foreign militaries that allow gays to serve openly in their forces — like those of Great Britain, Canada, and Israel — have completely integrated their forces and have not constructed separate housing, shower, or other common-use facilities for gay and lesbian service members.