When he was running for Senate, Mark Kirk (R-IL) — a Naval Reserve officer — said that he had not served alongside any gay servicemembers during his 21-years in the military, but suggested that he may be open to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if the Pentagon’s Working Group study showed that reversing the ban would have no adverse consequences. But this morning — as he prepared for tonight’s swearing-in — Kirk hinted that he would not support ending the ban during the lame-duck session of Congress:
KIRK ON FNC: Well, they’ll probably do an omnibus spending bill and I hope that we complete our actions to ban all earmarks. Then, this Congress should go home. The current majority has lost the election and I think we should reserve the big decisions to the new Congress because they have a new mandate from the American people.
KIRK ON MSNBC: Then there is the question of, what is the proper role of the lame-duck Congress? We have dozens of Congressmen and Senators who are defeated by the American people. I think we should make a very limited set of decisions and then let the new Congress, that has a fresh mandate form the American people, take office and make the bigger decisions.
But given the GOP’s resistance in considering DADT in the new Congress, the next two weeks represent the best chance for repealing the policy and Kirk’s insistence on putting off the measure means that Democrats will now need the votes of two Republicans “to reach the 60-vote threshold” to move forward on the legislation.
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), who has held the seat, has been a strong proponent of repeal and voted against the ban in September.
Meanwhile, Joe Sudbay points out that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK), who was one of two Democrats along with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) to vote against repeal in September, is likely to do so again. Pryor told the Democrat-Gazette that “the armed services should deliberate a bit longer before making any policy changes.’ He also said he doesn’t want to be ‘judgmental,’ although ‘he said he considers homosexuality a sin.’”