Majority Leader Reid onboard with making proposed suspension of DADT… permanent

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Senate Majority Harry ReidOn Capitol Hill today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indicated that he supports NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposed legislation that would place an 18-month moratorium on discharging military personnel under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but wants to take it a step further.

“I would make it permanent,” he [Reid] added, suggesting that he would permanently suspend discharges. “We’re having trouble getting people into the military and I don’t think that we should turn down anybody that’s willing to fight for our country, certainly [not] based on sexual orientation.”

Reid’s comments gave a boost to an amendment that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is considering offering to the DOD legislation that would suspend investigations of soldiers suspected to be gay — thereby stopping discharges of soldiers under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — until the end of the 111th Congress.

A spokesman for Gillibrand said Monday that the New York Democrat “wholeheartedly supports” full repeal of the military’s gay ban. “This is one avenue she would consider pursuing if there is sufficient support,” said Matt Canter.

Senator Reid’s remarks from his news conference today:

While LGBT groups generally support a moratorium, they consider it a “long shot,” as it would require 60 votes to pass during the next two weeks.

“We are encouraging Senator Gillibrand to explore her options and to reach out to the other senators in the process,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization that lobbies for repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The Human Rights Campaign signaled cautious support for the idea. “HRC believes that this temporary repeal amendment should only be offered and voted on if we are confident that there are sufficient votes to advance the issue of permanent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” said HRC legislative director Allison Herwitt. “It is not yet clear that threshold can be achieved this week.”

Gillibrand’s legislation is expected to be introduced this week.

Post by ILO on 07/14/09 at 3:04 pm