WASHINGTON – Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement urging the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.
“The Senate should act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense bill for forty-eight consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now, especially while our nation is at war. We must also act to put an end to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that not only discriminates against but also dishonors the service of gay and lesbian service members.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is essential to the safety and well-being of our service members and their families, as well as for the success of military operations around the world. The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.
“The process established by the defense bill would also allow ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed in an orderly manner, and only after the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have certified to Congress that repeal is ‘consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.’ If Congress does not act to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation’s military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts. It is important that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill.
“We are pleased that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also called on Congress to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We must act upon our responsibility to our troops and their family members and to the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who serve their nation bravely and honorably by passing the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year.”