Defense bill, along with ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal and DREAM Act, fails in Senate

Wrapping up two controversial issues into the defense bill at a time when the Democratic leadership isn’t exactly at it’s strongest probably wasn’t the best strategy. The defense bill failed to get the 60 votes need for cloture by a vote of 56-43. Maybe Democrats thought that raising the specter of these social issues a few weeks ahead of the election might help at the polls, then again a lot of elements of the liberal base that supported repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in particular also seem somewhat demoralized right now:

“This issue doesn’t go away,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group providing legal assistance to troops impacted by the gay ban.

“The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us,” he said.

Other gay leaders struck a less optimistic tone, blaming the White House, Congressional Democrats and gay rights groups for not pushing for repeal of the policy sooner.

“The Democrats have been against ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ for more than a decade and why we allowed this law to remain in effect for another two years is beyond me,” said Richard Soccarides, a former gay rights adviser to President Bill Clinton. “I think we as a gay community all bear a significant share of responsibility for not insisting that the unconstitutional and discriminatory policy not be ended right away.”

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