Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell "repeal" compromise advances in Senate committee, full House

On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House of Representatives advanced the compromise measure toward the eventual repeal of the military's 17-year-old Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that bars gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from serving openly in the military.

Tennessee's congressional delegation doesn't appear to have played a significant role in the proceedings in either body. Neither senator from Tennessee is on the Armed Services Committee. Congressman Zach Wamp rose briefly for a parliamentary question about adding time for debate. His smirk betrayed the move as an effort at delay. The House roll call is not available yet. UPDATE: Now the votes are available. AYE = Cohen, Cooper, and Gordon. NO = Blackburn, Davis, Duncan, Roe, Tanner, and Wamp.

The amendment is not what the GLBT community had hoped for or called for. It does not stop discharges of servicemembers. It provides no comprehensive non-discrimination policy. It doesn't even guarantee a repeal at the end of the Pentagon study. But it is the path to repeal that was available in this Congress. It is also a path that GLBT servicemembers' groups got behind. So, as with much legislation, most of the community held their noses, supported it, and worked for passage.

There are still a few steps left in passage of the bill carrying the amendment, but there is reason for optimism that it will pass and the process of real repeal can begin. Tonight is not a victory, but it is another chance.

-Chris Sanders

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