Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Senators are both reviewing a Pentagon report unveiled Tuesday on the effects of repealing the law banning gays in the military. It concludes that getting rid of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” presents little risk to the troops’ ability to carry out missions, and says 70 percent of service members surveyed believe it would have little or no effect on their units.
It’s up to the Senate whether or not to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as part of the Defense Authorization bill. Senator Mark Begich supports getting rid of the anti-gay policy, and points to American allies in Iraq and Afghanistan who do not have such policies and have not had problems, either in their own ranks or when working with U.S. troops. He says it’s time to move forward.
Begich sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will take testimony on the study Thursday from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and top military leaders.
Republicans are largely against repeal. But Senator Lisa Murkowski could be a possible swing vote; she’s said she wanted to wait for the study’s results and make sure repeal wouldn’t hurt troop morale and recruitment. Tuesday evening Murkowski hadn’t yet had a chance to scrutinize the newly released report, but said her top military staffer was reading it, and she plans to dig into it.
Murkowski has said Democrats should not rush passage of the Defense Authorization bill and its repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” She’s calling for deliberations on the Senate floor; but the Lame Duck session must wrap up by the end of the year and there’s much on the agenda.
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