ABC News John R. Parkinson reports:
Congress will take another swing at repealing the U.S. military "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy toward gays serving openly in the military.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, told reporters Tuesday that the House of Representatives will take up a free-standing bill to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as introduced today by Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who lost his bid for reelection in November.
Senate Democrats fell three votes short when they tried to insert a repeal of the policy in a larger defense policy bill earlier in December. It is not clear if a free-standing repeal can get the three extra votes Senators would need.
In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Hoyer said he spoke with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Tuesday and that Gates reiterated the importance of repealing DADT through legislation.
“Secretary Gates however has emphasized that he wants us to pass legislation so that this can be an orderly transition — a planned and thoughtful transition — and I agree with his comment and his desire,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer the bill considered in the House will closely resemble the Lieberman / Collins bill that is currently pending in the Senate.
“As Secretary Gates and others have stressed, it is critical that Congress pass this legislation, empowering the Defense Department to implement repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' itself, rather than have repeal imposed by the Courts,” Hoyer stated. “This discriminatory and harmful policy has weakened America’s security by depriving us of the work of tens of thousands of gay and lesbian troops who have served their country honorably. And it has severely compromised our Armed Forces’ core value of integrity.”
Following a review by the Department of Defense which found that the risk “to overall military effectiveness is low,” and that the widespread attitude by respondents to the survey said serving with openly gay service members “will not have a negative impact on their ability to conduct their military mission,” Murphy said that the “time to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has come.”
“Already, two dozen other nations, including Israel and Great Britain, allow their troops to serve openly with no detriment to unit cohesion. As an Army veteran of the Iraq War, I’m insulted by those who claim that our troops are somehow less professional or mission-capable than the troops of these foreign nations,” Murphy said. “I’m proud to stand with the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the majority of service members and the American public who all support repeal of this discriminatory policy that harms our national security and military readiness.”