Reid will bring up ‘don’t ask’ for vote
Debate in Senate at end of month
WASHINGTON — Senate majority leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he will call for a vote after Thanksgiving on legislation that would allow gays to serve openly in the military.
His announcement makes good on his preelection promise to resurrect legislation to repeal the 1993 law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.’’
But it remains far from certain whether the legislation will have enough votes to pass. Several leading Republicans, including Senator John McCain, oppose lifting the ban.
“We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so,’’ Reid said in a statement.
The legislation would allow gay troops to acknowledge publicly their sexual orientation for the first time. However, the repeal of the current law would take effect only after the president and his top military advisers certify that doing so would not hurt the military’s ability to fight.
The bill was considered a deal struck earlier this year between more liberal Democrats eager to change the law and the White House, under pressure by the Pentagon to give it more time to determine how to repeal the law without causing any backlash.
The provision is tucked into a broader defense policy bill that includes popular programs such as a pay raise for troops, which gay rights groups hoped would help its chances of passing.
A Pentagon study ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on gays in the military is likely to be released just days before the Senate vote.
A draft of the 370-page assessment has found that the ban could be lifted with little harm and that most troops don’t object to the change in personnel policy, according to officials familiar with its findings. But it also found that some troops had serious concerns with the repeal.