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New York Daily News: Lieberman to introduce ‘don't ask, don't tell’ repeal bill in Senate

News release from Servicemembers United:

Announcement Continues Historic Momentum Toward Legislative Action in 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies, enthusiastically lauded today's news that Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) would soon be introducing a bill in the U.S. Senate to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. The revelation came by way of an interview given to James Kirchick for an article published overnight by the New York Daily News.

"This is yet another historic step for the movement to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law and a welcomed moment for the tens of thousands of men and women who continue to be impacted by this unnecessary and outdated law," said Alexander Nicholson, a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector who was discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the current Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "We are exceedingly proud of the courage and leadership that Senator Lieberman is showing, and we strongly urge the White House and the Democratic leadership in Congress to proactively support Senator Lieberman's forthcoming bill."

"I have been asked by both the White House and by advocacy groups within the gay rights community to be the lead sponsor, and I'm glad to do it," Lieberman is quoted as saying.

Last month, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that they now support repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law as long as the Pentagon could first do an implementation management analysis before full repeal goes into effect. Admiral Mullen also mentioned that he would like to see a subsequent transition period over which the policy change could be phased in.

In response to the opportunity presented by this historic testimony, Servicemembers United recently resurfaced its "Set End-date / Delayed Implementation" model for repeal legislation and made the case for the introduction and adoption of such legislation in 2010. The proposal would see to it that full repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law gets locked in this year while also allowing the Pentagon time to complete it's analysis.

To strengthen the prospects for the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and to reduce political risk, the President can still order the Pentagon to include "Set End-date / Delayed Implementation" repeal language in one of the legislative policy transmittals that will soon be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees by the Department of Defense. These policy proposal packages serve as indications of White House and Pentagon support for policy changes to be included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.

Additionally, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee could insert Senator Lieberman's new bill into the Chairman's mark of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which will soon be drafted. Such a move, especially in combination with the Presidential action through Pentagon policy transmittals, could turn out to be the path of least resistance for repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law and could help shield vulnerable members of the President's and the Chairman's own party.

Servicemembers United's "Set End-date / Delayed Implementation" repeal plan can be found at www.servicemembersunited.org/2010plan. For more information on Servicemembers United, please visit www.servicemembersunited.org. For the latest information on polling, statistics, studies, and other archival information related to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue, please visit www.dadtarchive.org.

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Servicemembers United, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, is the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans and their allies. Based in Washington, DC, Servicemembers United actively engages in education, advocacy, and lobbying on issues affecting the gay military, veteran, and defense community.

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