Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic bid to open debate on a defense authorization bill that would repeal "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT).
On Dec. 9, Senators voted 57-40 to discuss legislation that would eliminate the ban on openly gay individuals serving in the military. The bill needed 60 votes to be considered. The repeal of DADT is one part of a broad defense bill that would authorize $726 billion for military spending next year. GOP Senators recently said they would filibuster all legislation until a tax cut extension package and a Federal spending proposal were passed.
On Dec. 10, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that a failure to repeal DADT will leave the military vulnerable if the issue is challenged in court. A Federal judge in California ruled the law unconstitutional in October and ordered the military to lift the ban, which prompted some recruiters to process openly gay and lesbian applicants for enlistment. At the request of President Barack Obama's administration, a United States Circuit Court of Appeals rescinded the military's order to recruiters.
Gates believes that judicial procedures would create confusion among military personnel about enforcement of the ban, which is why he believes that Congress should act on the legislation. A report filed by the Pentagon earlier this month concluded that a repeal of DADT would not have adverse effects on military readiness.
According to a national opinion poll conducted by USA Network, one in four Americans believes that the country has gone too far in providing rights for homosexuals, while another 25 percent are satisfied with the policies as they currently stand.