Six Senators Need to be Lobbied Heavily on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Much of the talk at Michelangelo Signorile's LGBT Leadership Town Hall this afternoon focused around getting six senators to move for repeal this year on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and support the addition of the repeal to the Department of Defense Authorization bill that is coming up at the beginning of May.

Dadt Those senators are:

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) (202) 224-5623
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) (202) 224-4543
Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) (202) 224-3954
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) (202) 224-6551
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (202) 224-5274
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) (202) 224-4024

DC Agenda's Chris Johnson just posted an enlightening article on where those senators stand, and the DADT situation overall. Here's a bit of it:

Many are saying they want to hear the results of the Pentagon study on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is due Dec. 1, before taking action. The mandate of the study, as established by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, is to examine how the U.S. armed services would implement open service should Congress repeal the ban.

One such senator waiting for the study results is Jim Webb (D-Va.). Asked by DC Agenda on Tuesday whether he favors repeal, Webb emphasized his support for the review currently underway. “I think what Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen proposed in terms of the study is very important,” Webb said. “We need to understand that. I support the approach that they’re taking. It’s responsible.” Pressed on how he would vote on an amendment during the defense authorization markup, Webb reiterated his support for the working group and replied, “I think we need to honor the process that Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen have put in motion.”

Holding a similar position is Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). In a statement, Nelson spokesperson Grant Schnell said the senator is interested in the results of the study. “Sen. Nelson’s inclined to support repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, but wants to see the study Secretary Gates announced of how this would impact the military,” Schnell said.

Also refraining from endorsing repeal was Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). In a statement, Bayh said he’s “committed to ensuring that our troops are treated with the respect they have earned through their selfless service” and that his personal belief is “those who are willing to take a bullet for their country ought to be able to serve it openly.” “However, President Obama is absolutely right to solicit the input and support of his top military commanders about the effects of repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” Bayh said. “I will make a final decision after receiving the input of our top commanders.”

The offices of Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) didn’t respond to DC Agenda’s request for comment.

More troubling is a willingness from Senator Carl Levin to toe the White house line: "Among those noticing a lack of support from the Obama administration to repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' at this time is Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Asked by DC Agenda on Tuesday what the White House and the Pentagon are saying they want from lawmakers on 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,' Levin replied, 'Let them complete the analysis.'"

This afternoon, at the Town Hall, Solmonese said he stood firm in his belief that DADT would be repealed this year, despite accusations from members of the panel and audience that he sold a bill of goods to the LGBT community when he knew the White House had no plans on delivering it.

Insisted Solmonese: "I still believe we're going to repeal DADT this year."

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), who was revealed to have been left out of high level meetings on DADT with the White House in which HRC was included, said he was committed to finding a way to get the repeal done while at the same time allowing the Pentagon to complete its study..

Said Sarvis: "I pledge to work with HRC to round up those six senators. It's unlikely that we will get a majority of those senators without the President speaking up. Let's find the path that brings the President to the table with the Pentagon."


  1. says

    It is well past time to introduce accountability to HRC. No DADT this year, as Solomnese is promising, NO SOLOMNESE!

    His job should be on the line on this one, because thus far he’s proven to be an epic failure. This has to be it for him.

  2. walter says

    hrc must do something now. they must make all those photo ops and cocktails payoff. hrc seems willing to let everything just plug along and on todays forum salomenese seemed as defensive as obama the other day.
    he is paid to get things done so now do it

  3. says

    Can anyone say distraction? If these six senators are truly the key, all it would take is ONE phone call to each of them from Obama and we would have the votes. Solmonese thinks that the better way to convince them is for thousands of us to call them. You know, people with no power or influence. What joe wants to do is set up a situation where he can can blame us for not trying hard enough instead of placing responsibility for failure directly where it blames: with himself and the Obama administration.

  4. TANK says

    Isn’t that infected twat evan bayh on his way out of office? I don’t think any amount of lobbying’s gonna make that POS see the light of day…unless it’s sold to him that he’d be fucking over obama if were to vote for it…but that’s a big stretch.

  5. 24play says

    Right, Gaylib. Because all it took to pass Healtcare reform was one call from President Obama to Blanche Lincoln, and Ben Nelson, and Joe Lieberman, and Bart Stupak, and . . .

    I’m afraid you overestimate the power of a president to influence individual members of Congress, particularly senators from states that did not vote for Obama in 2008 (West Virginia, Nebraska) or likely would not vote for Obama in if there were a presidential election this year (West Virginia, Nebraska, Virginia, Indiana).

    Unfortunately, with the possible exception of Scott Brown, most of the senators who are most susceptible to pressure from Obama are already on board for DADT repeal.

    Fortunately, Bayh is retiring and Byrd is undefeatable (should he live long enough to see the end of his current term in 2012). That makes both of their votes more gettable. Whether Obama has any leverage to help persuade them is debatable. Perhaps a cabinet post for Bayh? Unless it’s Agriculture, I think that cost is too much to bear.

    But what we really need to get DADT repeal passed this year is a strategy for which bill to attach it to.

    As for me, ENDA is a much higher priority.

  6. Mike says

    Andy, if that is really your take on what happened on the show and you actually tuned in and you’re not basing your post on hearsay, then I think you are possibly blinded by your dislike of HRC.

    I listened to all two hours of the uneventful show. Joe was actually the participant who focused in on moving forward. It was Joe who actually wanted to stress what needed to be done going forward.

    And it was later revealed that SLDN did have meetings with the White House. The activists in the audience who kept trying to corner Joe and get him to say he’d resign were blinded by their own agenda.

    I’m only thankful that one of the last panel members told the group that their anger was misguided. We’re all on the same page.

    And be honest Andy, it was Pam Spaulding who said Joe sold the community a bill of goods, that was her characterization. Based on her ow misguided opinion.

  7. says

    24play, repealing DADT is MUCH less controversial than the Health Care Bill. You’re comparing apples to oranges. Besides, how could it possibly hurt to have Obama call each of these senators? I’ll give them a call, why won’t he? The only reason I can think is that he DOES NOT want the bill passed. But that’s the elephant in the room really. When Obama said he would work with congress (you know, call them to encourage committee members to vote for it) to repeal the ban he was simply lying. No amount of spin can cover that up.

  8. says

    Yes I did listen to the whole two hours of the show, and I stand by what I’ve written, which I don’t believe represents the entire show, but is accurate. SLDN did have a meeting with the White House, however, it was not the top-level meeting on DADT that HRC had – which is odd because SLDN is the most plugged in on the DADT situation. The reason SLDN was not included in the top level meeting was because they had actually stood up to the White House. More here.

  9. Michael @ says

    I’m confused, Andy, by your word choice re Sen. Levin:

    “troubling is a willingness from Senator Carl Levin to toe the White house line”

    There is NOTHING in the passage you quote nor in the entire article to support “willingness…to toe the line.”
    He merely told the reporter what the “White House line” is.

    Levin was one of the few Dems to try to derail the ban becoming DADT in 1993. He was the one to bring up inserting repeal into the next defense authorization bill BEFORE “The Study” was completed during his committee’s hearing on Feb. 2nd and a freeze on discharges while “The Study” proceeded. To reporters immediately afterward, he said he thought the timeline Gates had presented was too slow, would take too long.

    Thank you.

  10. JoshIndy says

    I emailed the following to HRC after listening to The Path Forward. The next day (Friday), HRC responded with a boilerplate DADT reply without any mention of the SASC six Senator strategy. It doesn’t really seem like a priority for HRC.

    “Today on The Michelangelo Signorile Show, Joe Solmonese urged individuals and organizations to take action on the repeal of DADT by contacting six key Senators on the Senate Armed Service Committee. I heeded Mr. Solmonese’s call to action and visited your site to find more information about this strategy so that I could contact my Senator (Evan Bayh–SASC member). Unfortunately, your website does not mention this strategy–only the repeal of DADT through MREA (H.R. 1283/S. 3065). If HRC is sincere about this new SASC strategy, shouldn’t it be included on your website along with language that can be used in letters, emails, and phone calls? I believe it would be quite helpful for HRC members and also give credence to Mr. Solmonese’s public overtures about the repeal of DADT.

    I was disappointed and somewhat skeptical to find no information about this DADT repeal approach on the HRC site. When will the roll-out of this strategy occur? As you know, the door is closing on DADT during this Congress.”

  11. MichaelFJ says

    This seems to be another alarmist article by someone who lacks sources inside the White House and Pentagon. There are just as many indications that DADT just might be passed this year. The point: let’s be better reporters and let’s not needlessly embrace the knee-jerk anti-Obama sentiment that currently plagues the activist class of the gay rights movement.

  12. customartist says


    These are the Senators who will either Include Repeal, or the ones that Gays must Campaign Against come election time.

    Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) (202) 224-5623
    Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) (202) 224-4543
    Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) (202) 224-3954
    Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) (202) 224-6551
    Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (202) 224-5274
    Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) (202) 224-4024

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