UPDATE: Service members announce Senate sit-in.
At 12:15 pm ET Friday Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is announcing they are holding a sit-in in the Senate gallery until a 'DADT' repeal vote is taken. Senator Joseph Lieberman is planning to join them at the press conference.
Servicemembers United has also been actively lobbying (see end of post).
With more than 60 noted commitments to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the Senate, it appears that the only factor in the way right now is time, scheduling, and will. However, if 'DADT' is to be repealed legislatively, it must be done this year.
Senator Joe Lieberman appeared on MSNBC this afternoon and said that he believes 'DADT' repeal should be voted on this weekend, before any vote on the START treaty, because the treaty can be ratified next year.
At his press briefing this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that he doesn't know if he'll bring the bill up before Christmas, but promised a vote on 'DADT' and other measures before the end of the year.
"I'm not sure we can get that done now. I'd like to get it done, but I'm not sure we can."
It's unclear who would return after Christmas break for a vote. And the measure must be passed in the lame duck or repeal is toast legislatively.
Then later, in his press briefing, Robert Gibbs was unwilling to give an answer why Obama isn't using his position as a bully pulpit to get the measure passed. When pushed on it, Gibbs seemed to get defensive:
"Let’s be clear, we would not be at this point if it wasn’t for the President’s leadership in bringing this issue to the floor. You mentioned, I believe we have the votes….There is time to do this if there are those on the other side of the aisle that wish to get this done and it’s clear that whether it’s Senator Brown or Senator Murkowski or Senator Snowe or others, there is an effort to get this done if we have time to."
Finally, Joe Biden (See clip below) doesn't want to hear the Senate nonsense about Christmas! He was talking about the START treaty, but when is one of our leaders going to start making these demands about DADT?
In related news, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is still undecided about where he stands on the issue.
Active lobbying is being undertaken by Servicemembers United
Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, announced today that, for a second day in a row, teams of DADT repeal advocates have fanned out across Capitol Hill as part of the Servicemembers United Action Fund's "OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT." The campaign is geared toward raising visibility for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue on Capitol Hill in the waning days of the lame duck session and toward pressuring Senate offices that are supportive of repeal to also support staying in session long enough to let the issue get a final vote.
"Despite the ongoing snow storm in Washington, DC right now, gay veterans and allies are storming the Hill for a second day in a row to demand that the Senate finish the job on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' before leaving for the holidays," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the Servicemembers United Action Fund. "The fact that these advocates are braving the snow to fight for what they believe in should demonstrate that we will not accept any excuses from lawmakers for failing to get this done, including bad weather or time running out."
Repeal supporters will be on the Hill for one final day on Friday as part of this campaign. Those interested in joining OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT on Friday, December 17th from 1:00pm – 4:00pm should contact Jarrod Chlapowski at [email protected] today.
What you can do is contact your Senators, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and demand a vote on 'DADT' before the holidays.
The phone number for the switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Call today.
You can also sign Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's petition demanding the Senate pass repeal.