Senator Joe Manchin Explains Vote On DADT Repeal, Is Booed At Rally
Freshman Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), the only Senate Democrat to vote against the repeal of DADT, explained why he voted the way he did on Thursday. According to him, it's all "an issue of timing."
"While I believe the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy will be repealed someday, and probably should be repealed in the near future, I do not support its repeal at this time," Manchin said in the statement. "I truly understand that my position will anger those who believe repeal should happen now and for that I sincerely apologize. While I am very sympathetic to those who passionately support the repeal, as a Senator of just three weeks, I have not had the opportunity to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."
Gay rights activists are fuming, and rightfully so. According to Politico, crowds booed at the mere mention of Manchin's name during a rally on Capital Hill yesterday. Some West Virginians who were in attendance gladly described their "viewpoints" to the Senator.
"I was disappointed yesterday in Senator Joe Manchin from the state of West Virginia,” said former Army Sgt. Pepe Johnson, a Clarksburg, W. Va., native who was discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. “I was embarrassed because Joe Manchin decided to be a lone ranger and vote against the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, saying he’d only been in office for three weeks, said he didn’t have a chance to hear from the people of West Virginia.
“Well, Joe Manchin, if you can’t hear me now, you better get a hearing aid.”
West Virginia Army National Guard Sgt. Jared Towner, 31, who served three tours of duty in Iraq and is straight, said continued opposition to repeal could cost Manchin the youth vote in two years.
“We are the people that are going to be there, or the people who are not going to be there in 2012” when Manchin faces reelection, said Towner, who lives in Parkersburg. “We fought valiantly for you, senator. We fought valiantly for you. And now it’s time for you to fight valiantly for us.”
As Andy reported yesterday, Joe Lieberman introduced a new bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" on Friday.
Read the Senator Manchin's full statement, AFTER THE JUMP.
Sen. Joe Manchin today released the following statement regarding his decision to not support the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy:
“While I believe the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy will be repealed someday, and probably should be repealed in the near future, I do not support its repeal at this time. I truly understand that my position will anger those who believe repeal should happen now and for that I sincerely apologize. While I am very sympathetic to those who passionately support the repeal, as a Senator of just three weeks, I have not had the opportunity to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia.
“I would like to make clear that my concern is not with the idea of repealing DADT, but rather an issue of timing. My concerns, as highlighted in the recent defense survey and through the testimony of the service chiefs, are with the effect implementation of the repeal would have on our front line combat troops at this time.
“Furthermore, while I may disagree with a repeal of DADT at this time, some believe that President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, if he so chooses, has the authority to suspend discharges under DADT, if he deems it a matter of national security. In fact, I asked this question during the second day of hearings on the repeal of DADT. If this is correct, and the President was to make such an order, while I may disagree with it, I would respect his authority as President to do so.”