In a blow to gay rights advocates, the Senate failed to move toward repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces. As The New York Times' David Herszenhorn explains:
Senate Republicans voted unanimously to block debate on the bill -- the huge, annual authorization of military programs -- after the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would attach a number of the Democrats' election-year priorities to it while also moving to limit the amendments offered by Republicans.
This was widely seen as gay rights advocates' best opportunity to repeal the law in the foreseeable future. Here's where the issue moves to next:
Prospects Don't Look Good, writes Politico: "Gay rights advocates said the Senate vote virtually extinguished the prospect for repeal of the 'don't ask' policy in this Congress. Time will be short in a lame-duck session after the election and some senators may be reluctant to take up significant legislation. With most analysts predicting that Democrats could lose control of the House and possibly the Senate, repeal seems unlikely in the next Congress as well."
There May Still Be a Chance, writes Ed O'Keefe at The Washington Post: "Gay rights advocates vowed to keep pressure on the Senate, with some believing they will have enough votes to end the ban if senators votes on the compromise in December. Several moderate Republicans have said they would vote to end 'don't ask, don't tell' only after they review a Pentagon study of how repealing the ban might impact troop readiness and morale. The study is due to President Obama and senior military leaders on Dec. 1."
All Eyes on California Now, writes Ashby Jones at The Wall Street Journal:
Followers of the issue will now turn their attention back to California, the site of an ongoing court battle concerning the constitutionality of the law. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Riverside, Calif., ruled that the law violated service members' First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights.
In connection with her ruling, federal judge Virginia Phillips asked the plaintiffs in the case to draft a proposed injunction, to be followed a week later by the defendants' draft. The plaintiffs, the Log Cabin Republicans, filed their draft last week; the Justice Department's draft is due this week.
In its filing, the Log Cabin Republicans asked the to permanently and immediately ban defense agencies from enforcing the law. It's unclear how the DOJ is going to respond.
Both Parties Should Be Ashamed, writes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway: "There's election year politics going on over this issue on both sides of the aisle, of course. After all, the Democrats could, and should, have kept the immigration bill separate from a bill dealing with the budget for the Department of Defense. Republicans, on the other hand, are resting their opposition to proceeding forward on repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the phony issue of a Joint Chiefs of Staff study that is concerned not with whether to repeal the rule, but how that repeal will be implemented once it becomes law. Considering that the language of the repeal specifically says it doesn't go into effect until after the study is completed, the objections of Senators like John McCain on that ground are entirely without merit."