Lawmakers launch bill to end military gay ban
By Susan Cornwell and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pushing back against Pentagon opposition, lawmakers said on Wednesday they would forge ahead with legislation to lift restrictions on homosexuals in the armed forces before a year-long military review is completed.
Following President Barack Obama's call for ending the "don't ask don't tell" policy, the lawmakers said they would seek to repeal the law in coming months, or at least place a moratorium on discharges under the ban as an interim step.
"We're going for full repeal because that really is the solution we need to this problem. We're going to fight for as much support as we can get," said Senator Joe Lieberman as he and others introduced legislation to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he supports Obama's decision. But he and military leaders want Congress to hold off on lifting restrictions until the Pentagon completes a study to assess the impact of a repeal and the best way to implement the changes.
That review must be completed by December 1 under guidelines by Gates announced this week.
"Right now, we're not in a position to offer any advice to Congress on a legislative remedy to 'don't ask, don't tell' if they wanted to pursue one. We just don't know enough about the impact," said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary.
"So the secretary wants to take the next nine, 10 months and focus on figuring out the implications of a change in the law for our forces, for their families, for readiness, for recruiting, for retention, for all of the potential consequences of the change in the law."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, speaking at the news conference with Lieberman, said his committee could act as soon as May on Lieberman's legislation. Continued...