Efforts to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell failed to muster the 60 votes needed to end a Senate filibuster this afternoon. The vote was 57-40, and the only Republican to support the measure was Susan Collins of Maine.
With a Republican House coming into power in January, the chances of repealing the measure by congressional vote will evaporate for two years at a minimum, and probably longer, unless today’s vote is somehow reversed. And it’s hard to imagine how that might happen.
As Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned earlier, a congressional refusal to act could force the courts to intervene, a process that would add chaos and uncertainty to an already delicate process.
“History will hold these senators accountable and so will many of their constituents,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group pushing for repeal of the law, told the Washington Post. “There will be no place for these senators to hide. The Senate and the president must remain in session and in Washington to find another path for repeal to get done in the lame-duck.”
History will indeed hold these senators accountable, but I don’t imagine that’s much comfort to gay service members watching their own government refuse to acknowledge their basic right to exist and serve their country. This is not America’s finest hour, and unfortunately, we seem to be saying that pretty often these days.