'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal In Lame-Duck Hands Earlier this year, the House approved a repeal of the law that prevents those who are gay from serving openly in the military. It was part of a larger defense bill, which stalled in the Senate. The lame-duck session of Congress starting Monday may be the last chance Democrats have to get it through.
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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal In Lame-Duck Hands

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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal In Lame-Duck Hands

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal In Lame-Duck Hands

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

As NPR's David Welna reports, the lame-duck session of Congress that begins Monday could spell the fate of efforts to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

DAVID WELNA: Ever since President Obama was running for the White House, he's vowed that Don't Ask, Don't Tell would end on his watch. It hasn't yet, of course. And last week, Mr. Obama looked to the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress to help him make good on his promise.

P: We need to provide certainty, and it's time for us to move this policy forward and this should not be a partisan issue.

WELNA: John McCain is the defense panel's top Republican. Here's what he said then.

BLOCK: I do not oppose or support the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell at this time. I do oppose taking legislative action prior to the completion of a real and thorough review of the law.

WELNA: That gives R. Clarke Cooper some hope. He's the director of the pro-repeal group Log Cabin Republicans. At President Obama's behest, Cooper has been urging GOP senators and their staffs to let the Defense Authorization Bill and its repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell come up for a vote, once the Pentagon study is released.

BLOCK: It'll enable them to come out and say, okay, I've been waiting for this study, I'm on record saying that I want to see this study done. And, you know what, sure enough, it checks the box. It actually reports what we thought it would say - open service is not an issue, so let's vote yes on repeal.

WELNA: Other senators fear the repeal could be taken out of the bill.

BLOCK: I'm very concerned it might be stripped. And I'll tell you why I'm concerned.

WELNA: That's Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, who's also on the Armed Services Committee. Udall says, despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates' call over the weekend for Don't Ask, Don't Tell to be repealed, it's not clear Republicans will let it come to a vote.

BLOCK: So I have joined with a number of other senators to call on the Senate leadership and others in the Senate, to open the floor of the Senate to debate the National Defense Authorization Act and the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell that's included in it.

WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol.

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