UPDATED: Bill to repeal DADT passes Senate, goes to Obama for signature.
The AP is reporting that the Senate has voted to advance the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) military policy barring gays serving openly in the military, for a vote this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. EST. Our new Senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk, joined a handful of other Republicans in voting to advance the measure to the Senate floor for a vote. One would anticipate that after much prevarication on Kirk's part, he will now vote in favor of repealing the DADT policy, in the wake of the report from the military which concluded that allowing openly gay service members would not significantly affect military effectiveness. Notably, Kirk broke with John McCain, who led the opposition to repeal. More from Politico here.
Here is Senator Kirk's statement (h/t Illinois Review):
Senator Kirk Statement in Favor of S. 4023, the Collins-Lieberman Bill:
"Over the last several months, I urged Congress to wait for the considered judgment of our uniformed military through the Joint Chiefs of Staff's report before changing the policy. If we are to eliminate one military personnel policy, we must have a new one that is easily understood to guide the First Sergeants and Navy Chiefs who really run our squadrons, squads and ships.
I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete. The legislation before us provides our military leaders with the time they requested to change the policy. Without this legislation, Admiral Roughead warned that courts, like California's federal courts, would issue further confusing stop and start orders to our military, causing chaos in our military recruitment and retention programs. In the end, the Constitution charges the Congress with setting military policy and the Executive branch with implementing it. The legislation containing the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will remove the various orders of conflicting and uncertain court litigation from our military, allowing uniformed leaders to once again effectively manage our national defense. As a 21-year Navy Reserve officer, I believe it is important for military leaders, not federal judges, to run our armed forces."
Kirk Scorecard: For those who seem obsessed on both sides of the aisle with keeping track of whether Kirk will toe the party line or break with the GOP, Kirk voted today against the DREAM act, which was sponored by the 'other' Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, and which bill failed to pass.