In a floor speech on Thursday, Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, denounced the policy that requires gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to keep their sexual orientation secret if they want to serve in the armed forces.
Mr. Frank noted that the Israeli military, which he called “as effective a fighting force as has existed in modern times” does not bar gay men or lesbians from service. Mr. Frank, who is openly gay, also said that he would be criticized — rightly, he said — if he were to suggest that gay men and lesbians be exempted if a military draft were needed.
Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the No. 3 Republican, accused Democrats of trying to use the military “to advance a liberal social agenda” and demanded that Congress “put its priorities in order.”…
“The military is not a social experiment,” said Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, who said lifting the ban could encourage “overt” sexual behavior in the ranks.
The full floor vote in either chamber could come tomorrow or even tonight, and I honestly can’t wait. Not because I support repealing DADT (which I do) but because it’ll be fascinating to watch vulnerable Dems and Repubs struggle with how to vote on this in an election year. Oddly enough, The Hill finds that an awful lot of House Democrats really, really don’t want to talk about it. Although the Senate, as usual, is more interesting: Will Collins be the only Republican to risk the wrath of the base by defecting? If she is, then Reid’s got a problem because Webb’s in line to be the 41st vote for the GOP on a filibuster. Or maybe Webb will decide that he doesn’t want to antagonize the nutroots quite that much so he’ll vote for cloture but then vote no on the final bill. Which way does Blanche Lincoln vote, though? Probably yes in order to protect herself in the primary run-off in Arkansas, but that’ll be another liability for her in the general (if she survives).
While we wait, here are milbloggers JD Johannes and Uncle Jimbo from Blackfive telling Rachel Maddow last night why they support repeal. Exit question: Is this going to be another 217-216 vote in the House?
Update: The deal is sealed in the House. 234-194, with four Republicans voting yes. Charles Djou was one of them, which is a no-brainer given how blue his district is, but I’m waiting for the roll to see who the other three are. The fact that the vote wasn’t close is a sign of how comfortable centrist Dems felt with the polling.
Update: Still waiting for the roll, which should be available here once it’s up, but the names of the five (not four) GOP defectors are already being reported on Twitter: It’s Djou, Joe Cao (also from a deep blue district), Judy Biggert, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and … Ron Paul.
Update: A shrewd point from Ben Smith: “It’s worth pausing to note the degree to which military service has replaced marriage as the public focus of the gay rights movement, and what a canny strategic posture that has been. Gays and lesbians have now spent months demanding something that’s less a right than a burden or a duty — demanding to be able to service and, potentially, die for the country. It’s a fundamentally patriotic stance, and it will offer a moral high ground to the movement for equal treatment for same-sex couples on questions like immigration and marriage.”