Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced Monday that he plans to introduce legislation to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity,” Lieberman said in a statement, noting that he has opposed the policy since it was implemented in 1993 under President Bill Clinton.
“To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause,” Lieberman said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month and announced plans for a rollback of the controversial policy. During that hearing, Mullen told lawmakers: “Speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”
But the Defense Department’s timeline for a repeal was too long for some advocates, who have repeatedly called on Congress to take legislative action. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) had been working to line up Republican co-sponsors in the hope of introducing legislation, but Lieberman’s move makes the chance for bipartisan support more likely. Lieberman chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. His relationship with the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), could help bring her on board as a co-sponsor.