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Byrd Backs ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal With Change

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) says he would support Democrat-backed language repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy if a 60-day buffer is added, CNN reported Wednesday night.

The language, which has the backing of the White House, is being offered as an amendment to the fiscal 2011 Defense authorization. The Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Byrd is a member, is scheduled to hold a markup on the authorization Thursday.

The 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law prohibits openly gay individuals from serving in the armed forces. Byrd wants to alter the amendment’s language to delay the repeal for 60 days after certification of a military review by President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I did not want to blindly assent to repealing this law without giving the Congress an opportunity to re-examine the concerns of our Armed Forces and the manner in which they are being addressed,” Byrd said.

Only one of the 16 Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, has come out publicly against the repeal, and adoption of the language by the committee is likely.

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