BY Kerry Eleveld

March 03 2010 7:25 AM ET

The bill's original cosponsors include Democratic senators Levin, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of California, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Dianne Feinstein of California.

Conspicuously absent is any GOP support for the bill. Lieberman said he
had spoken with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a longtime ally of his and
a consistent supporter of pro-equality legislation. Collins cosponsors
both an LGBT employment nondiscrimination bill and legislation that
would provide benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

A
spokesperson for Collins said the senator would first like to see “a
thorough review” of the law that takes into account the demands of the
military and the challenges of instituting policy changes during
wartime.

“The Department of Defense is in the process of
reviewing the issues associated with implementing a repeal and Senator
Collins looks forward to the results of this review,” said Kevin Kelley.

But Lieberman added that Collins is not the only Republican who might cosponsor the legislation.

“I
think there are a couple of others who are looking at it seriously, and
I hope once we pick up one or two of them maybe there will be some
more,” he said. “In my opinion, this is non-ideological. In some sense,
it’s libertarian, in the sense that it’s freedom — it’s giving people
the right to serve their country. So this seems to be quite a
consistent thing for the party of Abraham Lincoln.”

The House’s companion legislation, the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, now has 189 cosponsors. Democratic aides say the chief sponsor, Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, has about two dozen more verbal commitments from members who have said they would vote for the bill, putting the bill close to the 218 necessary for passage.









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