By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com February 07 2010 12:20 AM ET

Calling the recent “don’t ask, don’t tell” hearings an “important first step,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Saturday that she plans to introduce an amendment to ban funding for the enforcement of the policy.

Gillibrand made the announcement at the Human Rights Campaign gala dinner in New York City, where she delivered the keynote address to a core constituency of gay donors assembled at the Waldorf Astoria.

During the speech Gillibrand reviewed how she has championed ending the military ban since being appointed to the New York seat vacated by Hillary Clinton last year. Gillibrand, a Democrat, faces a potential primary challenge from Harold E. Ford Jr. this fall.

“I am leading this fight because I believe strongly that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a threat to the men and women in our armed services, and a threat to our national security,” she said.

Gillibrand reiterated the historic testimony of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” was the “right thing to do.”

“The hearing this week was a very important first step, but we have a lot of work of to do, and we will lift this dangerous, discriminatory, and damaging policy out of our government,” said Gillibrand.

“Tonight, I am announcing that I plan to introduce an amendment to the budget that will bar the use of funds for the enforcement of this policy,” she said.

The senator offered no further details about the amendment, turning immediately to discuss other “important fights” including repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and passage of a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The New York Times
broke news of the amendment announcement late Friday.

“Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal, which would be introduced as an amendment to the federal budget, would deny funding to the military for the costs of pursuing inquiries, dismissal proceedings and other procedures associated with enforcing the ban,” the Times reported.

The announcement from Gillibrand arrives as senators seem to diverge on how to proceed, with some appearing to favor full repeal of the military ban in 2010 while others prefer a moratorium on discharges. The debate ensues as the Department of Defense says it needs one year or more to review a policy change.