The chief sponsor of
the legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," Rep.
Ellen Tauscher (pictured), announced Wednesday that she will be
resigning her congressional seat to take a post at the State
Department, leaving the bill in flux.
immediately began floating the names of people who might make a
good choice to take over sponsorship of the bill, but Larry
Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American
Progress, said the first consideration is really how long her
confirmation will take.
"As we've seen, it
takes a long time," he says, adding that the process of
vetting and confirming Obama administration nominees
has "sort of ground to a halt" after some of the initial
issues with people's tax returns.
A spokesperson at
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies to
end the ban on gays serving openly in the military, said the
organization was "in the process of looking at several strong
champions in the House who can step in and take the lead,"
but they declined to name names.
Rep. Susan Davis
of California has turned up as a person of interest among some
Washington insiders. Davis chairs the Military Personnel
Subcommittee, where the bill is currently being held -- the
same post once held by the Military Readiness Enhancement Act's
original sponsor, former Congressman Marty Meehan of
is probably the strongest and most logical choice to shepherd
the bill on the House side," says Steve Ralls, who worked on
the issue for eight years at SLDN. "She has enormous
credibility with the armed forces, and she is someone that
military leaders in her district and across the country look to
to lead on issues like this in the Congress."
Korb suggested that
someone like Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania might also
make a good choice. "If you have someone like Congressman
Murphy, who has a lot of military experience and is an Iraq
veteran -- someone who can say, 'Look, I was out there in the
field and this was not an issue,' -- that's what you would like
to see." Murphy made a particularly strong showing of support
for repeal of the policy during the first hearings on the issue
hosted by Representative Tauscher last year, but he was elected
in 2006 and is still relatively new to Congress.
Perhaps an even greater
wild-card question is who's going to carry the bill in the
The Boston Globe
reported last month that Sen. Edward Kennedy planned
on sponsoring the bill and was looking for a Republican
cosponsor before introducing it. Though Kennedy sits on the
Senate Armed Services Committee and has long been a champion of
LGBT equality, it's not clear how his ailing health might
affect his leadership on this issue. Kennedy was diagnosed with
a malignant brain tumor after suffering seizures last