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Report: Sen. Ben Nelson to Vote for Repeal

Report: Sen. Ben Nelson to Vote for Repeal

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Nebraska senator and Senate Armed Services Committee member Ben Nelson announced Wednesday that he will support a measure to repeal "don't ask, don't tell."

Nelson's vote is likely be the 15th and final vote needed to attach the measure in committee to the National Defense Authorization Act. That vote could take place as early as Wednesday afternoon but is expected to be completed by Thursday evening. Senator Nelson's full statement is pasted below.

As first reported Wednesday morning by Adam Bink at OpenLeft.com, "I was told Sen. Nelson's message is going to be that this isn't about the next election... what the [Lieberman-Levin] amendment does is 'remove the politics and puts the policy at DOD first.' ... He will further emphasize that the current policy is 'just not honest' and 'just not the way it should be handled.'"

The Human Rights Campaign was quick to welcome the news.

"We thank Senator Nelson for his support and are extremely grateful," said HRC president Joe Solmonese. "He and other senators supporting repeal will be on the right side of history. While Senator Nelson's vote is critical, no vote will be taken for granted in these final hours before the Senate committee vote."

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said, "We believe Chairman [Carl] Levin is pretty much there on the votes."

Senator Nelson's office released the following statement:

NELSON: REMOVE POLITICS FROM 'DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL' REPEAL

May 26, 2010 -- Today, Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson released this statement concerning legislation pending before the Senate Armed Services Committee to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law Congress approved in 1993.

"I don't believe that most Nebraskans want to continue a policy that not only encourages but requires people to be deceptive and to lie. The 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy does just that. It also encourages suspicion and senior officers to look the other way. In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy encourages deceit.

"The process being used to repeal this policy is fraught with typical Washington politics, with some suggesting Congress waits until after the November elections and others pushing for a vote before the elections.

"I will support the Lieberman compromise because it removes politics from the process. It bases implementation of the repeal on the Pentagon's review and a determination by our military leaders that repeal is consistent with military readiness and effectiveness, and that the Pentagon has prepared the necessary regulations to make the changes.

"I spoke to Secretary Gates and he advised that while he preferred waiting until the study is completed, he can live with this compromise.

"The Lieberman compromise shows that Congress values the Pentagon's review that will include the advice and viewpoints from our men and women in uniform, from outside experts and from the American people about how to implement the repeal. It rests ultimate authority to make this change with our military leaders. I believe this is the right thing to do."

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