Senate Democrats

H.R. 2965, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010

Summary

H.R.2965, theDon’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 would put in place a process to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the armed services by striking Section 654 of Title 10 of the United States Code (USC), and allow the Secretary of Defense to manage implementation of a non-discriminatory policy according to the recommendations of the Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The repeal would take effect 60 days after the report requested by the Secretary of Defense on March 2, 2010 studying the implementation of the repeal is released (which occurred on November 30, 2010) and once the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs each certify in writing to Congress that repeal is consistent with the Armed Forces’ standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.

Major Provisions

This legislation would repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the armed services by striking Section 654 of Title 10 of the USC.  The repeal would take effect 60 days after the last of conditions a) and b) are fulfilled:

a) The Secretary of Defense receives the Comprehensive Review he requested on March 2, 2010 concerning implementing a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” 

b) Congress receives written certification from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff  stating that:

1)  The President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report’s proposed plan of action.

2) The Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations to implement the repeal.

3) Implementing all necessary modifications required to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.

c) Until all of the conditions described above are met, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will remain in effect.

d) Should the repeal be enacted, this law will not provide marriage or spousal benefits offered under Section 7 of Title 1 to the USC to homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces.

e) Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” does not create a private cause of action.

Legislative History

The provisions of this legislation were originally included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year 2011.

On December 10, Senator Lieberman (D-CT) introduced S.4023, a stand-alone version of the provisions contained in the FY 2011 NDAA.  S.4023 has 49 cosponsors.  On December 14, Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA) introduced H.R.6520, a companion bill to S.4023.

On December 15, 2010, the House amended H.R.2965 by substituting the text of H.R.6520, and then passed H.R.2965 as amended by a vote of 250-175.  Senator Reid filed cloture on the motion to concur with H.R.2965 on December 16, 2010.  The vote on cloture on the motion to concur with H.R.2965 is scheduled for December 18, 2010.

Expected Amendments

The DPC will circulate information about possible amendments as it becomes available.

Administration Position

On December 15, 2010, prior to House consideration, the Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R.2965, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010:

“The Administration strongly supports House passage of the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.2965, which would repeal the statute underlying "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" after the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the necessary policies and regulations related to the statutory repeal is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.  Congressional enactment of this legislation would allow a repeal to be implemented under terms and a timetable that would be informed by the advice of our military leadership.

The recently-released comprehensive study by the Department of Defense shows that overwhelming majorities of our Service members are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian; it concludes that overall, and with thorough preparation, there would be low risk associated with the repeal.  The existing statute weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity, and equality.”

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