WASHINGTON--The Senate failed on Thursday to advance "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation to allow gays to serve openly in the military in a 57-40 vote. The DADT repeal measure was part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The vote was on allowing the bill to advance without threat of a filibuster; as a practical matter, the issue is kicked over until next year, when it will be harder to pass in the new Congress.
The Illinois senators split on the vote: Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, voted yes. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican sworn into office on Nov. 29, voted no. During the campaign, Kirk declined to say if he supported DADT, saying he wanted to wait for the Pentagon study to be complete. Kirk's no vote as a policy matter does not reveal wheather he is for or against repealing DADT; rather, his position is the Senate in the lame duck session first has to vote on a tax package and on bills to keep the government operating. As a practical matter, however, voting no because of displeasure over the process--the sequence of voting on bills--had the practical impact of killing repeal for now.
Kirk statement, issued before the DADT vote, about what he called "regarding today's Senate procedural votes:
"The Senate's top priority should be to prevent a large tax increase from hitting families and small business employers on January 1st. I promised the people of Illinois that Job #1 would be jobs. I support the President's proposal and will vote today to ensure the bipartisan tax bill takes precedence before considering non-economic legislation, including items I support like the 9/11 victims health bill."