How much difference will one day make on ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal?

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

The Pentagon is doing its part to nudge the Senate into repealing the military's ban on openly gay service. Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered his department to rush the release of the Pentagon's study on the potential effects of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by one day. The study -- which concludes there's minimal risk to letting gays serve openly -- will now come out Nov. 30 instead of Dec. 1.

Both Gates and Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said they think it would be better for Congress to repeal "Don't Ask" than for the courts to strike it down, which would lead to an abrupt change in policy. And Navy chief Adm. Gary Roughead, who joined the other four service chiefs in opposing repeal last May, told a National Journal reporter the survey was "extraordinary" and exceptionally thorough, though he gave no opinion on repeal. Several Republican senators, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine, said they wanted to see the Pentagon report before they decided to vote for repeal, and its early release could sway them.

Sen. Joe Lieberman has confidently predicted he has 60 votes to pass the defense authorization bill that includes the repeal, since GOP Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Susan Collins of Maine said they'd be willing to vote for repeal if Republicans are allowed to tack on amendments to the bill. But an open amendment process could also kill off support for the "Don't Ask" provision, leaving the fate of the unpopular policy still very much up in the air.

(Photo: Repeal advocates protest last week/AP.)