Senate rejects DADT, Murkowski votes NO, stand-alone bill likely *Update: Maddow on DADT*

The senate held an unexpected cloture vote today on the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and the defense budget, and the vote fell mostly along party lines, with 57 yes votes and 40 no votes. Although a majority voted in favor, they needed 60 votes to stop McCain's filibuster.

Alaska's senators were split - Sen. Begich voted yes as promised, but Sen. Murkowski voted no despite yesterday's statement that she supports the repeal of DADT. (The official Senate vote is HERE.)

After the vote, Senators Leiberman and Collins announced that they will introduce a separate DADT bill before the lame duck session ends, and Senator Reid agreed to bring it forward. Speaker Pelosi confirmed that the House has the votes to pass a stand-alone DADT repeal if the Senate acts before the recess.

Call Sen. Murkowski and tell her (politely) what you think of her No vote on DADT today, and encourage her to vote Yes on the stand-alone DADT repeal: (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-666.

Rumors abound on other options for DADT, including attaching it to the 'tax cut for billionaires' bill to ensure GOP support.

LGBT bills usually wait until the 'news dump' days right before a holiday, but anything could happen in this partisan Congress. Stay tuned for updates.

President Obama's statement on today's defense budget/DADT vote:
I am extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate from moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act. Despite having the bipartisan support of a clear majority of Senators, a minority of Senators are standing in the way of the funding upon which our troops, veterans and military families depend. This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.

A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law, a step supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed by a comprehensive study that shows overwhelming majorities of our armed forces are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian. A great majority of the American people agree. This law weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality.

I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, and Senators Lieberman and Collins for all the work they have done on this bill. While today's vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts. I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.
More reactions:

Today's vote is heartbreaking and demoralizing to all members of OutServe - and the tens of thousands of gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members who must continue to serve in silence and live a lie. No words can describe how it felt to watch our U.S. senators uphold discrimination and perpetuate the deceit and compromised integrity that consistently result under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We had more faith in our elected officials to heed the advice of military leadership and vote against prejudice. Instead, a minority of senators have successfully blockaded the entire defense spending bill on the basis of prejudice and politics.

Servicemembers United
This was a major failure on the part of the Senate to simply do its job and pass an annual defense authorization bill. Politics prevailed over responsibility today, and now more than one million American servicemembers, including tens of thousands of gay and lesbian troops, are worse off as a result. Since the votes are there in isolation, the Senate should still consider a stand-alone bill to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law before adjourning for the winter holidays.

We support Sen. Lieberman's plan to move a standalone bill. We also believe another viable option is the Continuing Resolution (CR) coming over from the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate and the President must remain in session and in Washington to find another path for repeal to get done in the lame-duck. We implore all who support repeal to join us outside the Senate tomorrow at noon.

Update: Rachel Maddow covers the DADT vote and the next possible option for repeal - the new standalone bill S 4022.

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