A friend who has spoken with Sen. Lisa Murkowski told me that she’d directly said to him, “We’re going to fight for your issues.”
But as shown in comments broadcast last night on Anchorage’s CBS affiliate, KTVA Channel 11 ( previewed at the Think Progress’s The Wonk Room earlier in the day [Ref #1]), the closest she’s able to come in public to saying what she said privately to my friend is more along the lines of, “I’m not going to fight you on your issues.”
And clearly she sees them as “our issues” — not her own. Equality under the law for the homosexual community (the term she uses; transfolk are not mentioned) does not seem, in her eyes, to be the same as plain and simple equality under the law for all citizens.
So I caution people not to characterize Sen. Murkowski’s comments last night to KTVA Channel 11’s Matt Felling as “support” for repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Her actual words were, “I would not oppose the Defense Authorization bill because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the repeal of it, is included within it.” It’s not just semantics: to not oppose is not the same as to support. A person can not oppose, for example, by abstaining.
But when it comes to votes in Congress… well, I suppose that’s better than a “no” vote.
Below is the video from KTVA Channel 11 News. Matthew Felling introduced the segment referring to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is “thinking about bringing to a vote.” Repeal of DADT is part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senate authorization of NDAA was halted on September 21 by a Republican filibuster led by antigay former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. [Ref #2] Sen. Murwkowski was not present at the vote — the only senator not present — because she was campaigning in Alaska. [Ref #3] Sen. Murkowski has previously indicated that her decision on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was partially dependent on results of the Pentagon’s comprehensive report on DADT. The Pentagon review is due for release in early December, but portions have already been leaked to the press.
A transcript of Sen. Murkowski’s comments (corrected from the somewhat loose transcript at KTVA’s site) are below the video. [Ref #4]
You have been waiting to hear from them, and they have said — at least according to the polls that are out there, that have been leaked — they’re okay with it. Procedural behind the scenes things [notwithstanding]… are you more likely to vote for a bill saying “I hear them. And if they’re okay with it, I’m okay with it?”
And I have said that I would work to make sure that as long as it is supported by the troops, as long as it doesn’t hurt the performance or the morale, or the recruitment — these are all things that we want to take into consideration — I think we will see that play out in this report. If in fact Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is included in the Defense Authorization and we get to the point where we can move that bill through — I would not oppose the Defense Authorization bill because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the repeal of it, is included within it. I have made the statement to others, that we are at a different point in time, if you will. There is, more clearly, a level of acceptance in our communities, at all levels of supporting and providing for that level of equality to the homosexual community. And I think that’s important to recognize that.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (an independent, formerly a Democrat) announced yesterday during a press conference flanked by 12 Democrats that he was confident there were enough votes to repeal DADT, and named Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana as “yes” votes on NDAA and repeal of DADT. [Ref #5] The Washington Blade reported that another Republican, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, would also vote to repeal DADT. [Ref #6] So if Sen. Murkowski is good on her word, it seems that there are at least four Republican senators willing to cross party lines to repeal DADT… if only, in Murkowski’s case, because “a level of acceptance in our communities… for that level of equality” has been reached.
Make sure to let her know that equality under the law for LGBT citizens, including LGBT servicemembers, is important to you:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
877-829-6030 (toll free)
The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
And be sure to also call Sen. Mark Begich to thank him and encourage him in his ongoing support for equality:
Sen. Mark Begich
877-501-6275 (toll free)
One good source of recent news on repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Support LGBT servicemembers. Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Recent DADT posts
- 11/4/10. “President Obama on DADT” (Henkimaa). Crossposted on Bent Alaska.
- 11/11/10. “Honoring LGBT veterans, and a Veteran’s Day message from Alaskans Together” (Bent Alaska).
- 11/11/10. “LGBT veterans and DADT: True stories from I’m from Driftwood (Bent Alaska).
- 11/15/10. “URGENT: Call Sens. Begich and Murkowski on DADT now!” (Bent Alaska).
- 11/15/10. “Murkowski & DADT: Turn up the heat” (Henkimaa).
- 11/19/10. “DADT: Murkowski, update from HRC, and Maddow & the Daily Show take down McCain” (Bent Alaska).
- 11/18/10. “Sen. Lisa Murkowski Tells Local TV She Will Vote For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal” by Igor Volsky (The Wonk Room, Think Progress).
- 9/22/10. “Senate halts ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal” by Ted Barrett and Dana Bash (CNN).
- 9/21/10. “Murkowski misses vote on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell'” by Joshua Saul (Alaska Dispatch).
- 11/18/10. “Murkowski “I Would Not Oppose… DADT Repeal” by Matt Felling (KTVA Channel 11 News).
- 11/18/10. “Lieberman on DADT: We Have 60” by Kerry Eleveld (The Advocate).
- 11/18/10. “Sen. Ensign to support ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal: source” by Chris Johnson (Washington Blade).