WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish groups expressed regret at the U.S. Senate’s failure to repeal the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays.
A repeal of the policy, which requires the discharge of gay servicemen and servicewomen who reveal their orientation, was attached to a defense spending bill. It failed Dec. 9 on a procedural vote to garner the 60 votes needed to advance to debate.
"The military’s code of honor is tarnished when service members are required to lie about their identity," the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center said in a statement. "And as people of faith, we are pained by this affront to the dignity of those in uniform, each of whom, gay or straight, embodies the spark of the Divine presence in every person, and each of whom should be a source of pride for all Americans."
The National Council of Jewish Women also condemned the failure, but expressed hope that a stand-alone bill introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the wake of last week’s failure would reach the floor before Congress ends its session this month.
A similar bill has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Military personnel favor repeal, and it appears to have majority backing in the Senate, but the chamber’s Republicans have sworn to block legislation until tax cuts introduced under President George W. Bush are extended. Negotiations are under way and the tax issue may be resolved before week’s end.
Other Jewish groups advocating for the repeal of the ban include the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.