More congressional progress on DADT

MORE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESS ON DADT…. We learned earlier this month that Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), a decorated Army combat veteran, has taken the lead in the House on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” His bill, H.R. 1283, now has 164 House co-sponsors, including 14 who’ve signed on this month.

What of the Senate? There’s apparently some progress in the upper chamber, too.

The Daily Beast has learned that the Senate, prompted by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, will hold hearings on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — a first since 1993, despite Obama’s campaign promises.

After determining she didn’t have enough votes in support of a temporary suspension of the ban on gays in the military, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tells The Daily Beast she has secured the commitment of Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” this fall. It would be the first formal re-assessment of the policy since Congress passed it into law in 1993.

Proponents of repeal are optimistic the hearings should move us closer to a more sensible policy. Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, said, “Almost all serious experts who used to argue against allowing gays in the military have either changed course or died.”

And for what it’s worth, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who tends to be rather risk averse, will support Senate efforts to scrap the existing policy, making repeal that much more likely.

Obviously, every day that DADT remains on the books is a problem, and a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing is just a step in the right direction. That said, there seems to be some momentum on the issue for the first time.