It looks as though Alexi Giannoulias’s online petition achieved its goal.
Earlier this month, after a press conference with GLBT media at the Center on Halsted, Giannoulias unveiled “Equality Can’t Wait,” a website asking Congress to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. It was a swipe at Mark Kirk, who has a mostly-sterling record on gay rights -- but as a Naval Reserve officer, supports DADT.
Today, the Obama Administration announced a deal to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It won’t take effect until after a review by the Pentagon, expected to be completed Dec. 1.
“We are closer than ever to repealing this immoral, ineffective, discriminatory policy,” Giannoulias said in his online diary on Daily Kos.
In spite of the deal, Kirk is remaining steadfast in support of the 17-year-old policy that forces gay and lesbian servicemembers to hide their sexual orientation.
“Congressman Kirk is proud to serve our country in uniform,” spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said. “He supports and abides by the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.”
So this is a victory for Giannoulias, right?
Maybe not. Giannoulias can hardly claim his little old petition contributed to ending the policy, which was already opposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Kirk will probably have to vote on the amendment to the Defense Authorization bill this week.
“It is going to be interesting to see what Kirk has to do here,” said Giannoulias spokeswoman Kathleen Strand. “We’ve been talking about it for some time, and we really put the pressure on last week with our online petition.”
Passage in the Senate is less certain, because Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., has announced his opposition to repeal, setting up a party-line vote.
If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed, it could be less effective as a campaign issue. The Giannoulias campaign promises to keep hanging it on Kirk.
“If it is in fact repealed, I’m sure his opposition will come up,” Strand said.