White House officials are reportedly negotiating with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) about a bill to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy.
Lieberman is a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where such a bill could likely originate. Sources have even suggested in the days following the president's promise to repeal the law -- which prevents gays from openly serving in the military -- that Lieberman could be the Senate legislation's primary sponsor.
“Sen. Lieberman has had discussions with representatives of the [Obama administration] and others on the best way to reverse this policy, which he has opposed since it was first proposed in 1993,” Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s press secretary, told The Advocate on Monday.
“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill -- we are in direct discussions with Sen. Lieberman,” confirmed John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, also to The Advocate.
The latest Democratic push to repeal DADT arrives about two days after President Barack Obama told leaders at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner that he hoped to end the policy soon.
"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country," Obama said during Saturday's address. "We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage ... especially when we are fighting two wars."
But critics were quick to note Obama was mum on specifics. The president in his address explained neither how he would repeal DADT nor when he would do it -- two of many concerns protesters later aired during the March for Equality, held in Washington on Sunday.
However, the news Monday that Obama had actively approached key Senate leaders about a possible repeal perhaps signifies the White House and Democratic lawmakers are seriously considering a campaign to end DADT. The House already has a DADT bill in the works, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.).
It is unclear whether (or when) Lieberman -- or other Senate supporters -- might introduce the Senate's version.