Specter: 'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal has better chance if attached to defense bill

A repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) is more likely to pass if attached to the 2010 defense spending bill, one Democrat suggested Friday.

Although Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has also stressed recently he would support a standalone effort to end the policy, he said this week that Rep. Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) latest idea, to attach a repeal to a must-pass appropriations bill, could prove most effective in the upper chamber.

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A repeal "was supposed to be introduced by [Sen.] Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and I told her I’d cosponsor it, but she hasn’t introduced it yet,” Specter told the Philadelphia Gay News. “When someone takes stewardship over a bill as she did, you should wait for her to move on it and not try to step over her.

“I think the better strategy would be the one that Frank suggested,” Specter added. “If you have it as a standalone bill, it’s going to be filibustered for sure. But if you attach it as an amendment — that’s what was successful with the hate-crimes amendment — I think that’d be best.”

Frank's intention to propose a DADT repeal next spring already has a few key allies — namely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Barack Obama, one of the congressman's aides previously told The Hill.

But it is unclear whether Senate Democratic leaders — who have also signaled a willingness to end the policy — prefer the route Frank proposed or some other means to end the ban.

“Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank previously noted. “'Don’t ask, don’t tell' was always going to be part of the military authorization.”

Nevertheless, Specter's unequivocal support for a DADT repeal recently seems to be part of the senator's new, larger and more vocal approach to LGBT issues. He has recently signaled he also supports an end to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that he originally voted for that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.