WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - In a breakfast meeting with progressive bloggers and writers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law, which prohibits openly gay and lesbian citizens from serving in the armed forces, is a priority that will be passed "when we have the votes." The Speaker said there was no timeline for the bill to be brought the House floor, reported pageoneq.com.
Responding to a question asked by Advocate news editor Kerry Eleveld, the speaker referenced the work of Rep. Ellen Tauscher, the member who introduced a bill this week to reverse the law. Don't Ask, Don't Tell was passed during the Clinton administration and signed by the president into law in 1993. Eleveld asked the Sepaker if she thought the bill would be voted on by the end of 2009.
"The priorities have been Hate Crimes and ENDA, fully inclusive legislation in those two areas, so we'll have to have our strategy work around on how we can get those passed, as well as move forward on Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Pelosi said.
In her reply the Speaker acknowledged her work with Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin on these issues. She also mentioned Rep. Jared Polis, the newest out member of Congress. "Not that other members don't participate," she added, "but those members take special ownership of the issues."
"Some of these things are the tail of a tadpole, they are remnant of another piece of evolution, they will be gone," she said.
The crowd of about twenty attendees laughed when Pelosi added "I come from San Francisco," indicating that people have expressed to her that because of that she has more 'tolerance.' "'Tolerant' to me is almost a condescending word, It's not about being tolerant, it's about about being respectful, it's about taking pride. So, we're at a different place on these issues, but they'll catch up."
"The American people want us to have the best defense possible," she said and then listed a number of prominent retired senior military officers and politicians who have supported the repeal or a review of the law, including former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, John Shalikashvili, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Senator Sam Nunn.
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