Politics

Center-right and faith-based group Freedom Federation targets 10 senators to oppose repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Repeal of the military’s ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy appears to be a lock. With four moderate Senate Republicans planning to vote for repeal, supporters now have 61 votes — more than the majority needed for passage and enough to to prevent a filibuster. But opponents are going into hyper-drive, attempting to stop what now appears to be inevitable.

The Freedom Federation, a coalition of more than 90 center-right and faith-based organizations that says it represents 40 million constituents, has sent out an internal strategy memo (see below) asking members to target 10 senators considered vulnerable on the issue: Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, North Dakota Democratic Senator Kent Conrad, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, Missouri Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, and Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Federation aims to lay the blame for any negative effects of repeal at the feet of these senators.

“Moreover, the larger theory of this memo is that once the American public begins to understand the dimensions of this issue, the repercussions for those who favor repeal will be severe,” the letter reads. “Connecticut has a strong veteran community – one that Senator Lieberman, unlike Senator-elect Blumenthal, cannot afford to offend and survive politically.”

According to the Federation’s letter, the politicians will feel constituents’ wrath once their vote is official, particularly in the case of Senator Brown.

“The damage Senator Brown has done himself is already severe, but little public perception exists on the point as of yet. Besides permanently removing himself from consideration for any GOP national ticket, his reversal on this issue during the last year makes him look like just another Massachusetts politician anxious to court the state’s wealthy, elitist left. Many who expected to disagree with him on issues but saw him as a bright new political presence are beyond disappointed,” the Federation writes.

The Federation is encouraging its members to remind the senators of their more conservative constituents and the harm a repeal will bring to the military.

The Memo:

CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM TO FREEDOM FOUNDATION MEMBERS CONCERNING “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” LEGISLATION

TO: Member Organizations of the Freedom Federation

FROM: Mathew Staver

DATE: December 16, 2010

SUBJ: Mobilization to Stop Senate from Overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy

This is an urgent communication to inform you about the status of the efforts of the majority-led Democratic Congress to overturn the law that bans open homosexuality in the military, commonly referred to by the subsequent Executive policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).

It is also an urgent request for your organization to engage to stop the Senate from overturning DADT.

Where We Are in the Legislative Process

Attached is a December 9, 2010, op-ed by Tony Perkins, Family Research Council President and Marine Corps Veteran, which outlines the stakes in this down-to-the-wire legislative battle over DADT.

On December 9, Senate Democrats failed to win an important procedural vote to cut off debate on the Defense Authorization Bill that contains the legislative language to overturn DADT. The vote was taken so that the Senate could then move to final debate and a final vote.

Sixty votes were required to cut off debate, and the Senate Democratic leadership, under Harry Reid, fell just short with 57 votes. While it was not the final vote, this cloture vote was an important signal of which Senators support overturning DADT.

With the sole exception of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all Senate Democrats voted in support of overturning DADT. Senator Susan Collins from Maine was the sole Republican to vote in support of overturning DADT.