McCain Says He Will Oppose Repealing Law That Bans Homosexuals from Military

November 15, 2010 - 4:06 PM

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo)

( – Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday that in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress, he will continue to oppose a repeal of the law that bans homosexuals from serving in the U.S. military. 

President Barack Obama would like to repeal the law in the post-election session that will take place between now and the end of the year. 

In May, the House passed a Defense authorization bill that included a provision repealing the law that bans homosexuals from the military. When that authorization bill came up in the Senate in September, however, McCain led a filibuster against it.

On Monday, McCain discussed America’s leadership in the world at a forum in Washington, and afterwards, asked the senator, “Will you continue to oppose any lame-duck efforts by the administration to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law?”

“Yes,” said McCain. He was then quickly ushered from the room and did not take any other questions.

The law in question is Title 10, U.S. Code Subsection 654, which bans homosexuals from serving in the armed forces.

“The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a long-standing element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service,” the law states.

It also says that a “member of the armed forces shall be separated from the armed forces if one or more of the following findings is made and approved in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulations.”

These include: “That the member has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts ...

“That the member has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual, or words to that effect …

“That the member has married or attempted to marry a person known to be of the same biological sex.”

The law also defines “homosexual” as follows: “[A] person, regardless of sex, who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts, and includes the terms ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian.’ (2) The term ‘bisexual’ means a person who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual and heterosexual acts.”

The president has indicated he will push to repeal the law (10, USC 654) during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress. On Oct. 27, Obama told a group of liberal bloggers on Oct. 27 that he had a “strategy” for repealing the law.

“I was very deliberate in working with the Pentagon so that I've got the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs being very clear about the need to end this policy,” said Obama. “That is part of a strategy that I have been pursuing since I came into office. And my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year.”

Obama said he worried that McCain might lead another filibuster against the Defense authorization bill to block the repeal of the ban on homosexuals in the military.

“Because what I do anticipate is that John McCain and maybe some others will filibuster this issue, and we're going to have to have a cloture vote,” to end debate on the Defense bill, said Obama. “If we can get through that cloture vote, this is done.”

The law banning homosexuals from the military was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in January 1994. It is separate from “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is not the law but a Defense Department directive put out during the Clinton administration.

Under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) directive, military recruiters and senior officers are not allowed to ask new recruits and military personnel are not required to say whether they are homosexual. The DADT policy directive does not override the law that prohibits homosexuals from serving in the military. Because DADT is an administration policy, it could be amended at any time by the Defense Department. Only Congress has the authority to repeal the relevant federal law and legalize military service by homosexuals.

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said today that in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress he will continue to oppose any effort by the Obama administration to repeal the law that bans homosexuals from serving in the military.