New hope for #DADT repeal out of Nevada as advocates find an unlikely ally: Senator Ensign

November 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm 43 comments

As news trickles in of moderate Republicans prepared to break party lines and support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” I wanted to share this first-hand account of one on the ground efforts going in to securing its passage. Andrew Davey is the Secretary and Political Director for the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada and recounts his story of the unlikely ally repeal advocates have found in Nevada: Senator John Ensign. -Andy

Cross posted at Nevada Progressive
by Andrew Davey

In case you missed it on my Twitter yesterday, I got a bomb dropped on me… In a good way! I’ll get to that a little later, but first I want to give some background on what’s been happening.

(Disclosure: I sit on the board of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada, as well as the Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus.)

A group of us from various local LGBTQ advocacy organizations, including Stonewall and PLAN, went to Senator Harry Reid’s office to thank him for his commitment to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and discuss next steps in making it happen. Reid will be working his hardest within The Senate chambers to gather the votes, negotiate with Republicans on the amendment process, and get it done from the inside.



Meanwhile, it’s our duty as equality activists to work from outside on reaching out to those Senators still on the fence and educate them on why most Americans want to see this done, why most soldiers want to see this done, and why this must be done by the end of this year so that this policy can come to an end and our military can stop letting go of good soldiers just because of who they are. While I was thinking about those Senators in other states that local activists there need to talk with, someone else in our group had an idea on one more office we needed to visit.


State Senator David Parks (D-Las Vegas), Nevada’s first out state legislator and an Air Force veteran himself, was among our group yesterday. And after we finished meeting with Harry Reid’s Las Vegas staff, he suggested we go across the hall and meet with Senator John Ensign’s staff.

Yep, you heard me right. He said it was worth a try for us, so we all just did it.

When Rachel Maddow mentioned The Washington Blade report…

Laura Martin, communications director for the club, said she and other activists on Thursday met with Margot Allen, Ensign’s regional representative on military issues, who informed the group of Ensign’s opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and intention to vote for the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill, which contains repeal language.

“The first question was about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and his staffer said he supports repeal,” Martin said. “We asked her to clarify three times and she said he will vote in the affirmative on the defense authorization with ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal in it.”

Martin said the question they asked was based on the condition that the vote would come up in December after the Pentagon working group completes its report on implementing repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“We said after Dec. 1, when that report is out, and the defense authorization act is up for a vote with the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ will the senator vote in the affirmative to pass it?” Martin said. “And she said, ‘He will.’ And we asked her to clarify that two more times and she said, ‘Yes, he wants it repealed.’”

She mentioned Laura Martin, Stonewall’s Communications Director. She was there with us, and we both broke the news on Twitter yesterday as our jaws were dropping and we were wondering if we were dreaming.

Basically, we went into the office. We were then greeted by the receptionist at the front desk, who told us someone would be out shortly when we asked about scheduling an appointment to talk with them about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal. We weren’t even expecting to have a meeting that day, but all of a sudden Margot Allen stepped out, greeted us, and told us that Ensign wants to read through the official Pentagon report as soon as it’s released… But once it’s released and he looks through it, he intends to vote for the defense authorization bill with the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal provision included.

Again, we were all floored. But as Allen was explaining how Ensign is approaching this, we caught it again and realized our ears weren’t playing a trick on us. Yes, it’s happening. Yes, Ensign will support DADT repeal. And yes, we citizens can still make a difference.

Frankly, this is what we need more of. Despite what you may have heard, our members of Congress still have to pay attention to those letters we write them, those calls we make to their offices, and the office visits we make. Citizen lobbying matters. And right now, as we’re looking to firm up support from Senators like Ensign and Lisa Murkowski who are all of a sudden very open to DADT repeal, we need to keep those lines of conversation open and keep encouraging them to listen to us, listen to the troops, and listen to their consciences.

We’re closer to getting at least 60 Senate votes to repeal DADT than ever before. Call Ensign’s office at (202) 224-6244, email him here, and thank him for supporting DADT repeal while encouraging him to follow through on it. And of course, call Reid’s office at (202) 224-3542, email him here, and thank him for all the work he’s done to make this all happen. All this personal contact we’ve been making is really making a difference. It is here in Nevada, and it can across the country.

Despite all the Beltway chatter you may have heard over the last few weeks, local community activists kept talking with Harry Reid and his staffers about DADT repeal. And despite premature notices of its “death”, Reid is following through on his promise to us to keep pursuing it until DADT gets repealed. And now, we may end up with Ensign on board as well. That’s the power of our voices.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Boxer and Feinstein on repealing #DADT in the lame-duck session Hi Louis! Homosexuality is a mental disorder, says NOM affiliate Marinelli

43 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ann S.  |  November 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    • 2. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm


      • 3. Ronnie  |  November 19, 2010 at 4:54 pm


        • 4. Alan E.  |  November 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm

          ditto ditto.

    • 5. Kathleen  |  November 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      • 6. grod  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:09 pm

        @ Kathleen@Kathleen
        Los Angeles and 8 other counties reported this afternoon in the Harris AG vote count. From this morning count to this afternoon count there has been an increase of over 13,500 in Harris’ favour bringing her overall lead to 43,050. Almost 40% of the counties have completed the count. Of the completed counties, 20% represents counties which Harris has the majority. Given that the population distribution by counties and the percentage difference between the top candidates varies by county, this is not a particularly useful comparison. There are still 629,634 votes to be counted.
        Kathleen, we are all interested in your take of the size of the split.

        • 7. Kathleen  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

          I have no perspective on how this might break, other than what has been reported by news media. One report said that Cooley would have to win all the remaining votes by a 6% margin in order to take the lead and they estimated that in the final vote, Harris will lead by about 30K.

          I stress that the “unprocessed ballots status report” is self-reported estimates by the counties. I was tracking these for a while and realized that they’re not very accurate. For example, there were counties that reported numbers of votes that far exceeded their earlier estimate of remaining votes and then still updated the report to show they had additional votes to count.

          Also, this report is not in sync with the vote tallies reports. Note that the last time L.A. updated their estimates of unprocessed was 11/16, yet they reported new votes today. So, we assume that the votes reported today must reduce the number remaining in the county. As a side note, Los Angeles has only been reporting new votes to the state on Tuesdays and Fridays.

  • 8. Matthew  |  November 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Might be the only worthwhile thing Lisa murkowski ever votes with democrats on. It’s too bad the Dem couldn’t have won, but she’s a far better choice then Joe ‘no-shave’ miller.

    I live in Alaska, where good ol Joe miller is desperately trying to use federal courts and spendy washington lawyers to steal the Alaska election. Now he’s just a desperate guy acting like a sore loser.

    • 9. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:39 pm

      Federal courts? But but but…states’ rights!!!ONE!!!

  • 10. Felyx  |  November 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Breaking News… There may be a cure!!!

    • 11. Lesbians Love Boies  |  November 19, 2010 at 6:17 pm

      lol…Pink Tiger Institute. I want to be a member!

      • 12. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm

        HA! It’s a play on TIGR. Love it.

    • 13. Sheryl, Mormon Mother of a wonderful son who just happens to be gay  |  November 20, 2010 at 12:54 am

      Needed a good laugh this evening. Thanks for posting, Felyx.

    • 14. BK  |  November 20, 2010 at 5:44 am

      *smile* that’s perfect.

    • 15. Justin  |  November 20, 2010 at 11:06 am

      Awesome. I imagine this is what NOMbies and other likeminded fools would consider “Christian intolerance.”

  • 16. Ray in MA  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    If this doesn;t tug at your emotions, you have no soul in your heart:

    • 17. Ronnie  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

      That is the video I posted on the “Boxer & Feinstein” thread…it still says awaiting moderation….great video…..<3…Ronnie

    • 18. Steve  |  November 20, 2010 at 11:36 am

      The idea is awesome, but the music sucks and the execution could have been better too. Yeah, it’s emotional, but more for the sentiment behind it (and knowing that such cases did occur) than the way it’s done.

      • 19. Felyx  |  November 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm

        Interesting comment Steve. I am eager to see your music video that you are pouring your heart and soul and money into that will showcase your talents as well as your support for our community in this our time of greatest need.

        Until then, all props to Tom Goss and company who actually did a good job with his own voice, their own money and their owe talent and props to them for getting out there and actually making a difference in this world through (in the opinion of Steve… sucky) music.

        (Paste your video here soon Steve… with criticism like yours it MUST be a good one!)

        • 20. Steve  |  November 21, 2010 at 4:58 am

          I don’t need to be a musician (or an expert in any other artistic field for that matter) to be able to state that I don’t like it. And I certainly don’t need to produce something better.

          For the most part it’s just not my taste of music, but it’s also simply nothing that stands out in any way. It just exactly like any of hundreds of others of those singers targeted at teenage girls. I’ve had my fill of that in the mid 90s.

          • 21. Felyx  |  November 21, 2010 at 6:12 am

            NOM and FRC don’t need to be actual scientists to ‘express’ their opinions either.

            There are a lot of people out there that like to express their negative unproductive opinions about others without really making any tangible contributions of their own.

            It is not really my music either for the most part. I would rather he said ‘my love’ or ‘beloved’ than ‘lover’ which for me has an added connotation of an affair or something illicit but whatever. We have so little good gay themed music out there that I want to add my praise for those who are leading the way! I do not sing well (so I say) but I could see myself making a similar attempt and succeeding at least as well. I have no doubt that people like you, Steve, would sit there and criticize without any interest in finding the beauty in what was before you… kinda like the homophobes and haters…

            Anyway, I don’t need to be a compassionate human or any other kind of expert to ‘express’ my opinion on other people’s ‘stupid’ and ‘negative’ comments.

  • 22. Straight Ally #3008  |  November 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Dare I hope? If Ensign broke in favor of repeal, I don’t see what Olympia Snowe wouldn’t, especially if Collins and Lugar are on board as Joe Lieberman says. Add Murkowski to that, maybe Scott Brown will finally act like a Senator from a socially progressive state (although I don’t trust him on that at all). Here’s hoping.

    • 23. BK  |  November 20, 2010 at 5:47 am

      I completely forgot that Brown had said, “This is the people’s seat” blah blah blah. Doesn’t that mean he should vote according to the will of ‘his’ people? ‘Cause if so, then… well… (doh!).

    • 24. atdleft  |  November 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

      I don’t know about Brown, but most likely Snowe is on board if Collins and Lugar already are. I never thought I’d be praising Lieberman like this, but I guess he and Reid have finally figured out how to get all these R’s on board. Let’s hope everything keeps coming into place.

  • 25. JPM  |  November 19, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Saying you will vote for the NDAA with DADT repeal attached is not necessarily the same thing as saying you will vote for cloture to allow the bill to come to a vote.

    The emissaries to Ensign’s office were unfortunately amiss in not clarifying this point.

    • 26. John  |  November 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      Exactly. And it is a sad thing to see that even activists who lobby senators don’t seem to understand the basics of the senate procedures. “if it comes to a vote” should have been a clear hint to follow up with the question about cloture.

      • 27. atdleft  |  November 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

        Actually, we do. And we asked just about every question we could, and got Margot Allen from Ensign’s office to answer as many as possible. On Thursday, she couldn’t make it any clearer that once the Pentagon report is out and Reid has worked out a fair amendment process with the other key Republican Senators negotiating (like Collins and Lugar), Ensign will NOT stand in the way of DADT repeal. Yes, that means Allen said he would NOT filibuster NDAA with the DADT repeal provision.

        Believe me, I understand the basics of Senate procedure. I’ve taken numerous classes on it, and I’ve actually been dealing with it in real life. And as soon as we see the slightest bit of wavering from Ensign’s office on this… Well, I can’t give away “trade secrets”, but I’ll just say we know how to keep him on board.

        (Yes, this is Andrew. I wrote the diary above.)

        • 28. Bob  |  November 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

          Thanks Andrew, for the encouraging update, and for all you are doing, sounds like you’re right on it, knowing that, can the general public rest easy, or is there any way they can support your effforts, and what would that be?//

          • 29. atdleft  |  November 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

            Call Ensign’s office! If you’re in Nevada, keep calling. If you know people here, encourage them to call Ensign, thank him for supporting DADT repeal, and encourage him to “stay the course” in supporting cloture and the final defense authorization bill with the DADT repeal provision.

            Again, I can’t stress enough how important citizen lobbying can really be.

          • 30. Bob  |  November 20, 2010 at 6:26 pm

            thanks Andrew, again for all your efforts, in Nevada, I’m assuming it’s the same for the other states, considering you’re active in Nevada, are you in touch with lobbyists in the other states? are they doing the same thing, and which would you consider the key states, or senators to be calling? for people reading this site,

            the importance of citizien lobbying cannot be stressed enough, we got to push this till it happens, is any one state or senator more in need of lobbying than any other.

            we need to support cloture (I don’t even know what that means) and the final defense authoriztion bill with the DADT repal provision……

            even for the cynics, and people who don’t believe,, (those people are guilty of shadenfreuden, if they don’t make an effort to call their senator, for those p8tters, did I get that right??)

            now is not the time to be dikering with DADT, we got to move forward, make those calls, and e-mails, we cannot sit idle, the majority in favour of repeal, according to statistics, can’t sit on their laurels or those stats, and be smug, they have to be active, every day till the last day, and cynics have to move off that stance to action.

            Maybe a list of every senator and his contact could be helpful again,,,,, I’m asking for this site, or a link ot those numbers for those on this site,

            I can’t express enough how much I want DADT gone, it will be such an enormous blow to the church, and geting the power of the church out of the military will be such a victory for world PEACE,,,,,,,

            Rainbow warriors fighting openly defy both the church and NOM, one swift kick, and they’lll both be bending over holding their balls. in pain. end DADT NOW.

            ending DADT, takes power away from bullies like Bush who is guilty of war crimes, the mayor from London england told him not to come peddlig his book there cause he could never see Texas again, Italy and Spain are off limits to him too, cause they so strongly enforce human rights , he would be facing a tribunal for sure.

            end BULLYING END DADT NOW phone and e-mail every day till it happens.

            please on behalf of every PEACE loving nation I beg you to make this happen,,,,,,,

        • 31. JPM  |  November 20, 2010 at 11:49 am

          That’s wonderful. You should be making that crystal clear in stories that are written about Ensign’s stance.

          If Ensign’s aide stated that he will vote for cloture then I want to know about it. (And, just to be obnoxious, I will point out that saying he will not filibuster is not the same as saying he will vote for cloture. He could be conveniently absent for the cloture vote which would have the effect of voting NO to cloture but still keeping his word)

          • 32. atdleft  |  November 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

            “You should be making that crystal clear in stories that are written about Ensign’s stance.”

            I thought I did, but I can understand if you and others are still so in shock that it sounds to good to be true.

            “He could be conveniently absent for the cloture vote”

            I know “taking a walk” is common practice in Sacramento with the California Legislature, but I don’t remember seeing as much of it at the federal level. Whatever the case, Ensign’s office made it crystal clear that he supports DADT repeal and as soon as The Pentagon Report is released, he will support cloture and the final NDAA bill.

            And again, if Ensign’s office wavers on this, we already have a plan to keep him in line.

          • 33. JPM  |  November 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm

            Since neither the word ‘filibuster’ nor the word ‘cloture’ is used in the article these comments are attached to I don’t see how you could think that you had already made it crystal clear that Ensign had committed to voting for cloture.

        • 34. John  |  November 21, 2010 at 9:26 am

          That’s splendid news, I owe you all my apologies. I have seen people get too optimistic too often before, but now it is me being too pessimistic.

        • 35. Bob  |  November 22, 2010 at 10:13 am

          I just got an e-mail from Ensigns office stating that unfortunately the Democrats have chosen a few pieces of legislation to bring forward in the lame duck session, and the NDAA including DADT repeal, are not one of those pieces .

          anyone else get that reply???

  • 36. Richard A. Jernigan  |  November 19, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    This is good news. However as a friend who is retired USArmy has pointed out, we also need to have something in place that specifically states that LGBT personnel are allowed to serve openly and that their spouses will be entitled to the same spousal benefits as straight personnel.

  • 37. Sagesse  |  November 19, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    One step at a time.

    • 38. Ray in MA  |  November 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

      One war at a time.

  • 39. Ronnie  |  November 20, 2010 at 10:29 am

    “In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, actress Candis Cayne urges viewers to be an ally and a friend to the transgender community.”


  • 40. Jim  |  November 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Yes, these GOP senators will vote to repeal. But, watching the GOP before, it could just be their way of dumbing the American public again by saying that they will vote for repeal, BUT, with Mr. McCain (cannot call him senator since he doesn’t represent anyone but himself, depending on which hour it is) and his statement that he will fillabuster, it might never come to a vote.

  • 41. Rhie  |  November 20, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Whee! Will be watching this very closely.

    • 42. Bob  |  November 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

      Rhie, please don’t watch, PHONE your senator don’t watch, do ACT please give NOM a kick in the balls.

      • 43. Rhie  |  November 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

        Actually I meant watching this site which I have been doing for months now and get quite a lot of support and information from.

        I don’t need to call either Senator. Both are fighting for equally enough for thirty people. I have written and called before to thank them, though.


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