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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Gaining Momentum in Senate

Photo Courtesy - Pryor[dot]senate[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- The push to repeal the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays serving openly gained a significant boost Wednesday when Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas, threw his support behind the effort.

In September, Pryor was one of only two Democrats to vote against the repeal. His fellow Arkansas senator, Blanche Lincoln, was the other.

Wednesday Pryor announced that after reading the recent Pentagon report on the repeal he will now support the effort to change the policy. The repeal is attached to the annual defense authorization bill.

“I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Pryor said in a statement Wednesday morning. “I also accept the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ commitment that this policy can be implemented in a manner that does not harm our military’s readiness, recruitment, or retention.”

“We have the strongest military in the world and we will continue to do so by ensuring our troops have the resources necessary to carry out their missions. Therefore I support the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate Armed Services Committee and will support procedural measures to bring it to a vote this year.”

Pryor is not the only senator to decide to support the repeal after reviewing the Pentagon’s report. On Friday two moderate Republicans from New England – Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, did the same.

“Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed,” Brown said in a statement.

Collins said she too will vote in favor of repeal if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allows for sufficient debate on it and resolves the issue of the Bush tax cuts first.

On September 21 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, shot down the defense bill that included a repeal of the policy. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the bill past a GOP filibuster, but only secured 56 votes. However, one of the no votes was from Reid, who only took that vote in a procedural move to allow him to bring up the measure again at a later date.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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