The Massachusetts senator who succeeded Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in the Bay State says he’ll vote against repealing the Pentagon’s longstanding ban on allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) appears to be bucking the vast majority of residents of his state, 77 percent of whom supported getting rid of the military’s anti-gay ban in a recent poll. Even among Brown’s own supporters, 62 percent backed nixing the policy, the poll said, as did 67 percent of independents who supported him.
Brown said he will vote against a compromise reached Monday that would sunset the anti-gay law in the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he is a freshman member. The news was first reported by The Boston Globe.
The deal reached between the White House and Congress on Monday would allow Congress to move ahead with overturning the ban on gay servicemembers, pending the completion of a Pentagon study into rescinding the policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and kept on by President Obama, has said he wants his department to complete a review of the implications for removing the ban from the Uniform Code of Military Justice before any action is taken.
On Tuesday, Gates said he’d reluctantly accept Congress’ decision to vote to overturn the ban pending the Pentagon’s complete study.
Gay rights activists say the Pentagon’s even studying the issue is insulting.
“I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military,” Brown said in a statement to the Globe.
“For some time now, I have been seeking the opinions and recommendations of service chiefs, commanders in the field, and, most importantly, our junior soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines,” he added. “I believe we have a responsibility to the men and women of our armed forces to be thorough in our consideration of this issue and take their opinions seriously.”
Brown serves in the National Guard.