A key centrist Democratic senator said Wednesday that he now favors repealing the military's ban on openly gay service members.
Sen. Mark Pyor (Ark.) explained that he was convinced by the results of the Pentagon's 10-month study that showed repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" would not have adverse long-term effects on the military. "I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal 'Don’t ask, don’t tell.' 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," he said in a statement. "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 indeed a "key" Democrat--he voted against cloture on the defense authorization bill the first time and had seemed lukewarm at best on repeal as late as last week. Pryor is not only committing to vote for a policy change opposed by the chiefs of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, the self-proclaimed pro-life senator is also voting for a bill that pro-life groups say will turn military hospitals into abortion clinics. He's up for reelection in 2014.
While Pryor's vote puts Democrats a step closer toward repealing DADT, Harry Reid's planned vote on repeal tonight may not pass because Republican senator Susan Collins, who supports repeal, wants time to debate the bill and wants senators to be able to offer amendments to the bill:
Collins has pointed out to Reid that the average number of days spent debating previous defense authorization bills has been 11 days, with an average of 14 or so amendments considered. Collins has asked Reid to come up with a comparable offer, the spokesman says.