(Photo by Jarrett Terrill)
Was Unable to Vote Due to Scheduling Issues
On February 22, 2010, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced a bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This wasn’t the first time that Hastings sought to repeal the law that keeps gays from openly serving in the military. In July of 2009, Hastings also introduced a bill that would have prohibited the use of funds to carry out key provisions in Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
One could go as far as to say that repealing DADT has been Mr. Hastings’ primary legislative focus for the past couple of years. So when Mr. Hastings name appeared in the “Not Voting” category after the House of Representatives voted to move forward on repeal, it sparked some hand-wringing and speculation in South Florida.
Going back to the 2009 amendment that Hastings introduced and then withdrew, he said “I ultimately withdrew my amendment [for DADT repeal] due to pressure from the White House and some of my colleagues.” Who at the White House would have applied such pressure was the subject of much controversy and speculation in the blogosphere – with Rahm Emanuel’s name mentioned more than once.
As it turns out, Hastings was unable to vote on Thursday night due his prior scheduling but he supports the inclusion of the Murphy Amendment in the Defense Reauthorization bill and certainly would have voted for it if he had not already been scheduled in his official capacity with the Helsinki Commission at the time.
Any speculation that Mr. Hastings’ absence may have some sort of protest can be laid to rest by his statement at the Rules Committee’s meeting last Wednesday, May 26, when he said “I just wanted to say to Mr. Murphy how much I thank him. And I regret yesterday that I didn't get a chance to return your call. As he knows, I have been hand in hand with him on trying to eliminate what I perceive to be a very demeaning and self-destructive policy for our Nation. And toward that end, my great thanks and compliments and I support the amendment.”
Hastings, also noted during that meeting that the Murphy Amendment is a “compromise” and that he would prefer to “vote right now to repeal [DADT], which is what we ought to do. […] We ought to stop discriminating and it’s just that simple.”
But this critique does not translate to a lack of support for the current agenda which Hastings’ office has confirmed to SFGN that he fully supports. According to a staffer, Hastings is also “in favor of the final Defense Authorization bill which should be voted on today.”