Alaska Sens. Murkowski, Begich vote with majority on 'don't ask, don't tell'

McClatchy NewspapersDecember 20, 2010 

Both of Alaska's senators on Saturday voted to repeal the military's ban on openly gay troops.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, and Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, first voted Saturday morning to end a filibuster, which paved the way for an afternoon vote on the repeal. It passed 65-31.

Murkowski joined seven other Republicans in supporting the repeal.

"Our military leaders have made a compelling case that they can successfully implement a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' " she said. "It is infinitely preferable for Congress to repeal the law, and allow the service chiefs to develop and execute a new policy, than to invite a court-ordered reversal of the law with no allowance for a military-directed implementation. I've heard from Alaskans across the state who believe it's time to end this discriminatory policy, and I agree with them."

Begich, in a statement released after the vote, said: "I have long-supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and am pleased we can now move forward on ending this outdated, discriminatory and harmful policy.

"After an exhaustive review where thousands of military members were interviewed, 70 percent polled said the repeal would have a positive or no impact on unit effectiveness, our top military leaders have assured us the forces are ready, and this change can be carried out with minimal disruption."

Earlier in the day, both Murkowski and Begich voted to allow debate on the DREAM Act, the other controversial topic in front of the Senate in a rare Saturday session. The measure, which gives students who are in the U.S. illegally a chance to become residents, failed 55-41. Murkowski was one of three Republicans to support allowing debate to go forward on it; five Democrats voted against it.

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