Nightly News | September 21, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: This was the day that Americans who opposed the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the US military thought maybe the policy of don't ask, don't tell would be repealed. It didn't happen. But before that there was high drama on Capitol Hill over what would happen; even a huge celebrity had made her plea for a change in the policy. Our own Kelly O'Donnell 's been covering this story. She's with us tonight from Washington . Kelly , good evening.
KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Hi, Brian. Well, the emotions on this run deep and the intensity playing out is, to some degree, about the future of the policy itself. And a lot of it is about politics, with just a few weeks to go before the midterm elections.
Senator JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona): This is a blatant political ploy in order to try to galvanize the political base of the other side, which is facing a losing election.
Senator CARL LEVIN (Democrat, Armed Service Committee Chairman): It is wrong to suggest that the fight legislatively is election driven.
O'DONNELL: Republicans effectively blocked repealing the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military. So the president's often repeated promise goes unfulfilled.
President BARACK OBAMA: I will end don't ask, don't tell. That's my commitment to you.
O'DONNELL: Failing to deliver has angered liberal voters. That frustration took the stage Monday in Maine where music sensation Lady Gaga toned down her looks and turned up the heat.
LADY GAGA: Doesn't it seem to you that we should send home the prejudice, the straight soldier who hates the gay soldier?
O'DONNELL: They chose Maine hoping to win over Senator Susan Collins , a moderate Republican .
Senator SUSAN COLLINS: I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's only fair.
O'DONNELL: But today, Collins and all Republicans voted no.
Senator JAMES INHOFE (Republican, Oklahoma): That it's totally political, it's all set up for the November 2nd election.
O'DONNELL: Republicans claimed Democrats were rushing to fire up their voters and refused to wait for a December Pentagon report on changing the policy. Democrats say top brass already want to end the ban.
Sen. LEVIN: Secretary Gates , a Republican, decides this policy must change because there's an election coming up? Of course not.
O'DONNELL: And Democratic leaders have tried to pass the repeal by adding it on to a big military spending package. And two Democrats voted no, both from Arkansas , including Senator Blanche Lincoln , who is at serious risk of losing
her seat in November. Brian: And the whole mess in Washington continues for another day. Kelly O'Donnell with our report tonight. Kelly , thanks.