The two candidates facing a runoff in the Democratic nomination for this year’s U.S. Senate race have spoken out on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the anti-gay law that prevents open and honest military service by gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans.
As the national debate on DADT was heating up earlier this week, the White House announced its support of a new route to repeal. Leaders also announced the House and Senate would vote on a measure to repeal the law this week.
Cal Cunnigham and Elaine Marshall both released statements on the matter.
Cunnigham, a former North Carolina state senator, said he was pleased to learn of the White House’s support of a compromise repeal, which would take DADT out of federal law and return it to a policy status within the Department of Defense. He also said he would “take a leadership role in fighting to strengthen our Armed Services by ending discrimination.”
Cunningham added, “”Sexual orientation plays no role in the good order and discipline of our troops on the battlefield. This policy has cost America more than 13,000 gay and lesbian service members during a time when we’ve needed them the most. The policy is inconsistent with America’s values and our military’s values — and it’s flat out wrong. That is why we must repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ now.”
Current North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall also voiced her support for repeal, urging Republican Sen. Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to join repeal efforts.
“I am pleased to hear that significant progress has been made in the last few days on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Marshall said. “This is a seriously misguided policy, and it is high time we honor ALL men and women in this country who are willing to serve.”
Marshall added, “I call on Richard Burr, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, to join with fellow Senators and repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by the end of the year.”
A vote on DADT repeal is expected on May 27, on the House floor and in the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27.
In other campaign news, the two candidates also received key endorsements recently. Primary challenger Ken Lewis announced his support of Marshall, who led in primary results with 36 percent of the vote. Chapel Hill businessman Jim Neal, who ran in the 2008 Democratic primary against current Sen. Kay Hagan, endorsed Cunningham. Neal was the first openly gay Senate candidate for either of the two major parties in North Carolina.
Cunningham and Marshall will face off for their chance to run against incumbent Burr on June 22.