Huffpost Chicago

Mark Kirk Votes NO: Joins Party To Block Debate Of Don't Ask, Don't Tell In Senate

Posted: Updated:

On Thursday, a major defense authorization bill that included the repeal of the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law was blocked by Senate Republicans--and freshman Senator Mark Kirk joined in.

Kirk voted to filibuster a procedural motion to start considering the 2011 defense authorization bill, preventing it from being voted on.

"It's clear that Republicans don't want to hold a vote on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "They want to block a bill on this at all costs, even if it means not passing the defense authorization bill for the first time in 48 years."

On Wednesday afternoon, a Kirk staffer told HuffPost Chicago that the Senator had not formally announced a decision on the matter, but was been reading the Pentagon's report.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for the Senate to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," based on the report, which showed that the majority of of U.S. military members support the repeal.

Illinois voters have been making calls to Sen. Kirk's Washington D.C. office all week, and a Kirk staffer--who did not want to be named-- said the majority of callers wanted to see the policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military repealed.

"A lot more [callers] do want it repealed," he said.

Still, Kirk voted to block the repeal, defying the wishes of 78 percent of the American people and military leadership.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell wasn't the only measure blocked by Kirk and other Senate Republicans Thursday.

The Illinois Senator previously vowed to support a bill that would give up to $7.4 billion to workers who were sickened while cleaning up the World Trade Center following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The 9/11 health care bill was passed by the House in September, and Kirk told its supporters that he would vote for it when it came up in the Senate.

Well, it came up in the Senate--but political posturing prevented him from voting to move it forward.

The New York Post reports:

Kirk, who earlier committed to support the bill, also has pledged to block any legislation until the tax deal is finished -- and he is ready to vote against the 9/11 bill today.

The senator "absolutely supports the bill but will stick to the GOP agreement in the letter on those cloture votes," a source close to Kirk told The Post.

Without Kirk's support, Democrats were not able to bring the health care bill for 9/11 workers up for a vote.

On Wednesday, Anthony Martinez, co-Executive Director of LGBT Change, said he hoped Kirk would fulfill his campaign promise to be an independent "and do what his constituents actually want him to do as opposed to standing with his party." But standing with his party appears to be the road Mr. Kirk has taken so far.

"This vote shows how broken the Senate is and how politicking comes before all else," Martinez said in a statement Thursday. "We will continue fighting hard to get repeal done. We will continue fighting for our troops and will not stop until this is done and our LGBTQ soldiers are able to be serve openly and honestly."