Two Miami Republicans Break with Party to Vote for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal

Lincoln Diaz-Balart
In one of his last votes of his 18-year congressional career, retiring congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart was just one of 15 Republicans in the House to vote to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He was joined in voting for the repeal by fellow Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, perhaps the fiercest Republican defender of gay rights still in office. The rest of Florida's delegation broke along party lines with all Democrats voting for the repeal, and all other Republicans, including Lincoln's brother Mario Diaz-Balart, voting against it.

"I believe that sexual preference should not even be a point of reference when judging individuals," Lincoln Diaz-Balart said on the house floor.

Lincoln, compared to many other Republicans, has made many pro-gay votes before. However, his score on GLBT issues in the last congress was only 29% according to the Human Rights Campaign. He has, however, voted several times for legislation that prevents employees from basing hiring decisions on sexual orientation.

Though, Diaz-Balart doesn't have much incentive to play party politics anymore. He's retiring at the end of this session, and apparently decided to vote with his conscious.

He'll be replaced next year by brother Mario who jumped over form his own neighboring district.

Ros-Lehtinen, who's district include gay meccas like South Beach and Key West, has long broke with her party to champion gay rights. She scored an impressive 92% from HRC this year, higher than many Democrats.

The stand-alone repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell passed the house 250-175. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has indicated he'll try to get the bill passed in the final days of the session. The repeal seems to have enough votes in the Senate, so it's only a matter of time of political gamesmanship.

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