Better late than never. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor has finally declared he supports repeal of the law that bans open gay military service. His statement:

On many previous occasions, I have said that I would oppose repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until I had heard from our servicemen and women regarding this policy. I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I also accept the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ commitment that this policy can be implemented in a manner that does not harm our military’s readiness, recruitment, or retention. We have the strongest military in the world and we will continue to do so by ensuring our troops have the resources necessary to carry out their missions. Therefore, I support the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate Armed Services Committee and will support procedural measures to bring it to a vote this year.

Dare I say it? This appears to be a stronger statement than issued to date by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has not, that I’m aware, committed to bringing it to a vote this year by opposing filibusters.

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Commentators think Pryor’s belated addition to the repeal vote enhances slightly the slim chance that a vote on repeal could occur before the end of the year. By this account, Democrats will get a vote, Republicans will filibuster and then Democrats will cave. The Obama model. And Pryor will have cast a vote of no practical effect, which shouldn’t hurt him too badly in four years, when national sentiment in favor of repeal should move from 70 to 85 or 90 percent.