Senate Repeals Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
After a year long battle that looked all but lost even a week ago thanks to Republican exploitation of Senate procedure, the Senate today finally voted to repeal the 17 year old Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, paving the way for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the United States military:
WASHINGTON — Capping a 17-year political struggle, the Senate on Saturday repealed the Pentagon’s ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military.
By a vote of 65 to 31, the Senate sent the bill to President Obama, who had campaigned on ending the Clinton-era policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” which allows gay members of the armed forces to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret. A cloture vote of 63-33 earlier in the day had indicated that there was easily enough support to push the measure to final passage. The House had passed the measure, 250 to 175, on Wednesday.
“By ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after the cloture vote. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”
The repeal would not take effect for at least 60 days while some other procedural steps are taken. In addition the bill requires the defense secretary to determine that policies are in place to carry out the repeal “consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”
Still, some equated the passage with the decision to end racial segregation in the military. It followed a review by the Pentagon that found little concern in the military about ending the ban and that was backed by Pentagon officials as a better alternative to a court-ordered end.
Backers of the repeal said it was long past time to end what they saw as a discriminatory practice that cost valuable personnel and forced troops to lie to serve their country.
“I don’t care who you love,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said as the debate over cloture opened. “If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.”
This is, of course, long overdue but it’s better late than never I suppose. Now, we hand it over to the military to implement this change. Something tells me it will go a lot smoother than anyone expects.