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Senate Votes to Repeal DADT

On Saturday, the Senate voted 63 to 33 to end the debate on the stand-alone Don’t Ask Don’t Tell legislation and 65 to 31 to repeal the bill. For the past 17 years, the policy has prohibited the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation and calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. In order to repeal DADT, President Obama must sign the bill and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates must determine that repeal is consistent with military readiness, effectiveness, and unit cohesiveness. In addition, the bill will not take effect until after a required 60 day period. Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, stated triumphantly, “Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Today, our federal government recognized that ALL men and women have the right to openly serve the country they believe in. That it doesn’t matter who you are, or who you love – you are not a second-class citizen.” Last week, the measure to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), introduced by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA), passed in the House by a vote of 250 to 175. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained an amendment to repeal DADT, passed in the House in May but failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to overcome the Republican filibuster. Both US Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mullen have urged Congress to repeal DADT and endorsed the Pentagon study on DADT released at the beginning of this month. The report included a comprehensive survey of military service personnel and their spouses on their views of gays and lesbians openly serving in the military and found that the repeal of DADT would pose low risk to military effectiveness. Seventy percent of those surveyed stated they thought repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.

Sources:

Human Rights Campaign Statement 12/18/10; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network 12/18/10; NPR 12/18/10; New York Times 12/18/10; Feminist Daily Newswire; 12/16/10