Senate votes to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell"

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Saturday December 18, 2010

"Don't ask, don't tell" will soon become history!

The U.S. Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday, Dec. 18, to repeal the law that currently bans openly gay and lesbian servicemembers.

"OutServe looks forward to the day that repeal of this law is signed by our Commander in Chief and the certification process is complete so we can all begin to serve openly and honestly," said JD Smith (a pseudonym), the active-duty co-director of OutServe. "Certification must take place as soon as possible as gay and lesbian service members will be in limbo over the next few months. As the troops will interpret today's actions as an end in the policy, only a delay in certification will increase the lack of clarity among the ranks."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, also applauded the vote.

"America made history today," he said. " After 17 years of this failed and discriminatory law, gay and lesbian service members will soon be able to serve with the full honor and integrity the uniform demands. No longer will patriots be forced to lie in order to serve the country they love and are willing to die for."

Robin McGhee, co-founder of GetEqual, agreed.

"We are thrilled today that the Senate has taken one more step toward full legal equality for all Americans," she said. "Today's vote is one more step forward in not only retiring this discriminatory policy, but also in the larger march toward equality and justice for LGBT Americans. While today's vote doesn't yet finalize repeal, and while the legislation is far from perfect -- leaving our transgender sisters and brothers in the grip of discrimination -- we are happy to have finally moved past this hurdle. Though we have many other hurdles ahead of us to truly and fully end military discrimination for the entire LGBT community, we look forward to the fight ahead to repeal this policy once and for all."

The vote came hours after the Senate voted 63-33 to allow debate on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Senators Scott Brown [R-Mass.], Susan Collins [R-Maine], Olympia Snowe [R-Maine], Mark Kirk [D-Ill.], Lisa Murkowski [R-Alaska] and George Voinovich [R-Ohio] broke ranks with their own party and backed the measure.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law next week.

"As the President has long said, ending 'don't ask, don't tell,' and allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military, will strengthen our national security while upholding the basic equality on which this nation was founded," said the White House in a statement. "The President looks forward to signing the bill into law."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.