Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

AT LAST! "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is repealed!

After seventeen years, the fight to end the shameful, discriminatory policy that has infamously become known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has succeeded, at long last.

By a vote of sixty five to thirty one, the United States Senate today joined the House in approving legislation that rescinds the policy. (The vote in the House on Wednesday was two hundred and fifty to one hundred and seventy five).

Earlier, the Senate overcame a filibuster on a sixty three to thirty three vote, with the help of several Republicans (George Voinovich, Mark Kirk, Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe), who were persuaded to stop playing politics and vote their consciences. No Democrat voted to continue the filibuster.

All of the Pacific Northwest's senators voted in favor of ending debate on the repeal legislation (putting an end to the filibuster) except for Idaho's two Republican senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo.

The breakdown for our region's Senate delegation was the same on final passage. Richard Burr of North Carolina and John Ensign of Nevada opted to join with the aforementioned Republican senators on final passage, abandoning their caucus, which mostly stuck behind Mitch McConnell and John McCain.

The Republican opposition was shamefully led by John McCain, who has taken a beating on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart throughout the autumn for his crusade against equality in our military.

President Obama congratulated the Senate and said he looked forward to signing the repeal legislation into law shortly.

"Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend," President Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"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. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love."

"The Senate did the right thing today in giving men and women who serve our country the ability to do so without fear of discrimination," added Senator Maria Cantwell, in a news release sent to NPI. "This is a victory for U.S. service members across the country and around the world who for more than a decade have been subjected to unnecessary and arbitrary discharge from the military under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. It is a victory for military readiness because it will enable our force to retain volunteers who serve honorably."

Senator Jeff Merkley echoed Cantwell's sentiments.

“This is a victory for equal rights. And it is a victory for our national security as well. All men and women serving our nation should be able to do so without hiding who they are. And our nation is well served by utilizing the talents of all Americans."

We at NPI thank Congress for belatedly acting to put an end to the travesty that became informally known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Although this discriminatory policy will not end overnight, its demise is now guaranteed.

For that, we are truly grateful.

The institution that calls itself the Congress of the United States of America has finally done something progressive for a change. How refreshing.


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