According to the Washington Post on May 28, 2010, the House voted Thursday night to repeal “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” the controversial policy barring openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military. By a 234-194 vote, the House passed an amendment that would end the ban as long as a Pentagon study due for release by December 1, 2010 determines that the change will not affect the military’s ability to fight or recruit troops.
The passage marks the most aggressive step by Democrats in implementing President Obama’s campaign pledge to end the policy. President Obama hailed the votes, saying in a statement that the “legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.” The decision to pass the bill now, before the study is done, is a compromise between President and Obama and gay rights activists who have accused him of neglecting their issues.
Twenty-six Democrats voted against the amendment, while five Republicans voted for it. Gay rights activists were thrilled with the House action.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of the few openly gay members of Congress, blasted defenders of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” and said that such restrictions don’t exist in other militaries. “Those who tell me that the presence of gay and lesbian members of the military undermine the effectiveness of a fighting force and undermine unit cohesion must have never heard of Israel,” he said.
From 1995 through 2008, 12,000 persons have been dismissed from the military under the policy, with the armed forces losing some of its best Arab and Farsi speakers as a result.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillebrand, D-N.Y, stated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is wrong for our national security and is inconsistent with the moral foundation upon which our country is founded. Each time we discharge a member of our Armed Services just because of who they are, we weaken our military and our national security.”
Any change is unlikely to happen before next year. Pentagon officials have said it could take several months after completing the study until they are prepared to fully integrate gays into the armed forces as they consider such issues as whether gay and heterosexual troops could be required to share housing and whether the military would be required to extend benefits to same-sex partners.
Acceptance of homosexuality has grown substantially in the past generation.
The Washington Post, 5/28/2010