Wow. After 17 years of living under the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, we’re one step closer to repealing the ban on open and honest service for lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans. Make no mistake — DADT is not yet repealed. There is still work to do. There is still a long process ahead, but we vow to keep the pressure up until the policy is fully and completely repealed. There are still people — especially our transgender sisters and brothers — who are unjustly left behind by this legislation.
Today I am especially mindful of the brave men and women who have worn the uniform—the ones who lost their jobs to an unjust policy, those who served in silence, and the many active duty and reserve personnel who this year told their superiors that sexual orientation shouldn’t matter in the U.S. military. Everyone who has served to defend our country deserves our profound thanks.
“This vote represents an historic step forward for this country, and it will very likely be a life-changing moment for gay and lesbian troops,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former multi-lingual Army interrogator who was discharged under DADT. “While we still have a long road ahead, including a final passage vote, the certification process, and a yet-to-be-determined implementation period, those who defend our freedom while living in fear for their careers will finally breathe a sigh of relief tonight, and those who have fallen victim to this policy in years past will finally begin to see true closure and redemption on the horizon.”
Here’s the skinny: the Senate vote was the last major legislative obstacle. But even after the President signs this law, no one can serve openly. Certification is first required from the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of Defense. It’s part of a backroom deal cut months ago, and it’s ridiculous. We’ve seen how the Administration has dragged their feet over the past two years on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. We can’t let that happen again. We have to mount a fight to finish the job, and we need your help.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
“Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they’re still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
“This vote today marks a critical step toward creating a path that could end in lesbian, gay and bisexual people finally being able to serve openly, honestly, and to great benefit of our country. Three-quarters of Americans say ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should be repealed, as do top military leaders. We thank those senators who supported cloture today, and urge the full Senate to pass ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal. It’s time to end this costly and discriminatory policy. Until then, the lives and careers of thousands of courageous, qualified and patriotic service members will continue to hang in the balance.”
OutServe looks forward to the day that repeal of this law is signed by our Commander in Chief and we can all begin to serve openly and honestly. We will remove the cloud that hangs over our gay and lesbian troops and live in a world where constantly worrying about losing everything we work and live for could be in jeopardy will finally end. As we await the implementation of repeal, expected to happen over the next year, OutServe is sensitive to the needs of our active duty troops and will remain a partner in making that transition smooth. There will come a moment when it will finally be completely safe to ‘come out’ and OutServe will be there to support the troops – gay and straight – when that day comes, hopefully soon.
“It is time for our country to move forward. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports letting lesbian and gay troops serve openly and with honor. The recent survey of military personnel and their families shows an overwhelming majority – 90 percent – are fine serving alongside a gay or lesbian servicemember. Our military and the security of our country will be strengthened by finally ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “This has been a heroic political battle by LGBT advocates who refused to give up. We congratulate the many lesbian and gay servicemembers who risked or sacrificed their careers to fight for justice; the many LGBT advocacy groups and allies who fought with them; and the members of Congress who voted for justice.”
“Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Plenty of people had already planned the funeral for this legislation. Today, we pulled out a victory from what was almost certain defeat just a few days ago. We are grateful to President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Lieberman, Collins and countless others for their dogged determination to repeal DADT.”
Six Republicans joined 57 Democrats and independents in voting to move forward on repeal of the Clinton-era policy. “GOProud is thankful to every Senator, regardless of party affiliation, who voted for repeal,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s Executive Director. “GOProud is particularly thankful and proud of the votes of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL). GOProud was the only gay organization who endorsed and supported both Senator Brown and Senator Kirk in their respective elections.” These Senators joined a chorus of conservative foreign policy leaders like former Vice President Dick Cheney, potential 2012 Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Liz Cheney of Keep America Safe, and Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer in supporting repeal of this failed policy.
People For The American Way
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is an unjust and ineffective policy, and it has burdened our armed services for far too long. For years, the policy’s proponents have put a far-right social agenda ahead of national security and human dignity, brushing aside studies that prove its harmfulness and ignoring polls that show huge majorities opposing it. The Senate’s vote today marks a triumph of common sense over cynicism and brings us one step closer to a day when all qualified, patriotic Americans can serve our country openly and with dignity.”