The final vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” occurred at approximately 3:20 p.m. ET today, and passed in the Senate by a vote of 65-31. Full coverage here.
WASHINGTON — In a closely watched Saturday session of the U. S. Senate, Senators voted on the cloture vote to end debate regarding the measure to end the ban on openly gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces. The cloture vote passed 63-33.
Republican Senators focused on arguments that have been made over this past year and also expressed their annoyance at Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) procedural maneuver which brought the legislation to the floor without their ability to add amendments to it.
Sen. James Inhofe, (R-Okla.), reiterated the statements made earlier in the week by U. S. Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos who said that repeal would kill or injure marines by loss of limbs as repeal would cause “distractions in combat scenarios.”
In support of repeal, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) countered the GOP stance by saying: “I cannot think of a policy that greater undermines the integrity of our armed services.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) launched a strongly worded partisan attack arguing that the efforts by the Senate’s Democratic majority is ignoring and “repudiating” the will of the American people.
He too also referred to the statements made by the Marine Corps Commandant saying that “this repeal will cost Marine lives.”
McCain acknowledged that the bill would pass and then he said that “gold stars” will be put up all over America, implying deaths would occur as a result of the repeal and then he stated that most Americans are not partaking of the liberal elite’s views on the repeal, taking aiming at the “elite schools that bar military recruiters” due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“We are doing great damage” by passing this legislation, McCain said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), who was a contemporary of slain San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, an early gay rights pioneer, said that qualifications for military service must be “courage, competence, and willingness to serve” and that persons wanting to serve should not have to “conceal true selves.”
The Republican minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), began his opposition by stating again that he was discouraged by disallowing amendments to the repeal measure. He also referred to McCain’s statements that the Democratic majority was overruling the will of the American people and then noted that McCain had stated the “need” for further hearings especially to hear from senior enlisted personnel. He stated that not enough review had been accomplished in the Senate.
Reid, who took the floor immediately after McConnell, started off by saying that McConnell’s comments would bring a big yawn by the American people since the GOP has had an obstructionist agenda.
He took the GOP to task by saying that requirements for repeal have in fact been met and that the study and hearing that already have been held is more than sufficient to have the Senate enact the repeal.
Reid said that, “To suggest that there hasn’t been hearing after hearing on this is just nonsensical.” He then quoted the late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), considered by many to be the father of the modern GOP conservative movement, by saying “you don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”
McCain stood and read the Marine Corps Commandant’s remarks from the press briefing on Tuesday into the official Senate record just before the cloture vote again stressing that repeal of DADT would cost lives.
In a statement released immediately after the cloture vote, Michael Mitchell, the Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats said, “Overcoming incredible obstructionism by Republicans, the Senate has finally reached cloture on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and we can now go to a simple majority vote on a law that almost 80% of Americans want to see come to an end.”
“We call on the Senate to finish the job and repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with all due haste,” said Mitchell.
Update: The final vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is expected to occur at approximately 3 p.m. ET today, and requires only a simple majority, not 60 votes.