WASHINGTON — In a 65-31 vote this afternoon, the United States Senate has voted to repeal the 17 year old ban on Gays & Lesbians openly serving in the armed forces of the United States. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature into law.
In an interview with MetroWeekly’s political correspondent Chris Geidner, a senior White House aide intimately familiar with the administration’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal efforts was unwilling to say whether President Obama agrees with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that DADT-related investigations and “discharges should be halted immediately.”
Geidner also reported that the prospect of ending discharges and investigations immediately was raised by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis, who told MetroWeekly:
“I think it’s a practical, realistic approach that reflects where we stand today. There’s this hiatus, there’s this limbo, and who wants to be the last service member discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
As Sarvis said in a statement, “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.”
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats released this statement with the passage of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the Senate:
“It’s hard to find words to express how happy and relieved we are at National Stonewall Democrats that the despicable Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has finally been repealed. For the last 17 years, we have watched many in our country pretend DADT was necessary and right, when in fact it was neither. Today’s action by the US Senate begins to close a chapter of discrimination in the military based on sexual orientation that is hundreds of years long. Today, President Obama can say that he delivered on a big promise to our community and to the American people.
“As Americans, we can be proud that integrity and justice are the big winners today, not partisan politics.
“It goes without saying that we are very grateful for the hard work of Senate Democrats – not least of which Majority Leader Reid and Chairman Levin – who kept the path to repeal open when we thought it was lost, and who provided the vast majority of votes for repeal. It would be ungracious of us to not also thank the of Republican Senators who showed courage and bucked the obstructionist leadership of their party by voting to help restore integrity to our military.
“We also thank the tireless work of the patriots in the LGBT and allied communities who have been involved with the repeal effort, and we thank our own NSD members for their thousands upon thousands of letters, phone calls and in-person meetings that helped move the country toward repeal.
“Finally, we continue to be deeply appreciative of the brave women and men in uniform who currently serve and have served our country, some at incredible sacrifice, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We know the heavy burden that serving silently has been for them and we are humbled by their service under such difficult circumstances. We have been honored to have been able to fight for them in our own way – as they fight and have fought for our country.”