Tag Archives: LGBT Issues

A Victory For America

19 Dec

Yesterday, the United States Senate overcame the ever present threat of a Republican filibuster and voted 63-33 to invoke cloture for an up or down vote on repealing the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)”.  Three hours later, the repeal passed the Senate with a vote of 65-31.  The House of Representatives had previously approved the measure, 250 to 175.

Some day, we’ll look back and wonder why it took so long to repeal it.  I think Senator McCain might feel differently as he was the primary opponent to the repeal of this policy, after supporting it in previous years.

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Enacted by President Clinton 17 years ago, DADT had led to the discharge of nearly 14,000 gay service members.  The policy has been the subject of controversy since Clinton backed it as a compromise in 1993, as gay rights advocates attacked it politically and sought relief in the courts. Earlier this year, a federal court declared the law unconstitutional and the decision is now under appeal.  However, the legislative repeal is the victory we all sought.  It is based upon the merits of the issue (not legal technicalities) and comes with the endorsement of a super majority of Senators, including eight Republicans.  It is a momentous occasion for civil rights in America.  President Obama released a statement thanking the Congress for making this possible.

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.

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.

As a veteran who served with dozens of LGBT airmen, seamen, soldiers and marines who served their country in fear, yesterday was a day filled with pride, remorse and hope.

The remorse is due to the fact that I served with three intelligence analysts and Arab linguists who were discharged from the Air Force when it was discovered that they were homosexual.  Losing those airmen in the service of our nation, after hundreds of thousands of dollars in training, in fields crucial to national security, made America less safe.  Soon, that will no longer be the case.

I hope that this victory serves as a penultimate chapter in this long battle for LGBT rights and that we will soon remove the last legislative barriers to full civil rights for all citizens.