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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reaction to House Passage of DADT Repeal

By Karen Ocamb -

Rep. Tammy Baldwin at the podium
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell needs to end and it needs to end today,” Rep. Patrick Murphy, a veteran of the Iraq war and Democratic sponsor of HR 6520, the bill to repeal DADT that passed the House 250-175 Wednesday afternoon, told a sizable audience on a conference call sponsored by the Courage Campaign after the vote. He said the prospects of the standalone repeal bill passing the Senate are “looking very good,” noting that Republican Sens. Murkowski, Collins and Brown had all “expressed interest.” Murphy didn’t mention her, but Sen. Olympic Snow said she would vote for repeal, too. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not yet scheduled to the bill for a Senate debate and vote.
Republicans are key to repealing DADT and R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, was thrilled by the 15 GOP votes in the House. On his first day as ED, day Tuesday, May 25th, Cooper said “I had to scramble to get votes [for DADT repeal]. It was that same week I requested Minority Leader to not whip Republicans so we could gain more votes on the amendment as well as the final Defense authorization bill.”
That May, the five Republican House repeal votes were: Judy Biggert, Joe Cao, Charles Djou, Ron Paul. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In seven months, Cooper brought over the 15 who voted for repeal on Wednesday – including California Reps. Mary Bono Mack, David Dreier and John Campbell.
Cooper says that repealing DADT and allowing lesbians and gays to serve openly is supported by conservatives and Republicans across the country. In a statement after the vote, Cooper said:
“This policy has been studied, it was subject of multiple Congressional hearings, and tried in a federal court of law. The consistent analysis concludes ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is not necessary to military readiness but is, in fact, corrosive to the core values of our armed forces. Senators have the chance now to stand on the right side of history by voting for the integrity of our men and women in uniform. Senators who choose to ignore the will of the American people and the recommendations of the Department of Defense limit the full potential of our armed services.”
Congressional Democrats reacted enthusiastically, as well, including openly lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin, (WI-02), co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus:
“Integrity is a hallmark of military service. Yet for 17 years we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie. In my opinion, that policy is un-American. I’m proud of our vote today to end that discriminatory policy. It now falls on the Senate to do the right thing.”
Here’s the press release from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office:
WASHINGTON, DC – Key House leaders on the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy released the following statements today after the House passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-08) and co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, which will allow for its repeal:
“Today the House voted once again to empower the Defense Department to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ – a policy of officially-sanctioned discrimination,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “It forces brave men and women to lie about who they are, and it compromises the military’s core value of integrity every day. The majority of our troops want it repealed. And the leaders of our Armed Forces – Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – want it repealed, as well. The Senate must join the House and vote for a responsible end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so we can send it to the President’s desk for his signature.”
“With today’s vote, we are a step closer to dismantling a policy that is not only discriminatory but is harmful to our national security,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “We’ve lost thousands of patriotic, highly-trained troops – infantry officers, fighter pilots, and even Arabic translators – who were kicked out of the military just because they happened to be gay. Enough is enough. We’ve studied the issue, we’ve heard from our troops, we’ve debated repeal. Now it’s time to act. Democrats and Republicans came together in the House to pass repeal, and I urge Senators of both parties to follow suit and put an end to this policy once and for all,” Murphy concluded.
“America has always been the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “Repealing the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy will honor the service and sacrifice of all who dedicated their lives to protecting the American people.”
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn stated: “Today is a proud day. I have been associated with this issue for 36 years, 18 as an administrator in state government, supervising the investigations of cases of discrimination. It impacts me in an emotional way, because I can remember how difficult it was to investigate cases of mistreatment when we had to separate out race, sex and gender. When I had an opportunity to help make this change in law a reality as Majority Whip, I saw it as a labor of love. I am proud that we got to this point once again, to repeal this discriminatory policy that has weakened our military by either discharging gay and lesbian soldiers who have defended our country heroically or forcing thousands of soldiers to lie about who they are. I believe the military can implement a change in the policy without disrupting readiness, effectiveness or unit cohesion. I hope the Senate will act quickly and end this injustice.”
Congressman Barney Frank (MA-04) said, “Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer, the House has now given the Senate a full range of options that should eliminate any procedural obstacle to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Since more than 60 Senators have publicly committed to supporting this bill, there is no reason that we cannot accomplish this important goal before we adjourn for the year.”
“Integrity is a hallmark of military service,” said Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (WI-02), Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “Yet for 17 years we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie. In my opinion, that policy is un-American. I’m proud of our vote today to end that discriminatory policy. It now falls on the Senate to do the right thing,” Baldwin said.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest or be fired if they choose to be honest,” said Congressman Jared Polis (CO-02). “It’s a law that not only is hurtful to the men and women who put themselves at risk serving in our armed forces, but it’s a law that’s hurtful to our national security and must be repealed. Regardless of their political party, people recognize that on the battlefield it doesn’t matter if a soldier is gay or straight; what matters is they get the job done to protect our country.”
Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin On House Vote (250-175) to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
It’s an historic day.
As founder and Co-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in Congress, I can tell you that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been one of our Caucus’ top priorities and we have educated and cajoled and counted votes.  Our Equality Caucus of 91 bipartisan Members has been moved to action by the stories of gay and lesbian military professionals whose lives and livelihoods have been damaged by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’  We have been moved to action as discharge after discharge have deprived our Armed Forces of the honorable service and needed skills of patriotic Americans who want to serve their country and be honest about who they are.
Integrity is a hallmark of military service.  Yet for 17 years, we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie.  In my opinion, that policy is un-American.
This is also an important step in the march to full equality for LGBT Americans.  Particularly so because ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ represents an instance where discrimination is written into our nations laws—a constant reminder of second-class citizenship.
I want to extend my gratitude to my colleagues here today:  Mr. Murphy for his role in shepherding this bill through today;  Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer for their tenacity in pushing this not just once, but twice, because it is the right thing to do;  Major Almy, for your courage, your service to your country, and your willingness to tell you story.
Now, let’s talk about the Senate.  Our vote today is indeed an historic occasion, but we’re holding the celebration until the Senate takes up this bill and we’ve sent it to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
Make no mistake: the House made a bold and very strong statement today that we’re ready to move forward and see this repeal through.  The President is ready to move forward.  The military is ready to move forward.  The American people are ready to move forward.  It now falls to the Senate to do the right thing!
The arguments have been made, the evidence has been proffered, and, now, the House of Representatives has voted twice!  The time is right for Congress to end this discriminatory policy once and for all!”
Statement by the President on the House Passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
“I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010.  Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks.   Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed , they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently.  As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security.
I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue.  I have consistently called for the repeal of this law.  Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves.  We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.”
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell made the following statement after a House vote on Dec. 15:
“Secretary Gates is pleased that the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. He encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts.”


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