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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reactions to the Senate Vote to Repeal DADT

from President Obama -
Moments ago, the Senate voted to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "When that bill reaches my desk, I will sign it, and this discriminatory law will be repealed. Gay and lesbian service members -- brave Americans who enable our freedoms -- will no longer have to hide who they are. The fight for civil rights, a struggle that continues, will no longer include this one. This victory belongs to you. Without your commitment, the promise I made as a candidate would have remained just that. Instead, you helped prove again that no one should underestimate this movement. Every phone call to a senator on the fence, every letter to the editor in a local paper, and every message in a congressional inbox makes it clear to those who would stand in the way of justice: We will not quit. This victory also belongs to Senator Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and our many allies in Congress who refused to let politics get in the way of what was right. Like you, they never gave up, and I want them to know how grateful we are for that commitment.

Will you join me in thanking them by adding your name to Organizing for America's letter?

I will make sure these messages are delivered -- you can also add a comment about what the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" means to you. As Commander in Chief, I fought to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because it weakens our national security and military readiness. It violates the fundamental American principles of equality and fairness. But this victory is also personal. I will never know what it feels like to be discriminated against because of my sexual orientation. But I know my story would not be possible without the sacrifice and struggle of those who came before me -- many I will never meet, and can never thank. I know this repeal is a crucial step for civil rights, and that it strengthens our military and national security. I know it is the right thing to do. But the rightness of our cause does not guarantee success, and today, celebration of this historic step forward is tempered by the defeat of another -- the DREAM Act. I am incredibly disappointed that a minority of senators refused to move forward on this important, commonsense reform that most Americans understand is the right thing for our country. On this issue, our work must continue. Today, I'm proud that we took these fights on.

Thank you,

from the ACLU-
WASHINGTON - The Senate today voted to pass legislation repealing the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, sending the historic bill to the president's desk for signature. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act of 2010 (H.R. 2965) was passed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The American Civil Liberties Union lauded the vote and urged President Obama to swiftly sign the bill into law.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was passed into law in 1993 and, since 1994, more than 14,000 qualified and committed service members, both men and women, have been discharged under the policy simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. The momentum to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been building for nearly a year with President Obama calling for its repeal in his State of the Union address and the highest ranking members of the military calling for the policy to end.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"For nearly two decades, gay and lesbian service members have been forced to hide who they are in order to serve their country. That will soon end. The significance of this vote should not be underestimated and should serve as confirmation that we should not and cannot codify discrimination into our laws.
"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' had no place in a country where we value the equal treatment of all our citizens. We urge President Obama to swiftly sign this bill and ensure that our gay and lesbian service members can serve their country with honesty and dignity."

from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand -
I've got some wonderful news! The Senate has just voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Finally, we have overturned the ban on openly gay men and women serving in our military. Not only does DADT prevent our brave LGBT servicemen and women from serving their country freely and truthfully, but it poses a threat to the readiness of our armed forces and stands in direct opposition to the equality and fairness that America stands for.
It's been a long, hard road, and I couldn't have done it without your support. Yes, I've always known that the American people are overwhelmingly in favor of repeal. But you've given me what no poll ever could - the inspiration and encouragement to keep pressing on.
What a great feeling it is to know that you've accomplished a goal that will literally change the lives of thousands of people. But we're not done yet.
The Senate still has some very important business to finish before we adjourn for the year. Next week, I'm aiming for a Christmas miracle to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act so we can finally fulfill the moral obligation we have to our 9/11 heroes and provide them with the health care they need.
Whether I'm fighting for gay and lesbian servicemembers or for our 9/11 heroes, I can't tell you how much it means to have you by my side.
As we approach the final days of this Congress, I'll be in touch to update you on our ongoing progress.
All the best,

 from Sevicemembers Legal Defense Network -
This afternoon, we watched with enormous pride as the U.S. Senate passed the stand-alone bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," passed by the House earlier this week. After more than 17 years of lobbying, this is a defining moment in the fight for repeal.
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. Today, I respectfully asked 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.

We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today --
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and so many others.
This is the defining civil rights initiative of this decade and today’s bill passage would not have been possible without Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today.
Thanks to your commitment -- your phone calls, letters, visits, and more -- we have achieved another major step toward repeal today. This fight has been a bumpy one, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. But every step of the way your tireless support has brought us this far.

Thank you.
Aubrey Sarvis

from the Courage Campaign -

We won.
With 63 votes today in the Senate, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is on the way to the dustbin of history.  I’m elated and I’m somber: it’s a huge victory that would never have happened without every one of you.
But we ain’t done yet.
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.
You did this.  And together, we’ll move from this victory to full equality in the months and years ahead.
Together, we are unstoppable. 
Rick Jacobs

from the Victory Fund -
Moments ago, the Senate took a key vote that will lead to the end of the discriminatory “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which for 17 years has forced brave American troops to lie in order to serve their country.  Along with the passage of the hate crimes bill last year, this victory makes the 111th Congress the first in U.S. history to recognize that LGBT Americans deserve the freedom and fairness our country promises.

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.

I'm also proud to congratulate and thank the many organizations that have worked so hard on this issue both in Congress and the courts, including: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; the Human Rights Campaign; Servicemembers United; the Palm Center; the Center for American Progress; OutServe; the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; National Black Justice Coalition; Get Equal; Log Cabin Republicans; and Stonewall Democrats. 

As you know, the Victory Fund does not lobby on Capitol Hill, but our community has been well-represented by these and so many other organizations and individuals who stand together in this fight.

You were another crucial part of this victory.  Just as your support helped the Victory Fund elect more openly LGBT candidates this year than ever before, insisting that elected officials keep their promises and stand on the side of fairness has once again made a huge difference.

Some predict that the next two years will see little progress on issues important to LGBT Americans, and maybe even attempts to roll back our progress, but I think our community is more creative and committed than that. 

Today's victory is proof that together we can and will continue the fight to expand freedom for LGBT Americans--in Washington, in state capitals and on city councils and school boards across the country.

Thanks for standing with us this year, and congratulations.

Yours in Victory,
Chuck Wolfe

 from Faith in America -
Faith in America in a statement Saturday thanked North Carolina's U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for their vote to repeal the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

"Today's vote in the U.S. Senate is a monumental achievement in the annals of the LGBT civil rights movements," stated Faith in America Founder Mitchell Gold, immediately following Saturday's  65-31 vote. "Our gay service men and women can live their lives with the same human dignity as others. An incredible burden of inequality has been lifted from these men and women.
"Most importantly, today's vote sends a message to our gay youth that one of the largest institutions in our society considers them fully deserving of human dignity and equality.  That is a powerful message, and one that all youth and their families need to hear." 

"We extend our sincere appreciation to Sens. Hagan and Burr for being courageous voices of equality for the state of North Carolina."


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