Moments ago, the Senate voted 65-31 on final passage of the bill that will initiate the repeal the 17 year old law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marking the beginning of the end for this outdated and discriminatory law. Joining nearly every Democrat in this historic vote, 7 Republicans stood on right side of history in voting to strengthen our military, and affirming that sexual orientation does not affect one’s ability to serve their nation.
The bill now goes to President Obama, and once being signed into law, the process of implementing repeal can begin.
“America made history today. After 17 years of this failed and discriminatory law, gay and lesbian service members will soon be able to serve with the full honor and integrity the uniform demands. No longer will patriots be forced to lie in order to serve the country they love and are willing to die for,“ said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “This vote by the United States Senate will have extremely positive ripple effects well beyond ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Our government has sent a powerful message that discrimination, on any level, should not be tolerated. “
So many people have made this work possible, from volunteers and organizers deployed across the U.S., Advocates in Washington and in the states, outspoken veterans and service members and the countless supporters that called, emailed, made visits to lawmakers and used online tools to get the word out about repeal. For a summary of HRC’s work on repeal, click here.
All of us here at the Human Rights Campaign want to thank everyone for all that you have done.
Today’s vote caps off two weeks of frenetic, roller-coaster activity. Last week, the Senate voted for the second time against allowing debate to begin on the National Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. As a result, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a stand-alone repeal bill in the Senate. This Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a DADT bill sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA). That bill was advanced to the Senate and voted on today; this afternoon’s historic victory followed a successful 63-33 vote to end debate this morning.
While the immediate impact of this bill may inspire folks from across the nation, it is important to note that full implementation has yet to take place, and that it is not yet safe for service members to disclose their sexual orientation.