UPDATE @ 3:02 PM: Watch the Senate vote on final passage:
UPDATE: The final Senate vote on DADT is expected at 3pm Eastern. We should easily win that. Then the bill goes straight to the White House for the President’s signature, from what I understand.
And here’s the vote count. We got all the Ds, exception Manchin, who chickened out and didn’t vote at all (history repeats itself and West Virginia takes a proud stand against the major civil rights bill of the day, again). And we got the following Rs: Snowe; Collins; Murkowski; Voinovich; Brown; Kirk.
There’s a lot of thanks to go around for today’s incredible and somewhat surprising, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” victory. Please join us in thanking the troops, from Leonard Maltovich to Dan Choi, who made today possible. You can add your name to our open letter of thanks to all of them, and we’ll deliver it to our friends at SLDN and Servicemembers United.
Now, it’s true that this isn’t over. The Senate still has two more votes on DADT before this bill passes the Senate (but those are simple majority votes, so we expect no problem). Then the bill goes to the President for his signature. But even then it’s not over. The President will need to work with the Pentagon to come up with the new regulations lifting the ban, and even then Republicans in Congress may try to stop implementation of the repeal. We’ll need to watch this like a hawk every step of the way, and we will, but today we celebrate.
Join us in thanking the troops, but really in thanking everyone who had a hand in this. Here a few who really led the way:
Everyone at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and Servicemembers United. Especially their leaders, Aubrey Sarvis and Alex Nicholson, both proud vets. Then there are the vets. Leonard Matlovich, Perry Watkins, Tracy Thorne, Zoe Dunning, Justin Elzie, Michelle Beneke (and Dixon Osborn, who isn’t a vet, but set up SLDN 17 years ago with Michelle), Grethe Cammermeyer, Joe Steffan, Keith Meinhold, Eric Alva, Victor Fehrenbach, and Dan Choi… and so many more.
And let’s not forget the activists who weren’t willing to take no for an answer. Robin McGehee at GetEqual and the entire gay Netroots. Our friends in the White House who have been pushing this for two years, in the face of some serious internal challenges. Our friends on the Hill, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – who both got this done. Senator Udall of Colorado. Senator Gillibrand. Senator Lieberman (yes, he actually busted his butt for us). Senators Snowe and Collins, and every other Republican and Democrat who finally came our way. And Congressman Patrick Murphy, who went the extra mile for us. And even the President, who finally got into gear (albeit a tad late) and made the calls necessary to make this happen.
I’m sure I’m forgetting far too many people, all the way back to my friends at the Campaign for Military Service back in 1993, and Michael in Senator Kennedy’s office who spent far too much time with me figuring out how to responds to the evil Sam Nunn.
So thank you all. It’s not over. But it’s a hell of a start, and a hell of a Christmas gift.
Please sign our thank you letter to the troops, and consider it a thank you to everyone, including all of you.
Not a bad day.
PS Okay, more folks coming to mind who helped out immensely. Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate who held Robert Gibbs’ feet to the fire, Richard Socarides who singlehandedly became one of our community’s top spokesmen on CNN and MSNBC. Trevor at SLDN and Brad Luna, the best PR folks you can find. And then there’s Paul Yandura and Jonathan Lewis, who went the extra mile, and then some, to make sure we all got equal. And the blogswarmers, from Pam Spaulding to Mike Signorile, Dan “It gets better” Savage, Andy Towle, Bill Browning, Joe Jervis, Adam Bink,and Jeremy Hooper.
It’s beginning to feel like the Oscars
Then there are the straight blogs, as we affectionately call them. Markos, a vet who earned his “honorary gay” medal years ago, Jane Hamsher who is about as dangerous a weapon on TV as any soldier in the field, and really everyone – Joe and I have remarked to ourselves numerous times how supportive the straight blogs have been to us and our issues over the years, so thank you, all of you. And not a blogger, but still a member of the Netroots, Jon Soltz at VoteVets, another vet who earned his honorary gay medal years ago, tirelessly fighting for us on TV far better than most of our groups.
And even OFA, while not yet quite earning their honorary gay medal, came through in the end and did some real work phone-banking and visiting Senate offices, so thank you.