The Senate voted 63-33 to cut off further debate on a bill already passed by the House to begin repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on military service by gay men and lesbians. A final vote will be held soon. (Watch the final debate and vote here.) The president will sign the bill, which requires a short certification process before repeal is final.
This means the end of a cruel and ultimately counter-productive anti-gay policy that kept a few thousand people from serving and put many times that in fear of expulsion from service. What’s more, the change occurred legislatively. The president, the Democrats in Congress, Sen. Joe Lieberman, and six Senate Republicans who voted for repeal (Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (ME) and George Voinovich (OH)) deserve praise. Credit is also due to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which worked tirelessly for two decades to get rid of the policy.
Mostly, I’m happy for the men and women, some of whom I know, who will now be able to serve their country without fear of discharge because of their sexual orientation.
UPDATE: The final Senate vote was 65-31. Republican Senators Burr (North Carolina!) and Ensign (NV) joined the original six who voted for repeal.