Congress advances repeal of ‘don't ask, don't tell'

Thu. May 27, 2010 12:00 AM by Brett Anthony

Washington, DC - The House of Representatives voted 234-194 Thursday evening to repeal ‘don't ask, don't tell,' the controversial policy banning openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military.

"It was with great pride and tremendous conviction that I voted today against bigotry and division and the end of Congress' support of this morally repugnant policy known as ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Illinois).

Quigley is a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus and has been a outspoken critic of DADT and a vocal advocate for LGBT equal rights since his election to Congress one year ago.

The House vote followed an earlier 16 to 12 vote by the Senate Armed Service Committee to repeal the Clinton-era law.

Since 1993, it is estimated that over 13,500 troops have been discharged under DADT, including 800 mission-critical specialists and over 70 Arabic and Farsi translators. Several allies of the United States, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Israel, have allowed people to serve openly in the military since the 1990s.

"Let us remember that this is every bit as important to our national security as it is our civil rights," said Quigley. "Since its inception 17 years ago, this nonsensical practice has cost us precious lives and valuable soldiers from the Balkans to Afghanistan."

Implementation of the measure would be delayed until after the Pentagon completes a study about its impact on troops due at the end of the year.

Gay-rights advocates have continued to push President Obama and congressional Democrats on the Clinton-era ‘don't ask, don't tell' policy, calling it nothing more than discrimination. The 1993 law allows gays to serve in the military only if they don't disclose their sexual orientation.

Many Republicans oppose changing the policy. Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the most notable Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee voted against the repeal.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have endorsed the repeal of DADT.