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“DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS HISTORY!

Jim Burroway

December 18th, 2010

The grave of Air Force Technical Sergent Leonard Matlovich: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."

Today is a truly historic day in the history of the gay rights movement. In a 65-31 vote, the U.S. Senate approved H.R.2965, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. The House had passed an identical version of the bill by a 250-175 vote earlier in the week.  The bill will now go to the President’s desk, where he had pledged to sign it into law.

Since the DADT was enacted in 1993, more than 13,500 LGBT servicemembers have been dismissed from the military.

The actual repeal of the military’s ban on LGBT people serving openly will not take effect immediately following the President’s signature. That will happen only after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that policies have been written to implement repeal and compliance with these polices is consistent with military readiness. The Pentagon Working Group study outlined the steps that need to occur in order to implement the new policy. Those steps include enacting changes to the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, training for officers and servicemembers, and updates to various policies concerning proper conduct in the workplace. Those tasks may take from six months to a year to accomplish. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) warns that it is not yet safe for LGBT servicemembers to reveal themselves to their co-workers and officers.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) skipped the vote in favor of a Christmas party, calling it “a family obligation that he just could not break. . .However, he has been clear on where he stands on the issues.” Except, of course, he hasn’t been. When he voted against the Defense Authorization Bill last week, he specifically cited DADT repeal as his deciding factor, saying in his later “apology” that “I have not had the opportunity to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia.”

Eight Republicans voted to repeal DADT. They were Sens. Scott Brown (MA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (ME),  John Ensign (R-NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK), Olympia Snowe (ME), and George Voinovich (OH).  Burr and Ensign switched their votes to “yes” after having voted against cloture earlier this morning. All fifty-five Democrats and both independents voted in favor of the bill. In addition to Manchin’s non-vote, Sens. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Orin Hatch (R-UT) also did not vote.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates reacts to the vote:

“I welcome today’s vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law.

“Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully.  This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

“The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.  As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time.  In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

“Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force.  With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen has also issued this statement:

“I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Handling this through legislation preserves the military’s prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

“More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards.”

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Wonderful news! Now. Realistically, when can we expect to have integrated forces? Obviously the president’s signature will mean the end ofdischarges; but what about the rest.

Kate
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

That’s the sad irony of this whole mess – we already HAVE integrated services…the gay men and women who have been willing to try serving their country knowing this law was in place are already doing their jobs.

But with the “procedural” yadda-yadda that will go on, it may be six months before someone can put the REAL picture of their partner on their desk, and the other little things that open service will mean to those in uniform now.

THOSE are the people I salute today…and those who had to pay the price under DADT. This day is for you.

Timothy Kincaid
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

It’s not yet official or implemented, but you know that in the ranks just now, a number of soldiers just quietly congratulated a fellow soldier… without exactly saying why they were congratulating them.

Chris McCoy
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Since the DADT was enacted in 1993, more than 13,500 LGBT servicemembers have been dismissed from the military.

Just to make this number easier to comprehend.

On average, 2 LGBT soldiers were fired every single day for 17 years.

John
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. Manchin really comes off like a gutless coward. I have more respect for those who voted against DADT repeal because at least they are standing up for what they believe in, no matter how repulsive in this case, instead of slinking off like this. Amazing.

John
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Absolutely, Timothy. And I’ll bet that quite a few are breathing a sigh of relief since they won’t have to look over their shoulder any more. This repeal won’t change too much because most will only be “out” to a select few even after implementation. That may change over time but for now I doubt we’ll see much difference. Heck, I’ve told others that I love the TV show NCIS but when I was in the Navy they (then NIS) were essentially my enemy, never to be trusted. They actively sought out gays to kick them out. Thank God this ends now.

Ben in Oakland
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Now that we’ve accomplished the destruciton of the US military, it will free up so much time to destroy marriage, destry the family, shred the ocnsitution, recruit the kids, and redecorate our home.

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

L. Junius Brutus
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

John: “Wow. Manchin really comes off like a gutless coward. I have more respect for those who voted against DADT repeal because at least they are standing up for what they believe in, no matter how repulsive in this case, instead of slinking off like this. Amazing.”

You sympathize more with those who boldly stand for evil, rather one who does so reluctantly and out of fear for his hard-won job? I prefere a gutless and reluctant enemy over a bold and enthusiastic one.

Bernie
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Tim, what a nice visual your comment evokes. I am happy for those soldiers, and their friends who have kept the secret for them.

What a terrific way to end the year!

RWG
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Mr. Obama can now do the right thing by issuing a Stop Loss Order to be in effect during the implementation phase, which could take up to a year.

Freddy
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

RWG, I don’t think that would be necessary, as SecDef has stated, all discharges have to be signed off by him,as he is for repeal, I don’t think that will happen, as such, there would have to be a pretty strong case to get it past him. At this point, I am no longer worried about being discharged, Period.

Regan DuCasse
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Yeesh, how long did implementation, and MISINTERPRETATION of DADT take?

I’d like to see a comparison.

Fergie
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Let the Exodus of huffy Evangelical Chaplains begin!

John
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Back off, Brutus. I never said “sympathize”, nor would I.

Richard Rush
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

I think this is the most momentous day in our quest for equality since SCOTUS struck down sodomy laws in 2003. Sure, marriage in Massachusetts was big, but DADT is bigger because it’s national, and it will force many more straight people to experience the reality of gay people at a personal level. And because I suspect the military still contains a higher percentage of anti-gay types than the general population, we will be reaching some of the people who need it most.

——————-

Just try to imagine how thrilled and relieved gay soldiers must feel today. But it’s sad that the vast majority of them probably feel they can’t share their joy with anyone around them . . . yet.

Theo
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Has anyone heard an explanation from Ensign and Burr on their split vote? I can kind of see the reasoning for Ensign to do this, but Burr is really a surprise and a puzzle.

:o
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Somewhere Quo’s head just exploded.

L. Junius Brutus
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

John: “Back off, Brutus. I never said “sympathize”, nor would I.”

Since I referred to those persons as “enemies”, I obviously “have sympathy for his position”. But it still baffles me why you would rather have an Inhofe rather than a gutless and reluctant foe. Is it more respectable to advocate evil out of a personal passion for evil, than to do it for cynical reasons?

L. Junius Brutus
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

That didn’t come out right. Let me try again:

Since I referred to those persons as “enemies”, I obviously DID NOT MEAN that you “have sympathy for their position”.

L. Junius Brutus
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Theo: “Has anyone heard an explanation from Ensign and Burr on their split vote? I can kind of see the reasoning for Ensign to do this, but Burr is really a surprise and a puzzle.”

Ensign supported repealing DADT, but did not want to do it in the lame duck session. Hence, he voted against ending the debate on the measure, but when it came up for a vote, he voted yes.

Burr is a mystery to me too. But he has voted for common sense measures in the past, like funding for stem cell research. And he just got re-elected, so I think he thought he could get away with doing the right thing.

John
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t know why this is difficult for you to follow, Brutus. I said that I have more respect for someone who at least has the courage to take a stand for what they believe and vote for it, even if I find that stance to be repulsive, rather than someone who is a gutless coward. In no way does this mean I agree with them or consider Inhofe a bud or whatever you mean by “take Inhofe”. Inhofe was definitely on the wrong side of history. Manchin was just a gutless coward and folks like that piss me off more.

mikeksf
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks for reminding us of Leonard Matlovich and his historic role in this issue. How amazing it was to see his picture on the cover of Time in the 70’s and hear his call for Gays to be allowed to serve in the military.
Amazing.

Mark F.
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

One of the great tragedies of the AIDS epidemic is that Mr. Matlovich, who would have been 67, did not live to see this day.

Roa
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

$#i+, I’m one amazed Alaskan. Thank you Lisa!

Aeval
December 18th, 2010 | LINK

8 republicans voted to repeal the policy, is that considered a strong republican support?

Apparently it is for Log Cabin Republicans:
“Today the Senate voted, with strong Republican support, to finally end a policy which has burdened our armed services for far too long,…”
-According to a news release from Log Cabin Republicans

Edwin
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

I am glad that this worthless law has finally been shot down. Now McCain can just sit down and shut up or better yet get out of office.

Gus
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

Everyone is justifiably praising the efforts of the activists, the President, the Joint Chiefs, Democrats in the Senate and adding Sens. Lieberman and Snowe. I would like to praise Sen. Voinovich from Ohio, who voted for cloture. Sen. Voinovich could have comfortably rested on his deeply held religious convictions, his middle class, Midwestern mid-century ideology and done nothing. But he did not in his last few days in the Senate before retiring.

http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/12/12/copy/mr–ohio.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

I am going old school and snail mail a thank you note and ask others to do the same for the gentleman from Ohio.

Sen. George V. Voinovich
524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Paul J. Stein
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was the reason I wanted to go in the USAF. And also the reason I did not. I refused to answer the question of my sexual preference on grounds it “was no ones business”. Every time I had to explain to my father why I didn’t enlist as a pilot it was very painful. I told him what happened 3 days before his death 32 years later. His response was “FUCK EM, they lost out and the country lost out. He was in the ARMY AIR CORPS WWII.

BlackDog
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

As an Air Force veteran myself I’d just like to say congratulations to those affected by this, and also to thank any gay veterans who may read this for not only having served, but done so under far more difficult conditions than myself.

Integrity above all
Service before self
Excellence in all we do

I always thought bigotry of any kind got in the way of that.

TampaZeke
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

For all the gay unknown soldiers, past and present, living and dead, this one’s for YOU!

Mykelb
December 19th, 2010 | LINK

Really? I can’t help but think that the “Certification” process can be put off indefinitely by the military, in effect “vetoing” the repeal by the military.

Jason D
December 20th, 2010 | LINK

Mykelb, not when Mullen has repeatedly stated he supports repeal and can’t wait to get started on it.

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