Yesterday I was chatting with a House aide about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” legislative repeal. Before I could ask about inflection points for passage in a House vote that could come as early as this evening, the aide waived me off his entire chamber. Don’t even bother with the House, the aide told me. The big question for is whether the Senate Armed Services Committee can approve the repeal.
And it just did. The vote was 16 to 12, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joining 15 Democrats in voting to attach an amendment to repeal the military’s ban on open gay service to the fiscal 2011 defense authorization.
LGBT activists have waited for this day for 17 years. A sample reaction from the press releases flooding my inbox:
“The importance of this vote cannot be overstated – this is the beginning of the end of a shameful ban on open service by lesbian and gay troops that has weakened our national security,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The stars are aligning to finally restore honor and integrity to those who serve our country so selflessly.”
“This initial victory today in the Senate Armed Services Committee is an historic first step forward in the drive to finally get the onerous ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law off the books forever,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “All of us who have served under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and who have been impacted by this law will remember this day as the beginning of the end for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
From Chris Anders of the ACLU:
“For years, without being able to live openly, gay and lesbian service members have been fighting and dying for their country alongside straight soldiers. Our men and women in uniform deserve to be treated fairly, honestly and with dignity. We applaud the committee for including this provision and urge the House to pass its amendment as well. We cannot dare lose momentum now.”
A House vote on attaching a similar amendment will come possibly as early as tonight. But Senate Republicans tell TPM’s Brian Beutler that they’ll do anything to stop the Senate bill when it goes to the floor.