Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Gone; No on DREAM Act

I’d rather no one were in the military.

I’d rather no one had to be married to enjoy full benefits of social and political life.

I hope today’s vote removes another barrier to social inclusion. It was a hard fight; this is a milestone.

Next year we’ll fight for immigrants to claim recognition, to trust women with decisions about their bodies, and for equitable, quality, universal affordable health care.

From Politico:

12/18/10 11:57 AM EST Updated: 12/18/10 3:52 PM EST

The Senate voted Saturday afternoon to repeal the ban on gays in the military, marking a major victory for gay rights and an end to the 17-year old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The bill now heads to President Barack Obama, who plans to sign it into law, overturning what repeal advocates believed was a discriminatory policy that unfairly ended the careers of thousands of gay members of the military over the years.

The 65-31 Senate vote marked a historic – and emotional – moment for the gay-rights movement and handed Obama a surprising political victory in the closing days of the 111th Congress. The legislation had been left for dead as recently as last week after Republicans in the Senate blocked efforts to advance it, yet on final passage, the bill won surprising support from eight Republicans.

The repeal, which would not take effect immediately, ushers in a major cultural shift for a military that has operated under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy since the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

The Senate vote capped months of uncertainty about whether Congress or the federal courts, where gay-rights advocates are fighting the ban, would act first to repeal the policy.

The real drama had already come a few hours earlier when the repeal bill cleared a crucial procedural hurdle. The 63-33 cloture vote was three more than needed to beat back a Republican filibuster.

With support from all but one member of the Democratic caucus and help from seven Republicans, the bill overcame the 60-vote threshold required to move forward.

The Republican senators voting “yes” with the Democrats were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. Burr, Ensign and Kirk were late surprises, bucking their party on the historic vote.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who previously stated he opposes repeal, was the only Democrat to miss the vote, apparently because of a family “holiday gathering,” his spokeswoman said.

President Barack Obama called the procedural vote an “historic step” toward ending a discriminatory policy that weakens America’s national security and violates the ideals troops risk their lives to defend.

“By ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” Obama said in a statement. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”

The repeal measure, passed by the Senate Saturday, already cleared the Democratic-controlled House this week along a mostly party-line 250-175 vote. It now goes directly to the president for his promised signature.

The repeal, however, wouldn’t take effect immediately. Obama, Gates and Mullen would have to certify to Congress that they have reviewed the Pentagon report on the impacts of repeal, that the Defense Department is prepared to implement repeal and that doing so would not harm military readiness, troop morale, and recruiting and retention.

The policy would be repealed 60 days after the president submits the document.

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