The U.S. House of Representatives and a Senate panel have both approved measures that would begin the process of dismantling the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits gays and lesbians for serving openly in the military.
After a heated Thursday night floor debate, House members voted 234-to-194 to approve a repeal amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy.
“Tonight, Congress took a historic step toward repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and toward ensuring that every American has the same opportunity I did to defend our nation,” said Murphy, who served as an Army paratrooper. “Patriotic Americans willing to take a bullet for their country should never be forced to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.”
Earlier Thursday evening, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a companion amendment by a 16-12 vote in a closed-door session.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican on the committee joining 15 of her Democratic colleagues to approve the measure as an attachment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it.
If signed into law as part of the Defense funding bill, the measure would not immediately repeal the law. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” would continue as the official policy of the military until two events occur: the Pentagon completes an implementation study due in December; and the secretary of Defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and President Barack Obama certify that repeal will not weaken military readiness. Once those two requirements are met, a 60-day waiting period will begin before the policy is finally lifted.
Repeal advocates celebrated the historic vote even as they acknowledged that it was one step in what promises to be a multitiered process.
Excerpt, read the entire article here: Congress Moves to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: – By Kerry Eleveld | The Advocate