Wednesday, December 15, 2010

House Moves Forward on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal

By a vote of 232 to 180, the House has agreed to the rules for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal bill (that being one hour of general debate), bringing us one more step closer to repeal.

Before the rules vote, one hour of debate was allowed.   Led by Rep. Chillie Pingree (D-Maine), some Democratic representatives made very strong statements in support of repeal; here are some of their remarks:

Pingree, who drew comparisons between allowing women into the armed services and repealing DADT:
“The time has come to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The men and women of the armed services have spoken. There are no more excuses not to reveal this misguided and harmful policy. There is no reason to delay this any longer. Just because someone is gay, doesn’t make them any less of a soldier, an airman, or marine. How many more competent, talented, and patriotic men and women will be kicked out of the service before this misguided and harmful policy is forever banned?  Don't Ask, Don't Tell threatens our national security, it wastes our precious resources, and it goes against the values of our armed forces.  This is the patriotic vote, this is the vote for national security, this is the vote for increasing recruitment for our military."

Rep Jared Polis (D-Colo), who warned against waiting for a court order to repeal the policy:
“I rise today in support of repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the only law in the country that requires people to be dishonest, or be fired if they choose to be honest. It’s a law that is hurtful to our national security. We already debated and voted on this issue earlier this summer. I personally feel we didn’t need to see [the Pentagon study], but I do understand that many members of this body from both sides of the aisle wanted to see that report. The report has come out, and it’s very clear that this change in policy does not represent a threat to the security of this country. Repeal of this policy is inevitable; it is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if.’ Today, we can allow the military to do the right thing to enhance military readiness and improve national security. Let us be on the right side of history and go forward with repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ today.”

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.):
"'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' remains the only federal statute mandating a person be fired based on their sexual orientation. Thousands of dedicated, honorable Americans have suffered discrimination while thousands more have been discouraged from even considering the military. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' removes highly-trained servicemembers out of the military at a time when we need them to fight two wars. All our servicemen and women are first and foremost Americans: we cannot with any true moral standing discriminate against courageous members of our military for living an authentic life.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who reflected on her time on the armed services committee when DADT was first put in place:
“I told the general that I thought 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was unconstitutional. I opposed it then, and I oppose it now. No good has ever come of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but a lot of bad has. I have no doubt that america’s armed forces will successful transition to a post-DADT world. We’re hearing the alarm sounded about moralit, morale, unite cohesion and readiness. Be it race, gender, or sexual orientation, our military services have demonstrated their commitment and with this historical vote, we will allow all servicemen and women who are holding their breath in fear to breathe easier.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.):
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is outdated and it is unjust. No individual should be d iscriminated against based on their sexual orientation. Our troops fight honorably to protect our freedom: the least we can do is fight to protect their rights as well. This unjust and unnecessary practice is also unsound: it makes no sense for our military to discharge valuable servicemembers, especially during a time of war. My colleagues, this is the easy stuff.  'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' does nothing to contribute to our national security. This practice should be repealed immediately, its time has come.”

Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.):
"As a former Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserve, I served with many brave, patriotic and dedicated men and women. I was never concerned with their sexual orientation, just their ability to serve this country. This policy has wasted over $1 billion. Military leaders have testified before congress in support of repeal. We must allow our military to recruit and retain any qualified, patriotic, and courageous American who wants to service this country."

All of these congressmen and women spoke eloquently and powerfully in favor of repealing the discriminatory and dangerous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  They should be commended for their strong and steadfast support for gay rights.

And now, we move on to the actual repeal vote...

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