Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to repeal the
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” law that bans openly gay people from serving in
The panel voted 16-12 to repeal the law. Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) was the only
Democrat to vote against the measure, while Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators: Give states the option of keeping ObamaCare GOP senators to introduce ObamaCare replacement plan GOP rep faces testy crowd at constituent meeting over ObamaCare MORE (Maine)
was the only Republican to vote for it.
“Today’s action by the Senate Armed Services Committee is an important step to end this discriminatory policy,” Levin said. “I believe that allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly will open the ranks to more patriotic men and women who wish to serve their country.”
Under the provision, the repeal will not be implemented until the Pentagon finishes its review of how it would impact the military. President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaPoll: Trump gets historically low approval rating during first days as president With Obama’s forgiveness of Manning, justice takes a backseat to politics California state lawmaker wants schools to teach about Russian hacks MORE, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen must first certify it can be achieved consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention.
“With the effective leadership of Chairman Levin, my colleagues adopted a compromise amendment which carefully accommodates the recommendations of the Pentagon working group and is consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention,” Lieberman said.
The language reflects a deal worked out between key members of Congress and the White House.
To make the vote palatable to Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers 'Nuclear option' for Supreme Court nominees will damage Senate McCain's Supreme Court strategy leads to nuclear Senate MORE (D-Mich.), the panel's chairman, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) also agreed to allow Congress to have 60 days to review the implementation policy once certified.
Byrd and Collins voted in favor of repeal along with Democratic Sens. Jack ReedJack ReedSenate seeks deal on Trump nominees Senate seeks deal on Trump nominees Senate panel easily approves waiver for Mattis MORE (R.I.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii), Bill NelsonBill NelsonPanel to vote on Trump’s Transportation nominee Tuesday Week ahead: FCC soon to be in Republican Pai's hands Meet Trump's secret weapon on infrastructure MORE (Fla.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Evan Bayh (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillWashington Post reporter compares DC rioters to Boston Tea Party Dem senator: Violent inauguration protesters ‘disgusting’ Five things to watch for in Mnuchin hearing MORE (Mo.), Mark UdallMark UdallLive coverage: Tillerson's hearing for State The rise and possible fall of the ‘Card’ in politics Gardner's chief of staff tapped for Senate GOP campaign director MORE (Colo.), Kay HaganKay Hagan Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (N.C.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Roland Burris (Ill.), Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Ted Kaufman (Del.).
At press time, the House had yet to vote on a mirror amendment sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.). The House is debating the 2011 defense authorization bill.
Gay rights activists who fought to see repeal this year on Thursday hailed the Senate panel’s action, but warned that gay service members can still be discharged despite the legislation that was approved.
“The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a historic roadmap to allowing open military service, but it doesn’t end the discharges,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), an organization solely focused on repeal.
“It is important for all gay and lesbian, active-duty service members, including the reserves and the National Guard, to know they’re at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ law that remains on the books. Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011,” Sarvis added.