Local representatives split votes down party lines
December 19, 2010 (Washington D.C.) – By a 65-31 vote, the U.S. Senate voted to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which barred gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military. The House approved the measure last week, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised repeal of the policy. "No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so,” he concluded. “We will be a better military as a result.”
Both California Senators Barabara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein voted for lifting the ban. In the House, San Diego representatives split down party lines, with Democrats Susan Davis and Bob Filner voting in favor of the repeal, while Republicans Brian Bilbray, Duncan Hunter, and Darrell Issa voted against it.
President Obama praised the Senate for taking “an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.” He said that by ending the ban, “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. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”
The President added, “As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.”
Senator John McCain, former Republican presidential candidate, led opposition on the Senate floor. "They will do what is asked of them," McCain said of military members. "But don't think there won't be a great cost."
The President is expected to sign the measure, which will take several months to fully implement, with some details remaining to be determined. Senior Pentagon officials have said the new policy could be rolled out incrementally, service by service, or unit by unit. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the policy change will not take effect until after consultation with military chiefs and combat commanders. "Successful implementation will depend on strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force," he said.