The House of Representatives voted Thursday night to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. armed forces.
The vote repeals a 17-year-old law called “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy permitted gays and lesbians to serve in the military, so long as they did not declare their sexual orientation. In exchange, the military brass would not inquire service members about their sexual preference.
“This is devastating to the war fighters and the combat infantrymen,” said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.
But many Democrats, like Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., likened the policy to race discrimination.
“It didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now,” said Lewis, a civil rights figure. “It is an affront to human dignity.”
The military has discharged some 13,000 service members since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went into effect.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Penn., the first Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress, authored the House proposal.
Earlier Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 to eliminate the old rule. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was the only Republican to vote in favor of repeal while Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., was the only Democrat to vote against the initiative that was attached to a $760 billion defense spending bill.
“I’m excited. I can now join the military,” mused Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., the first person to be openly gay and then elected to Congress.
The vote was 234 to 194.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Ron Paul, R-Texas, Joseph Cao, R-La., and Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, were the only Republicans to vote in favor of scrapping the law.
The amendment was part of a broader bill to authorize Pentagon programs.
The House is expected to finish that measure Friday. Many House Republicans warned they’d vote against the entire bill if lawmakers repealed the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly.
Good news this Friday morning(:(:(:(:
Although the oil leak in the Gulf has been tugging on all of our minds, the news is not all bad today.
I’m SO thankful for President Obama bringing this issue to the table. It’s embarrassing for our nation, who deems itself a “free nation,” to have such a policy.
Serving in the military is brave. ❤ Our men & women in uniform inspire us all to be grateful for our country & the daily lives we live.
But we forget, sometimes, the bravery it takes to let it be known you are different. Being open about homosexuality is brave. ❤ It takes a lot of bravery to be public about homosexuality. Especially because in this great nation, the backlash can be very, very hurtful.
I’m proud of my country every day. But today I’m proud of those reps in the House (which doesn’t happen often) who support gays & lesbians in the military.<3 Very proud.
Just in time for Memorial Day.(: Do not forget to remember. Remember the million+ men & women who have died for all of our freedoms. Including the freedom to love who we choose.<3