‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Repeal Celebrated as Victory for Civil Rights, Country

December 22, 2010

Longtime opponents of the law that bars lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the military hailed the Senate's passage of a bill repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as a civil rights victory.

"We are on the brink of making history," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "An end to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' cannot happen soon enough. This arcane and costly policy has destroyed thousands of careers, wasted much-needed dollars, and failed to enhance our nation's security."

The Senate passed the repeal bill by a vote of 65 to 31 earlier today. TPM reports, "It's all quite anticlimactic to the drama fans, but for the proponents of DADT repeal, this afternoon's vote is one that really matters."

TPM also reported that Sen. Joe Manchin, the only Democrat to join with Republicans last week to defeat an effort to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," remained opposed to ending the law. He skipped the vote altogether, TPM reports, to attend a Christmas Party.

The bill now goes to President Obama, who urged the Senate to pass the repeal measure, and has promised to sign it. TPM says that's likely to happen next week. 

Obama applauded the vote, saying in a press statement, "the Senate has taken 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."

The Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, a longtime opponent of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, lauded Obama's deliberate efforts to ensure that the repeal came out of Congress.

"Without the Pentagon study, it wouldn't have passed," Sullivan, wrote. "Without keeping Lieberman [Sen. Joe Lieberman] inside the tent, it wouldn't have passed. Without the critical relationship between Bob Gates and Obama, it wouldn't have happened. It worked our last nerve; we faced at one point a true nightmare of nothing ... for years. And then we pulled behind this president, making it his victory and the country's victory, as well as ours."