|(Washington, DC) – The United States Senate in a vote of 65 to 31 passed legislation, including 8 Republicans, which upon certification by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, and the President, will end the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.
“This is an historic day, not just for gay and lesbian servicemembers, but for all Americans,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper and an out officer in the United States Army Reserve. “Today the Senate voted, with strong Republican support, to finally end a policy which has burdened our armed services for far too long, depriving our nation of the talent, training and hardwon battle experience of thousands of patriotic Americans. Soon, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom will be able t o enjoy those same freedoms equally, without regard to sexual orientation. Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have played a role in this victory, and we thank our allies in Congress, without whom repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ would not have been possible.”“This is an historic moment. Like our closest allies, the United States’ Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country,” said Senator Susan Collins. “And, I agree with Defense Secretary Gates that it is critical that the issue is decided by Congress, not the courts.”
“I have been in the military for 31 years and counting, and have served as a subordinate and as an officer,” said Senator Scott Brown. “As a legislator, I have spent a significant amount of time on military issues. During my time of service, I have visited our injured troops at Walter Reed and have attended funerals of our fallen heroes. When a soldier answers the call to serve, and risks life or limb, it has never mattered to me whether they are gay or straight. My only concern has been whether their service and sacrifice is with pride and honor.”
“I am pleased that the Senate voted today to end debate on the President’s proposal to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the military. I intend to vote yes on repeal when that final vote comes to the Senate floor,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski in advance of the Senate vote. “Our military leaders have made a compelling case that they can successfully implement Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It is infinitely preferable for Congress to repeal the law, and allow the service chiefs to develop and execute a new policy, than to invite a court-ordered reversal of the law with no allowance for a military-directed implementation. I’ve heard from Alaskans across the state who believe it’s time to end this discriminatory policy, and I agree with them.”
“I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead,” said Senator Mark Kirk. “Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief’s recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete. The legislation before us provides our military leaders with the time they requested to change the policy. Without this legislation, Admiral Roughead warned that courts, like California’s federal courts, would issue further confusing stop and start orders to our military, causing chaos in our military recruitment and retention programs. In the end, the Constitution charges the Congress with setting military policy and the Executive branch with implementing it. The legislation containing the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will remove the various orders of conflicting and uncertain court litigation from our military, allowing uniformed leaders to once again effectively manage our national defense. As a 21-year Navy Reserve officer, I believe it is important for military leaders, not federal judges, to run our armed forces.”
“After careful analysis of the comprehensive report compiled by the Department of Defense and thorough consideration of the testimony provided by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, I support repeal of the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law,” Senator Olympia Snowe said in a statement on December 15th.
Republican senators supporting repeal include:
• Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA)
• Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
• Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
• Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
• Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
• Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
• Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)
Log Cabin Republicans have maintained a three-front strategy against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ lobbying for repeal in Congress, consulting with the Department of Defense, and filing suit in federal court. The case went to trial in July of 2010, and Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on September 9, 2010 that the policy violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution.