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‘DADT’ Repeal Passes House in December 15 Vote, Bill Still Faces Senate Hurdles-President Obama Issues Statement Applauding House Action
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, courtesy of www.whitehouse.gov
President Barack Obama with US troops in Afghanistan

On December 15, the House of Representatives again voted in favor of repeal of the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which has kept LGBT service people, who are honest and open about their sexual orientation, from serving in the armed forces. The vote was 250 to 175, with 15 Republicans favoring repeal. In a House vote this past May, the numbers were 234 to 194. The bill still faces serious hurdles in the Senate. Citing two key Senate opponents’ “obstructionism,” Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Executive Director and US Army veteran Aubrey Sarvis noted, “We cannot underestimate [S]enators John McCain (Republican, Arizona) and Mitch McConnell (Republican, Kentucky), who will do everything they can to kill repeal. We need to fight back on any amendments, which would change the bill language and cause further delay.”

Shortly after the evening vote in the House, Campaign Courage, based in California, released a statement from Representative Patrick Murphy (Democrat, Pennsylvania)—who served as Captain in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in the Iraqi War—saying, in part, “I just walked off the House floor, where I saw passage of my amendment—co-sponsored with [Majority] Leader [Steny] Hoyer [Democrat, Maryland]—to begin repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It was one of the proudest moments of my life … The time to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has come. It has come for the House … [a]nd … it will come for the Senate. Sen[ator]s [Joseph] Lieberman [Independent, Connecticut] and [Susan M.] Collins [Republican, Maine], along with their allies Sen[ator]s [Tom] Udall [Democrat, New Mexico] and [Kirsten] Gillibrand [Democrat, New York], have introduced a stand-alone bill that mirrors our amendment in the House. But the calendar is tight and there aren’t many votes to spare. Opponents of repeal are lining up to gut the bill by inserting poison pill amendments. We can’t let that happen.”

President Barack Obama issued the following statement: “I applaud the House for passing, with bipartisan support, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. Legislative repeal is supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The process contained in this legislation allows for a smooth and responsible repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in a way that maintains good order and discipline in our military ranks. Indeed, all of the Service Chiefs have said that when this law is changed, they will implement an orderly transition effectively and efficiently. As the comprehensive study by the Department of Defense clearly shows, we can move to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and our national security. I particularly want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Patrick Murphy for their leadership on this issue. I have consistently called for the repeal of this law. Moving forward with the repeal is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country.”

SLDN Executive Director Sarvis said, “Now, we turn our attention back to the Senate. We’ll still need 60 votes to complete the bill and send it directly to the President’s desk.” Giving the Capitol switchboard telephone number, 202/224-3121, Sarvis added, “Calls to the following [S]enators are particularly needed. Please call these key [S]enators now!” and issued the following list:
Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) 202/224-5344,
Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) 202/224-4814,
Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) 202/224-3324,
Scott Brown (Republican, Massachusetts) 202/224-4543,
George Voinovich (Republican, Ohio) 202/224-3353,
Kit Bond (Republican, Missouri) 202/224-5721,
Lisa Murkowski (Republican, Alaska) 202/224-6665,
Mark Kirk (Republican, Illinois) 202/224-2854, and
Joe Manchin (Democrat, West Virginia) 202/224-3954.

SLDN offered this sample script for the phone calls: “Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent from [city & state]. I’m calling to tell Senator ___ to stand with Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Levin and Senator Lieberman and vote for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal. Fight back against Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and pass repeal this year. Thank you.”

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