DADT repeal: the final showdown
After a roller-coaster month, the fate of the repeal of don't ask don't tell (DADT) will come down to a dramatic vote tomorrow in the Senate. If you want the lowdown on what went down yesterday to get us to this point, read Chris Geidner's play-by-play in MetroWeekly. Ed O'Keefe's Cliff's Notes version is here.
As Greg Sargent points out, with Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) joining Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on record saying he would vote to end the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, the chamber has the 60 votes needed to end DADT.
We know hearts and minds in Congress have been changed over the last year. The House approved such legislation 234-194, with five Republican votes in May. That number jumped to 15 when that chamber passed the stand-alone bill this week by a vote of 250-175. Looked at another way, the margin of victory nearly doubled from May (40 votes) to this week (75 votes). Now that the action is in the Senate, the repeal of DADT must be an up-or-down vote free of the procedural obstacles and poison-pill amendments that would only serve to keep this shameful and discriminatory policy in place.
To those Senators willing to play a game of chicken with the courts let me remind them that there's a reason why Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have practically begged Congress to act. The orderly transition from DADT that they've worked out will go poof if a federal judge does the job that Congress so far has refused to do.
To those Senators tempted to use the bigoted words of Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, as a crutch let me remind you that gay men and lesbians aren't the threat to unit cohesion and morale. Servicemembers who can't handle serving alongside someone who was closeted on Monday and then comes out on Tuesday are.
To those Senators who claim to be listening to the American people let me remind them that 77 percent surveyed in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll favor ending DADT. When the noxious policy emerged on the national scene in 1993, only 44 percent of Americans supported allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly.
And so that there is no doubt let me remind Senators that the men and women who put on the uniform to protect and defend the United States -- gay or straight -- do so for the same reason: love of country. So, let them serve with dignity and honor. Let them serve openly.
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