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Senate votes to move forward on DADT, groups respond
News update based on news releases Dec. 18, 2010
2010-12-15

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Statement by Human Rights Campaign, Dec. 18, 2010: Discriminatory Law on its Way to the Dustbin of History

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Senate voted on legislation that will allow for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ( DADT ) . This historic action comes on the heels of the passage of an identical bill Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives. President Obama has said that he will sign DADT repeal into law.

"Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Congress recognized that all men and women have the right to openly serve their country," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Plenty of people had already planned the funeral for this legislation. Today, we pulled out a victory from what was almost certain defeat just a few days ago. We are grateful to President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Sens. Lieberman, Collins and countless others for their dogged determination to repeal DADT."

Today's vote caps off two weeks of frenetic, roller-coaster activity. Last week, the Senate voted for the second time against allowing debate to begin on the National Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. As a result, Senators Joe Lieberman ( I-CT ) and Susan Collins ( R-ME ) introduced a stand-alone repeal bill in the Senate. This Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a DADT bill sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ( D-MD ) and Representative Patrick Murphy ( D-PA ) . That bill was advanced to the Senate and voted on today.

DADT was made a law seventeen years ago and is the only U.S. law that punishes people for simply telling the truth. Since the law went into effect, over 14,000 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged from our nation's military simply because they were gay or lesbian. An estimated 66,000 gays and lesbians are currently on active-duty. Twenty-three studies over the past fifty years, including most recently a comprehensive study by the Pentagon, have concluded the same thing: that there would be no to minimal impact on force cohesion or unit readiness by allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military. Thirty-countries currently allow gays and lesbians to serve in their nation's armed forces. Over the past two years, HRC has worked steadily, including dedicating over $3 million in financial resources, to bring about today's successful outcome. Click hereto see a summary of our work.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the sponsor of the Senate bill, added his perspective to this historic day. "This 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010' removes a law that discriminates against military service members based solely on their sexual orientation and also harms our national security. This historic day has been seventeen years in the making and would not have happened without the leadership of Joe Solmonese and the Human Rights Campaign."

"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 ( R-Maine ) . "And, I agree with Defense Secretary Gates that it is critical that the issue is decided by Congress, not the courts."

Following enactment of this legislation, the repeal of DADT will happen only after certification by the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that policies have been written to implement repeal and compliance with these polices is consistent with military readiness. The Human Rights Campaign issues a critical warning to service members that repeal of DADT is not effective immediately and service members are still at risk of being discharged on the basis of their sexual orientation until certification occurs and an additional 60 days have passed. Click here to see the Pathway to Final Repeal.

"This has been a long fought battle, but this failed and discriminatory law will now be history," added Solmonese. "Congress now joins the majority of our troops and the American public in the common sense belief that on the battlefield, it does not matter whether a service member is lesbian, gay or straight — what matters is that a service member gets the job done. The President can now fulfill his promise and sign this repeal legislation into law. After signing this legislation, we call on the President and Secretary of Defense to act expeditiously to complete the steps necessary to implement final repeal."

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

SLDN STATEMENT ON U.S. SENATE VOTE TO *ALLOW* FOR THE REPEAL OF "DON'T ASK"

"Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they're still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted," said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

"We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today -- Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today's bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid's determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President," Sarvis said.

ABOUT SLDN: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network was established in 1993 when "Don't Ask" originally passed. In addition to working on repeal, SLDN offers free, confidential legal services to those impacted by the discriminatory law. This year the organization received its 10,000th call for assistance to its legal hotline.

Historic Victory on Critical Senate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Vote, Cloture Vote Win All But Guarantees Repeal of 17-Year Old Law, Statement by Servicemembers United, Dec. 18, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, released the following statement today regarding the Senate's successful cloture vote on the bill that would repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ( DADT ) law:

"This vote represents an historic step forward for this country, and it will very likely be a life-changing moment for gay and lesbian troops," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former multi-lingual Army interrogator who was discharged under DADT. "While we still have a long road ahead, including a final passage vote, the certification process, and a yet-to-be-determined implementation period, those who defend our freedom while living in fear for their careers will finally breathe a sigh of relief tonight, and those who have fallen victim to this policy in years past will finally begin to see true closure and redemption on the horizon."

For more information about Servicemembers United and "Don't Ask, Dont' Tell," please visit www.ServicemembersUnited.org . For the most comprehensive collection of polling data, discharge statistics, academic works, legislative and congressional material, and more, visit www.DADTArchive.org .

U.S. Senate votes to end filibuster of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal bill, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force statement

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauded the Senate's cloture vote today allowing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal bill to proceed to the full Senate for a vote. The Task Force has been working in coalition with other organizations advocating for repeal of the military ban on openly lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"This vote today marks a critical step toward creating a path that could end in lesbian, gay and bisexual people finally being able to serve openly, honestly, and to great benefit of our country. Three-quarters of Americans say 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' should be repealed, as do top military leaders. We thank those senators who supported cloture today, and urge the full Senate to pass 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal. It's time to end this costly and discriminatory policy. Until then, the lives and careers of thousands of courageous, qualified and patriotic service members will continue to hang in the balance."

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, visit www.theTaskForce.org

and follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

Lambda Legal Applauds Senate Vote to Allow Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

"Today our country has lived up to the values that lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers have sworn to defend."

( New York, December 18, 2010 ) - In response to today's Senate vote that sets the stage for an end to the U.S. military's 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy barring gays and lesbians from serving openly, Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Executive Director Kevin Cathcart:

"Today our country lived up to the values that lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers swore to defend. These members of America's armed forces have been a model of dignity and courage as they faced not only the dangers of military action, but also the unfair and discriminatory conduct of their own government. Today, the end of that era of discrimination is finally in sight."

"It is time for our country to move forward. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports letting lesbian and gay troops serve openly and with honor. The recent survey of military personnel and their families shows an overwhelming majority - 90 percent - are fine serving alongside a gay or lesbian servicemember. Our military and the security of our country will be strengthened by finally ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"This has been a heroic political battle by LGBT advocates who refused to give up. We congratulate the many lesbian and gay servicemembers who risked or sacrificed their careers to fight for justice; the many LGBT advocacy groups and allies who fought with them; and the members of Congress who voted for justice."

Lambda Legal began its fight against discrimination in the military in 1975. Over the years Lambda Legal has been proud to represent many members of the military including Margarethe Cammermeyer, Joseph Steffan, Dusty Pruitt and Copy Berg. This year, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief, in a challenge brought by Log Cabin Republicans, urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to leave in place pending appeal an injunction against enforcement of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, saying that its impact extends far beyond those in uniform, to include lesbian, gay and bisexual adults and youth, who must contend with the consequences of the discriminatory messages perpetuated by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Senate Clears Critical Hurdle In Effort To Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy, ACLU Statement

WASHINGTON — The Senate today voted to invoke cloture on legislation repealing the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Senate is expected to vote very soon on final passage of the legislation, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act of 2010 ( H.R. 2965 ) . The House passed the bill on Wednesday and, if the bill passes the Senate, it will head to the president for his signature. The American Civil Liberties Union commended the vote and urged a swift vote on final passage by the Senate.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"This latest vote brings us one significant step closer to the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' A policy that discharges qualified service members based simply on their sexual orientation is flatly discriminatory and wholly un-American. The Senate is on the precipice of history today and we encourage it to do the right thing and finally repeal this unconstitutional policy."

Log Cabin Republicans Illinois Applauds Successful Cloture on Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal by the United States Senate Including 6 Republican Senators Today

Log Cabin Republicans - Illinois is thrilled that the Senate has reached cloture on Don't Ask Don't Tell vote Senate Bill 4023, with a total of 63 votes yes, above the 60 required in order to avoid a filibuster by 3 votes. Special thanks to Republican Senators Susan Collins ( R-ME ) , Scott Brown ( R-MA ) , Olympia Snowe ( R-ME ) , Lisa Murkowski ( R-AK ) , George Voinovich ( R-OH ) , and especially our own Senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois ( R ) for their votes for repeal of the policy and for their tireless efforts on making sure this was brought to a vote today.

The actual pending vote is extremely likely to reach the necessary 51 votes and pass. The House of Representatives has already passed the measure 250-175 with the support of 15 Republican Representatives, including long-time Log Cabin Republican ally Representative Judy Biggert ( R-IL ) . President Obama has already stated publicly that he will sign the measure, ending the discriminatory policy.

Without the support of these Republican Senators, many of whom have responded to intense lobbying pressure from Log Cabin Republican members, staff, and volunteers over the recent years, months, and days, this bill would not have reached cloture and the discriminatory policy would stand. Log Cabin Republican efforts lobbying to get to this successful cloture demonstrates that they are an effective bipartisan ally to all GLBT organizations of merit in the fight for GBLT equality.

Log Cabin Republicans have had the most aggressive approach of any GLBT organization on ending Don't Ask Don't Tell. They have employed a tripartite approach:

1 ) pursuing the main Federal lawsuit Log Cabin Republicans vs. the United States and fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court over the last 6 years

2 ) pressuring the Executive branch and President Obama to repeal the measure

3 ) pressuring and lobbying Republican Representatives and Senators in Congress to vote for the measure and end it legislatively.

With today's historic action, GLBT Americans will soon be able to serve openly in our Armed Services alongside their non-GLBT peers. They will be able to serve in the honest and open way that builds troop morale. Those discharged less-than-honorably under the policy will be able to seek their benefits, their funds for schooling, and a change of their discharge honors. GLBT service members will be able to avoid violations of their 1st and 5th Amendment rights and a violation of Due Process. GLBT service members will be able to assist in defending the values of equality which make the United States what it is. We offer our sincere thanks to all members of Log Cabin Republicans, and all members of the GLBT and supporter community who spent extraordinary time lobbying for this important repeal effort.

All questions and comments can be directed to Log Cabin Republicans - Illinois President Sean Bennett at sean@logcabinillinois.org .

Log Cabin Republicans Salute Senator Susan Collins, Bipartisan Majority for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

( Washington, DC ) - Log Cabin Republicans thank the bipartisan Senate majority which today voted for cloture on repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and particularly recognizes Senator Susan Collins ( R-ME ) for her steadfast leadership.

"With this vote, we have crossed one of the final hurdles standing in the way of ending the failed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "Log Cabin Republicans are proud of our Senate allies who have voted to make our military stronger. Senator Collins, in particular, has long been the point of the spear in fighting for repeal among Republicans. She showed tremendous leadership in crossing the aisle to make this vote happen, continuing the fight when many thought hope was lost. Senators Brown, Kirk, Murkowski, Snowe and Voinovich also deserve our thanks for taking a principled stand for the integrity of all American servicemembers.

"Log Cabin Republicans urge Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and President Obama to move with all deliberate speed to implement the measures necessary for open service so that certification can proceed and gay and lesbian patriots will be free to serve our nation as honestly as they do honorably. Until that happens, Log Cabin will continue to push for the constitutional rights of servicemembers by any means necessary."

Republican senators supporting repeal include:

Sen. Scott Brown ( R-MA )

Sen. Susan Collins ( R-ME )

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.

PALM CENTER STATEMENT: HISTORIC SENATE VOTE ON GAY TROOPS MAY ALIGN U.S. WITH FOREIGN ALLIES

Santa Barbara, Calif. ( December 18, 2010 ) - Today, Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin released a statement following the successful 63-33 cloture vote in the Senate on stand-alone legislation to conditionally repeal "don't ask, don't tell," and pending the procedural vote that will follow cloture as well as any debate:

"When President Obama signs repeal legislation, he will pave the way for the U.S. to join its NATO allies in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. It has long been clear that there is no evidence that lifting the ban will undermine the military, and no reason to fear the transition to inclusive policy. Research shows that moving quickly is one of the keys to a successful transition. If the President and military leadership quickly certify the end of 'don't ask, don't tell,' they will ensure an orderly transition with minimal disruption."

From syndicated columnist Rex Wocker

Six Republicans voted for repeal, all Democrats voted for repeal except for Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who did not vote. -Rex Wockner

YEAs 63

Akaka ( D-HI )

Baucus ( D-MT )

Bayh ( D-IN )

Begich ( D-AK )

Bennet ( D-CO )

Bingaman ( D-NM )

Boxer ( D-CA )

Brown ( D-OH )

Brown ( R-MA )

Cantwell ( D-WA )

Cardin ( D-MD )

Carper ( D-DE )

Casey ( D-PA )

Collins ( R-ME )

Conrad ( D-ND )

Coons ( D-DE )

Dodd ( D-CT )

Dorgan ( D-ND )

Durbin ( D-IL )

Feingold ( D-WI )

Feinstein ( D-CA )

Franken ( D-MN )

Gillibrand ( D-NY )

Hagan ( D-NC )

Harkin ( D-IA )

Inouye ( D-HI )

Johnson ( D-SD )

Kerry ( D-MA )

Kirk ( R-IL )

Klobuchar ( D-MN )

Kohl ( D-WI )

Landrieu ( D-LA )

Lautenberg ( D-NJ )

Leahy ( D-VT )

Levin ( D-MI )

Lieberman ( ID-CT )

Lincoln ( D-AR )

McCaskill ( D-MO )

Menendez ( D-NJ )

Merkley ( D-OR )

Mikulski ( D-MD )

Murkowski ( R-AK )

Murray ( D-WA )

Nelson ( D-FL )

Nelson ( D-NE )

Pryor ( D-AR )

Reed ( D-RI )

Reid ( D-NV )

Rockefeller ( D-WV )

Sanders ( I-VT )

Schumer ( D-NY )

Shaheen ( D-NH )

Snowe ( R-ME )

Specter ( D-PA )

Stabenow ( D-MI )

Tester ( D-MT )

Udall ( D-CO )

Udall ( D-NM )

Voinovich ( R-OH )

Warner ( D-VA )

Webb ( D-VA )

Whitehouse ( D-RI )

Wyden ( D-OR )

NAYs - 33

Alexander ( R-TN )

Barrasso ( R-WY )

Bennett ( R-UT )

Bond ( R-MO )

Brownback ( R-KS )

Burr ( R-NC )

Chambliss ( R-GA )

Coburn ( R-OK )

Cochran ( R-MS )

Corker ( R-TN )

Cornyn ( R-TX )

Crapo ( R-ID )

DeMint ( R-SC )

Ensign ( R-NV )

Enzi ( R-WY )

Graham ( R-SC )

Grassley ( R-IA )

Hutchison ( R-TX )

Inhofe ( R-OK )

Isakson ( R-GA )

Johanns ( R-NE )

Kyl ( R-AZ )

LeMieux ( R-FL )

Lugar ( R-IN )

McCain ( R-AZ )

McConnell ( R-KY )

Risch ( R-ID )

Roberts ( R-KS )

Sessions ( R-AL )

Shelby ( R-AL )

Thune ( R-SD )

Vitter ( R-LA )

Wicker ( R-MS )

Not Voting - 4

Bunning ( R-KY )

Gregg ( R-NH )

Hatch ( R-UT )

Manchin ( D-WV )


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