The US Congress in an unusual Saturday session voted today to repeal the armed force's 17 year old "Don't Ask, Don't tell" regulation which forbade gay and lesbian Americans military service to their country. The House passed the measure earlier this week, and the Senate took up action this morning with a successful vote the allowed debate, and then the second vote this afternoon that approved the measure 65-31.
It will be a while yet though (according to reports) before the regulations are completely lifted.
President Obama issued a statement ( full statement below) this morning on the Senate's action.
“By ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after the cloture vote. “And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.”
UPDATE: Integrity has issued a statement applauding the vote. Box Turtle Bulletin points out that this is the first time that a piece of LGBT legislation has been acted upon by the Congress and not been attached to another piece of legislation.
Statement by the President on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
Today, 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. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.
As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.