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DADT Repeal Approved by House

DADT Repeal Approved by House

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill Wednesday to repeal the 17-year-old law barring lesbian and gay service members from serving openly in the military by a vote of 250-175. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who championed the repeal effort, said those who oppose repeal had exhausted “every excuse under the sun.” “Enough!” Murphy said from the House floor. “Our troops are the best of the best and they deserve a Congress that puts their safety and their collective national security over rigid partisan interests and a closed-minded ideology.”

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a stand-alone bill Wednesday to repeal the 17-year-old law barring lesbian and gay service members from serving openly in the military by a vote of 250-175.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, who championed the repeal effort, said those who oppose repeal had exhausted “every excuse under the sun.”

“Enough!” Murphy said from the House floor. “Our troops are the best of the best and they deserve a Congress that puts their safety and their collective national security over rigid partisan interests and a closed-minded ideology.”

The bill, introduced Tuesday afternoon by Rep. Murphy and House majority leader Steny Hoyer, will now be sent over to the Senate for consideration. Its language is identical to that of the legislation introduced Friday by Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, and its “privileged” status will allow it to bypass several procedural hurdles and move directly to a vote that would take 60 senators for passage.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, and Murphy called a press conference immediately following the vote to urge Senate action. Seven pro-repeal groups issued a statement that also implored the Senate to vote.

“Today’s vote by the House of Representatives provides another resounding indication that 'don’t ask, don’t tell' can and should be repealed legislatively this year,” said the statement.

By Wednesday afternoon, 47 senators had signed on as cosponsors of the bill and Sen. Olympia Snowe pledged her support even as House members were still casting their votes.

“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,” Snowe said in a statement. 

One Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it was “a very good day” for repeal advocates. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) garnered 66 senators in a procedural vote, just one shy of the 67 needed for passage – meaning START and the omnibus spending bill could be wrapped up relatively quickly.

“Presumably that's going to be resolved by Monday/Tuesday and then they could proceed to repeal,” said the aide.

But the aide cautioned that “no one knows” exactly what legislation Reid will move to next. On Wednesday morning, Reid mentioned both the DREAM Act and Senate confirmations as priorities to accomplish before the end of the year, but he failed to mention “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal.

But following the House vote, an aide to Sen. Reid told The Advocate, "We still plan to consider 'don't ask, don't tell' before the end of the year."

The White House and the Pentagon were also quick to applaud the House vote.

"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," read a statement from President Barack Obama. "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."

A spokesman for the Department of Defense said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was "pleased" by the vote.

"He encourages the Senate to pass the legislation this session, enabling the Department of Defense to carefully and responsibly manage a change in this policy instead of risking an abrupt change resulting from a decision in the courts," said press secretary Geoff Morrell.

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