A New Era?
"The right thing to do": Senate committee votes to repeal "Don't Ask, Don'tTell"
The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that's been military mantra since the Bill Clinton presidency has been voted down by the Senate Armed Services Committee tonight â€” a first, important step in what figures to still be a long battle to repeal the ban on gay men and women from serving openly in the United States' armed forces.
A closed-door debate ended with a 16-12 vote in favor of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
This all started with a moving speech from an unlikely source â€” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen â€” at the beginning of February. Mullen appeared before Congress and said that repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which has been military policy since 1993, was "the right thing to do."
"No matter how I look at the issue," Mullen said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Noting that he was speaking only for himself, Mullen continued: "For me, it comes down to integrity â€” theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
The Armed Services Committee repeal vote puts the legal process in place to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", if a review of servicemen led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is completed later this year supports it.
Despite this caveat, chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have come out against the repeal, at the solicitation of Sen. John McCain, who has said he will filibuster the entire Defense budget to stop the repeal if it comes to the floor of the Senate. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi announced that she has the votes to pass the amendment in the House of Representatives.
Regardless of the vote, with the delay mechanism in place it seems like social conservatives have put another wedge issue front and center just in time for the midterm elections.
But uniform opposition to repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may not be the boon Republicans are looking for come election time.
According to a CNN poll conducted May 21-23, almost 80 percent of the electorate is in favor of repeal.