The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to advance repealing the law that bars gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the military. As USA Today reported just moments ago:
“On a 234-194 vote, the House voted to advance the repeal as an amendment to a Defense Department funding bill moving through Congress. Earlier in the day the Senate Armed Services Committee separately voted 16-12 to approve the same measure.”
After that initial vote GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios responded with praise and had a message for the nation’s media:
“The Senate Armed Services Committee has taken an important step toward repealing this unfair law that puts our entire country at risk by discharging service members just because they’re gay,” said Barrios. “As we wait for a timeline of the repeal and a vote from the House, GLAAD urges the media to continue to spotlight the personal stories of the brave service members who have been discharged under this ban.”
A host of leaders from advocacy groups committed to repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ also responded to tonight’s votes, including Aubrey Sarvis, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. While acknowledging the favorable decisions Sarvis urged caution for gay and lesbian service members:
“The U.S. House and Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee both passed a historic roadmap to allowing open military service, but it doesn’t end the discharges. It is important for all gay and lesbian, active-duty service members, including the reserves and the national guard, to know they’re at risk. They must continue to serve in silence under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law that remains on the books. Congress and the Pentagon need to stay on track to get repeal finalized, hopefully no later than first quarter 2011. The bottom line: gay and lesbian service members remain at risk for discharge and cannot serve openly.
“Chairman Carl Levin, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Rep. Patrick Murphy showed remarkable courage and steadfastness in the face of unprecedented and inappropriate last minute lobbying by the Pentagon service chiefs who seemed to have forgotten that they are not the policy makers here. That role in our government rightly belongs to Congress and it was properly exercised today in the dismantling of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
“Repeal is moving forward with the support of the President and the Pentagon, including JCS Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The repeal amendment allowed for Congress to act while respecting the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service for lesbian and gay service members. Nothing would happen until the Pentagon Working Group completes its report and the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President certifies repeal.”
USA Today quoted Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., who sponsored the amendment as saying, ”With our military fighting two wars, why on earth would we tell 13,500 able-bodied Americans that their service is not needed?”
Earlier this week ABC World News Tonightaired a compelling story on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ highlighting a the personal stories of several service members including one person who came out in the in the report. GLAAD helped prepare the people who appeared in the story.
Leading up to tonight’s historic votes on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the mainstream media has covered the topic fairly, accurately and extensively. We’ll keep you posted on the new wave of coverage expected in the coming days. Updates can be found here at glaadblog.