Senate votes to repeal DADT
It was a red letter day in LGBT history Saturday, as the U.S. Senate approved a bill to repeal the 17-year-old federal law banning openly gay people from the military.
The big vote Saturday was procedural but potent: Would senators allow a bill to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the Senate floor for consideration on its merits? Pundits had been predicting victory for days, though there were still no guarantees. But when the vote came back, it was a far larger margin than expected. Sixty-three senators voted Yes — five more than the three-fifths necessary to send the bill to the floor.
The tally included Yes votes from six moderate Republicans: Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and George Voinivich of Ohio. All had been subjected to considerable lobbying and media attention prior to the vote.
And all six Republicans were part of the 65-to-31 vote in mid-afternoon Saturday when the Senate voted on the repeal measure itself. The bill had passed the House on Wednesday with a 250 to 175 vote.
The measure now goes to the President’s desk for his signature. An actual end to the ban on open gay service is still contingent on certification by the president and defense officials that it won’t harm readiness or unit cohesion. Then there’s a sixty-day waiting period when Congress could — at least theoretically — intervene. As a practical matter, there don’t appear to be the votes to do so.
–Lisa Keen, Keen News Service