Unless you've been hiding out under a rock, you probably heard that Saturday, the Senate followed the House in voting to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." DADT, signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was meant to be a compromise on allowing lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers to serve in the U.S. military as long as they clammed up about their identities.
With this historic vote in place, the repeal will become law with a
signature from President Barack Obama, who said while campaigning for
the presidency that he hoped to do so. After that, the military has 60 days
to implement the repeal and gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers will be
able to serve openly. Since DADT was enacted in 1993, almost 12,000 soldiers have been discharged
for violating it, according to data compiled by the Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network.
The House approved the repeal last week 270-175
with Missouri Democrats Russ Carnahan, Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver
voting for repeal. Republicans Todd Akin, Roy Blunt, Jo Ann Emerson, Sam
Graves and Blaine Luetkemeyer, as well as ousted Democrat Ike Skelton,
voted against repeal.Saturday in the Senate
Democrat Claire McCaskill voted for repeal and Republican Kit Bond
voted against it. In that vote, 65 Senators, including 8 Republicans,
voted for repeal.
Before DADT, the military's official position
was that homosexuality was "clearly incompatible" with military service.
Under DADT, gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers were welcome to serve as
long as they hid their identities and never mentioned their sexual
orientation, though they could be discharged even while hiding their
identities, if a superior found out about their private lives.
Inside the military community, support for DADT waned over the years. This November, the Department of Defense polled 400,000 servicemembers and 150,000 military spouses
Seventy percent of the soldiers said allowing gays, lesbians and
bisexuals to serve openly would be positive, mixed or of no consequence.
In February, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen
spoke against DADT before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
DADT was perhaps a step toward something like equality for gay, lesbian
and bisexual soldiers, it was highly flawed and forced people into
hiding. During your workday today, notice how many times you or your
coworkers casually refer to your own sexual orientation: did Mary from
accounting mention seeing Black Swan
with her husband this
weekend? Did you chat with Joe the mail carrier about that new girl he's
seeing? Under DADT, that kind of chatter would derail a person's
career, no matter how skilled of a soldier or sincere of a patriot they might be.