After 17 years and more than 14,000 discharges, the United States Senate voted today to begin repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members.
Just hours after a vote invoking cloture, the Senate approved a bill that aims to overturn the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. The legislation will now go to the White House for the President’s signature.
According to The Los Angeles Times, “Once the measure becomes law, Obama and military chiefs will have to certify that the change wouldn't hurt the ability of troops to fight and there would also be a 60-day waiting period. The actual elimination of ‘don't ask, don't tell,’ which dates back to the Clinton administration, could take as long as a year.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated, however, that he would be in favor of ending all DADT-related investigations immediately. That decision will ultimately be left to the President and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
"To deny brave men and women the ability to serve their country openly and honestly is to reject the fundamental American principles of fairness and equality for all," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Today’s vote, a reflection of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the repeal, moves us one step closer to ending a ban which undermines our national security and has resulted in the loss of critical and skilled service members."
Sergeant Anthony Bustos, who worked with GLAAD earlier this year to share his story on ABC News, also reflected on today’s vote:
“As I heard the final vote count, relief swept over me and I felt like my eight years of service and sacrifice had finally been validated. Today's vote will not only strengthen our national security, it will also strengthen our nation's integrity."
Sergeant Bustos was discharged just last week under DADT.
Today, GLAAD is encouraging mainstream media to spotlight the stories of brave gay and lesbian people in uniform who are at the heart of today’s victory. GLAAD has camera-ready spokespeople and service members ready to speak on this issue.