Wednesday, December 15, 2010

U.S. House Votes 250-175 To Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; Alaska Congressman Don Young Stands Tall For Family Values And Votes No

On December 15th, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 250-175 to pass a standalone bill to repeal the U.S. military's 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy towards gay servicemembers. Alaska's only Congressman, Don Young, courageously stepped up to the plate and voted No. His vote was not really a surprise; back in April 2010, Congressman Young had indicated that he would not support repeal of DADT because he believed DADT is working.

-- Read the full roll call vote grouped by state HERE, or by party HERE.

As expected, President Barack Obama heralded the vote, saying in a statement that ending current military policy "is not only the right thing to do, it will also give our military the clarity and certainty it deserves. We must ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally by their country." On the other side, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), a member of the LDS Church who is slated to chair the House Armed Services Committee in the next Congress, said Democrats "were more concerned about 'don't ask don't tell,' I believe, than about the military and about carrying out our responsibilities for those who are laying their lives on the line every day to protect us. That's a bad system." The LDS Church has taken no public position on DADT.

The next move is up to the U.S. Senate, which has crafted a repeal bill designated S.4023 which is identical in language to the House measure in order to better facilitate passage. Because Republican Senators Susan Collins (RINO-ME), Olympia Snowe (RINO-ME), Scott Brown (RINO-MA) and Lisa Murkowski (RINO-AK) intend to vote for repeal, the 60+ votes for passage appear to be promising, since all 58 members of the Senate Democratic caucus plan to support it, among them, Alaska Democratic Senator Mark Begich. Begich is not listed as a co-sponsor of S.4023.

DADT needs reform, not repeal. DADT does not protect servicemembers from the consequences of involuntary disclosure by a third party or being required to disclose homosexual orientation to clear oneself in a criminal or national security investigation. They should have tried expanding DADT protection to those additional areas first before repealing it. Defense Secretary William Gates has already initiated rules that make it more difficult for a service member to be removed because of a third-party outing; the number of gay discharges dropped as a result.

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