Lawmakers in the House joined a Senate
committee late Thursday in approving an amendment to repeal “Don't
Ask, Don't Tell,” the law that forbids gay troops from serving
With a 234 to 194 vote, representatives
attached the amendment to next year's defense bill.
“At its core, this is a vote against
discrimination and division, a symbolic gesture to the country and
the world that Congress' commitment to equality will always triumph
over inequality,” Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat from
Illinois and a strong advocate for repeal, said on the House floor.
The House is expected to vote on the
national defense authorization bill Friday.
Repeal advocates cheered passage in
both chambers of Congress but repeated their warning that the policy
remains in place.
“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,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal, said.
Openly gay Massachusetts Congressman
Barney Frank called Thursday's votes “one of the most important
advances in our fight against prejudice based on sexual orientation.”
“A very few years from now, it will
be clear that the fears expressed by our opponents' arguments were
totally without foundation,” Frank said in an email.
He also thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, and Pennsylvania
Representative Patrick Murphy “for their extraordinary leadership
in bringing this about.”
Murphy was the lead sponsor of the
measure in the House. On Tuesday, he
predicted the House would approve the repeal measure.
Calling the law an “absurd and
overtly discriminatory policy,” New York Congressman Jerrold
Nadler, who voted against the policy in 1993, joined in calling for
“I entirely reject the argument that
allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would undermine troop
morale,” Nadler said on the House floor. “We don't need a study
to know that this canard is simple prejudice.”
Earlier on Thursday, members
of the Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of a similar
Republicans, including Arizona Senator
John McCain, the Senate's most ardent opponent of repeal, have
threatened to block passage of the defense bill with a filibuster in the Senate.